Monday, January 2, 2012


Happy New Year. I want to recognize the best new music of 2011. These are the albums that made the most spins on my iTunes.

1. Robert Earl Keen's Ready For Confetti.

 Ready For Confetti is the 16th album of Robert Earl Keen's prolific career. Like his last two outstanding albums, What I Really Mean (2005) and Rose Hotel (2009), the record is a great mix of original songs and well-selected covers.  Confetti was produced by Lloyd Maines who also produced The Rose Hotel. It includes 10 Keen originals, including a remake of my all time favorite REK song, Paint the Town Beige which was first released on Bigger Piece of Sky (1993).

With the title track, I Gotta GoShow the World, and Waves on the Ocean, Robert continues to solidify his position as one the best songwriter from the great state of Texas. Like all great songwriters, he has an incredible ability to take vignettes from every day life and write them into songs that paint pictures in your mind.

Ready for Confetti is a CD that you will continued to play in 2012.

2. Glen Campbell's Ghost on the Canvas

Ghost on the Canvas is the final album of Glen Campbell’s amazing career. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Faced with this reality, he decided to record one final album and organize a farewell tour.

The facts of his career are well known. Originally a hot handed guitar player, Campbell was a member of the famed Wrecking Crew in the 1960’s. This group of studio musicians played on many of the big hits of the day including records by the Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, The Byrds, as well as the Wall of Sound records of Phil Spector.,

Later he teamed with songwriter Jimmy Webb who wrote his signature hits Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix. These two along with Rhinestone Cowboy helped him sell over 45 million records.  Although these string filled, slick country hits may sounds a little dated today, they still sound great to my ear.

Ghost on the Canvas has a more contemporary country sound that comes from Campbell’s collaboration with several artists including Jacob Dylan (little Bob), Paul Westerberg, Chris Isaak, and Billy Corgan. Some of the songs look back to Campbell’s string filled past, but others have a more modern feel. The lyrics on several of the songs address his current situation in a very powerful moving way. This is particularly true with songs like A Better Place and There’s No Me.... Without You.

Although familiar with his classics, I have to confess that this is the first Glen Campbell record I have ever owned. It is a very moving, beautiful album and one of the best of the year. I recommend it highly.

3. Sons of Fathers

They main players behind Sons of Fathers are David Beck and Paul Cauthen. They came together as a duo but have now added another guitar and drums to round out the band. It is their original compositions and vocals harmonies that make Sons of Fathers such an impressive debut.  The production by Lloyd Maines, who did the same for Robert Earl Keen on his last two albums, captures a clean, authentic sound that compliments the great songwriting on every cut.

All of the songs on the album are good but several are real standouts. The opener, Weather Ballons, has great lyrics and a very catchy tune. Listen to it more than once and it will be stuck in your head. David Beck's upright bass gives the song a nice bottom and teams well with Cauthen's guitar. Someone does a good job on piano as well. Adam and Eve is another great track with more good piano that compliments the lead guitar and singing.

The band has a sound that is hard to categorize. Is it country, alt-country, folk? I’m not sure what to say other than that it has the depth and quality of real roots music. It’s not loud, but it still rocks. There isn't a bad cut on the whole album. The record has a real ensemble feel to it that reminds me of the early work of The Band.

Sons of Fathers is a very impressive debut as well as a great album. I recommend it highly.

Two other CD's worth mentioning:

KMAG YOYO  by Hayes Carll

Future Blues by Johnny Nicholas


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