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What a year. Plenty of big names from our musical corner of the world departed (Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Guy Clark, Ralph Stanley, Red Simpson, Jean Shepard, Leon Russell, Steve Young, Glenn Frey, Chips Moman, Dave Swarbrick and Scotty Moore), a sign that the golden era of music from the 60s and 70s is well and truly in the rear view mirror as increasingly the stars, heroes and heroines take their final bow.

Of course there was still a plethora of new and reissued music to pore over, soak up and relish. The newest generation made their mark, the exponents of American primitive guitar music found their feet with full bands and rock and psychedelic country excursions and Australian artists showed that the talent at home is the equal of anything being produced in the world of Americana music.

Looking across our list of the 40 LPs that we listened to and loved the most, there is a wide range of styles, from solo acoustic to full electric bands, folk to country, from rock to those influenced by jazz and electronica. It all falls under the same roof around these parts. Hopefully you’ll find a few albums on this list that you haven’t heard yet and, as usual, we’d love to hear what your favourite releases were in 2016.


1. Drive-By Truckers – American Band

Hood, Cooley and band have built an epic back catalogue of albums over the last two decades and American Band is right up there with their very best. It rocks, it soothes and it was the most poetically prescient album of the year. It touched on modern America and its cultural, economic, political and societal struggles it still wrestles with. The band balanced education, commentary and incisive critique with country rock ‘n’ roll and weary yet defiant melancholy.

2. Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To

The swan song LP from one of our favourite Americana bands. They’ve detailed the trials and tribulations of the heartbroken and disillusioned with a literary grace and a soundtrack that conveyed pain and revelation with real emotion. Here they wove characters and stories from previous albums into a beautiful parting gift to their fans and each other.

3. The Felice Brothers – Life In The Dark

The Felice Bros. seem to be in their own magical universe at times, weaving poetry, nursery rhymes and a supremely catchy and melodic sense into yet another excellent set of songs which imbue their abstract characters with humour, eccentricity and pathos.

4. Case/Lang/Veirs – Case/Lang/Veirs

On paper this sounded like a fascinating collaboration between kd lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs so it was surprising and pleasing that the end result exceeded the pre-release expectations. A warm and organic vibe permeates this record with all three showcasing their songwriting and singing and most importantly, weaving those exceptional qualities together into a singular record that sound like nothing else in 2016.

5. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

Unfortunately this album took on even greater meaning with the death of Cohen so quickly after it was released. Prior to that the spectre of mortality hung heavily over what is one of the poet’s finest works. That characteristic black humour runs deep and cuts wickedly throughout the album and ultimately it feels like a final chapter of a creative life well lived.

6. Jason Walker – All-Night Ghost Town

7. Davey Craddock – City West

8. Steve Gunn – Eyes On The Line

9. Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Haven’t Been Sung

10. Lucinda Williams – The Ghosts Of Highway 20

11. William Crighton – William Crighton

12. Jonny Fritz – Sweet Creep

13. Big Smoke – Time Is Golden

14. Darren Cross – _Xantastic

15. Robert Ellis – Robert Ellis

16. Karl Blau – Introducing Karl Blau

17. William Tyler – Modern Country

18. Will Wood – Magpie Brain & Other Stories

19. Luther Dickinson – Blues & Ballads

20. Adam Young – Elementary Carnival Blues

21. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

22. Margo Price – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

23. Neil Young – Peace Trail

24. Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife – Thieves

25. Freya Josephine Hollick – The Unceremonious Junking Of Me

26. Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – Earth

27. Jen Mize – Warnings & Wisdom

28. Wilco – Schmilco

28. Mark Lucas & The Dead Setters – Continental Drift

30. The Ramalamas – East Coast Low

31. The Weeping Willows – Before Darkness Comes A Callin’

32. Henry Wagons – After What I Did Last Night…

33. Fallon Cush – Bee In Your Bonnet

34. Hayes Carll – Lovers and Leavers

35. Chris Pickering – Canyons

36. Lucy Roleff – This Paradise

37. Chuck Johnson – Velvet Arc

38. Malcolm Holcombe – Another Black Hole

39. Katie Brianna – Victim Or The Heroine

40. The Jayhawks – Paging Mr Proust

tie off

One thought on “FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2016

  1. Always fun to read these end-of-year lists. I would find a place for Lisa Hannigan, Aoife O’Donovan and (especially) Dori Freeman.


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