As we near the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about the Song of the Year and Album of the Year candidates, and to start sifting back thought this year’s playlists and reviews to see what resonated the most, and what we might have missed. But there are still new songs and new albums being released as well.
This new album Black and White and Blue isn’t just about Eric Strickland making a bluegrass record, it is about Eric exerting his desire to not be pigeon holed, and pulling away from the whole “Outlaw” moniker that has become so compromised in recent years.
It’s the combination of Strickland’s songwriting, and his amazing North Carolina-bred country voice that give you that tingle only true country music knows how to evoke. His frequent collaborator Gary Braddy also pens some of this album’s best songs, while the ‘B’ Sides continue to be one of the coolest backing bands in country music.
2013 has been self-proclaimed by Saving Country Music as the “Year of the Songwriter,” and this list of candidates for SCM’s Album of the Year reflect that dynamic of an elevated bar of songwriting excellence that these 8 artists have set. There is no arbitrary number of slots for candidates for this award. Nominees are chosen only if they have a legitimate chance of winning…
12 Stories, 2013, album of the year, Austin Lucas, best albums, Brandy Clark, Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, Caitlin Rose The Stand-In, Eric Strickland, Gone Away Backward, High Top Mountain, In The Throes, In Time, Jason Isbell, Jayke Orvis, John Moreland, Lindi Ortega, Possessed by Paul James, Robbie Fulks, Southeastern, Sturgill Simpson, The Mavericks, The White Buffalo, Year of the Dragon
2013 has come on strong here recently for quality albums, with some real contenders for the coveted “Album of the Year” distinction released just in the last week. Any “Best Of” album list for 2013 is also going to reflect the leadership and creativity displayed by country music women, which has become one of the year’s underlying themes so far.
2013 Best Albums, Best Country Albums of 2013, Bless This Mess, Caitlin Rose, Dark & Dirty Mile, Eric Strickland, High Top Mountain, Holly Williams, I'm Bad For You, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Jason Isbell, Jayke Orvis, Southeastern, Sturgill Simpson, The Dinosaur Truckers, The Highway, The Mavericks In Time, The Stand In
Eric Strickland is Country with a capital ‘C’ and couldn’t make a bad album if he tried. He may be more locally-oriented than the other big names in honky tonk music, but gives up nothing to his more well-known comrades when it comes to cutting songs and records. Eric Strickland and The ‘B’ Sides are doing their part to save country music. Now it’s time to do your part by giving them your ear and attention.
Kellie did something quite remarkable. She decided that by her own hand, she would rather relinquish the spoils of her American Idol past and her major label endorsement than to continue living a lie through her music. Of course Kellie would have loved to have it both ways, but she decided she would rather make music that was true to her heart and take the risk of losing it all than continuing to play the part.
This song is about losing yourself, which we’ve all done, and will all do again, and how we all start off life with a firm grasp on who we are that life does its level best to wrestle away from us. But inside “Stranger” there is also a glimmer of hope in how the realization of one’s self can stimulate renewal. And above all of that, the beauty of “Stranger” is its fierce simplicity–the attribute of all excellent country songs.
Billy Don BUrns, Brigitte London, Eric Strickland, Johnny Paycheck, Kacey Musgraves, Merle Haggard, Olds Sleeper, Rusty Knuckles, Stranger, Sturgill Simpson, Tom VandenAvond, Turnpike Troubadours, Whitey Morgan, Willie Nelson
Every year this list stirs a little controversy because people misunderstand that these are not supposed to be the songs you “like” the best, but instead is supposed to be compositions in a given year that have the most impact. They’re songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself. It is reserved for those few compositions that have the ability to change lives and to change the world.
Bigsky/Flatland, Billy Don BUrns, Chris Knight, Corb Lund, Drinking Whiskey, Eric Strickland, Good Lord Lorrie, Justin Twones Earle, Kacey Musgraves, Life Ain't Fair and the World Is Mean, Man In Gray, McDougall, Merry Go Round, New Year's Eve At The Gates Of Hell, Olds Sleeper, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sara Watkins, Shooter Jennings, Song of the Year, Stranger, Sturgill Simpson, T Junior, Tom VandenAvond, Turnpike Troubadours, Unfortunately Anna, Wreck of a Fine Man
2012 was a bumper crop year for great albums in the greater country music world, and that necessitates a bolstered lineup of candidates for Saving Country Music’s coveted Album of the Year. 7 total made the list, with others admittedly getting completely screwed by their absence. I already have a bead of sweat forming across my brow brought on by the impossible decision of who I’m supposed to pick off this list.
100 Proof, Bloody Jug Band, Cabin Fever, Calamity Cubes, Cigarettes & Truckstops, Coffin Up Blood, Corb Lund, Eric Strickland, Goodbye Normal Street, Honky Tonk Till I Die, James Hand, Justin Townes Earle, Kellie Pickler, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Lindi Ortega, Mighty Lonesome Man, New Year's Poem, Olds Sleeper, Rachel Brooke, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Turnpike Troubadours
There’s so much music these days vying for everyone’s attention, it is almost imperative that you employ some sort of “bit” to get noticed: a distinctive singing style, a blending of genres, humor, irony, etc. How about just sincerity in craft, and good songwriting? Why can’t that get noticed too? After all, in music these days, that’s pretty rare itself, and those attributes are what Andy Vaughan puts into play in Searching For The Song.
Sometimes you just have to stop pontificating so much about music and just play it. That is what the Saving Country Music Radio podcast is for. Even if you have no time or desire to listen, please pilfer the playlist for ideas for what we’re listening to right now. This episode is co-hosted by Earl Dibbles Jr. (well, sort of), who just released a new single, and prominently features my favorite new album from Eric Strickland.
Some confusion always seems to dog my lists of top songs, because I’m not just looking for that catchy tune you can’t take off of repeat, I’m looking for the song that changes your world. For a song to qualify, it must be original, and barring exceptional circumstances, it must be composed by the performer. These are songs that take you somewhere.
This is what Saving Country Music is all about. This is the reason I put my pants on every morning. Everything else is just fluff, filibustering, treading water until I come across that one artist, that one album that embodies everything true country fans are looking for but have yet to find. That is what you have with Eric Strickland and his band The B Sides, and their album Honky Tonk Till I Die.