Before we shut the door on 2012 completely, it seemed like a good idea to take a look back at some of the best country and Americana collections of the year that didn’t get all the attention they deserved.
Artist: Dwight Yoakam
Title: 3 Pears (Warner Music Nashville)
You might be interested if you like: Buck Owens, Flying Burrito Brothers, Michael and the Lonesome Playboys.
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam’s “3 Pears” marks the Grammy Award winner’s first new studio disc of original music in seven years. Whether singing ballads (“It’s Never Alright,” “Long Way To Go”), midtempo honky tonk chestnuts (“Nothing But Love”) or uptempo stuff (“Dim Lights, Thick Smoke”), the 12 songs here are among the finest recordings of the his celebrated career. “A Heart Like Mine” recalls the intoxicating blend of melody and psychedelic swirl of The Beatles’ latter work, while “Long Way To Go” boasts the authentic Bakersfield country sounds aptly suited for Yoakam’s inviting twangy vocals. Good news for fans of the Kentucky native; he will be appearing at the Stagecoach Festival in Indio on Saturday, April 27. Information: http://www.stagecoachfestival.com/ and http://www.dwightyoakam.com/.
Artist: Lady Antebellum
Title: Own The Night World Tour (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might be interested if you like: Lady Antebellum’s “Own The Night” album.
Tell me more: Filmed in Little Rock, Arkansas in June 2012, “Own The Night World Tour” features one of modern country music’s most successful groups at the top of their game. The Nashville-based trio (Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood) perform hits such as “American Honey,” “I Run To You,” “We Owned the Night” and “Just a Kiss.” In addition to the filmed 90-minute concert which looks and sounds great, the release features bonus features including behind-the-scenes interviews that provides additional insight into the group. Released in December 2012, “Own The Night World Tour” is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital video. Lady Antebellum is also scheduled to perform at Stagecoach on April 27. Information: www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://ladyantebellum.com/.
Artist: Jamey Johnson
Title: Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (Mercury Nashville)
You might be interested if you like: Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jamey’s Johnson’s “The Guitar Song.”
Tell me more: When word circulated that singer-songwriter-guitarist Jamey Johnson was working on a full-length tribute to legendary songwriter Hank Cochran (who died at age 74 in 2010), it didn’t take long before several generations of country music stars eagerly joined in to assist with the project. In addition to the gifted Johnson (whose own two-disc “The Guitar Song” was one of the best releases of 2010), the list of collaborators on “Living for a Song” includes Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Vince Gill and Willie Nelson. “Make the World Go Away,” featuring Johnson and Krauss, and “Don’t Touch Me” with Harris rank as two of the most heartfelt and beautiful recordings in memory. Other selections (“I Fall to Pieces” featuring Haggard, and “I Don’t Do Windows” with Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson) take a more playful musical approach, but mine the same rich emotional territory for stellar results. Information: http://www.jameyjohnson.com/.
Artist: Willie Nelson
Title: Heroes (Sony Legacy)
You might be interested if you like: Merle Haggard, Jamey Johnson, Kris Kristofferson.
Tell me more: When Willie Nelson puts his heart into a project, the results usually shine. Such is the case on the 13-track “Heroes,” which was produced by Buddy Cannon and features a who’s who of artists joining the 79-year-old Nelson. Highlights include an intimate version of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” and tracks where Nelson is joined by the likes of Merle Haggard (on the winning “A Horse Called Music”), Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnston as well as his two sons Lukas and Micah Nelson. Information: http://www.willienelson.com/.