14. Rosanne Cash – The List
Back in Rosanne’s late teen years, her father — you may have heard of him — gave her a list of 100 essential country songs to learn in order to gain a perspective of the history of the genre. Here are 12 of those songs reinterpreted through her years of ups and downs. The emotions infused into these songs is one of an artist looking back and feeling bittersweet. She even confides in the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Rufus Wainwright. This is not only a lovely collection of songs, but also an interesting history lesson that would probably make Johnny proud.
Favorite songs: “Miss You And The Mississippi”, “Take These Chains From My Heart”, “500 Miles”
13. Elvis Costello – Secret, Profane & Sugarcane
This was a surprise. Elvis got together with masterful producer T-Bone Burnett and came up with an earthy, bluesy slice of Americana. This Brit invokes the Louisiana bayou with the grace and ease of long generations of the repressed whose woman done done him wrong. It’s light and effortless in a way that makes it obvious Elvis has found a new niche to dabble. An impressive effort made better by Burnett’s loose, uncluttered production.
Favorite songs: “Complicated Shadows”, “Hidden Shame”, “Sulphur To Sugarcane”
12. Gossip – Music For Men
Being unsure what the hoopla was about, I decided to give Gossip one more chance with their new release. Their breakthrough, Standing In The Way Of Control, was just that — an out-of-control mess of an album that was hyped beyond the content. The positive is that there was potential there which, thanks to more focused songwriting and production, brought Music For Men to fruition. Beth Ditto’s voice sounds even better behind the sightly polished garageband sound behind her. It’s sparse and punk and pop all at the same time. Let’s hope their sound continues to mesh together because this is just plain fun.
Favorite songs: “Heavy Cross”, “Love Long Distance”, “Four Letter Word”