21) Lori McKenna “Heart Shaped Bullet Hole”
Everything I said about her album “Lorraine” holds true in this EP. Her phrasing and timing makes everything she does more interesting, even her live covers. I’ve heard her play covers live which led me to look up the original artist on iTunes. I’ve always been disappointed after hearing her version.
22) Stephen Lynch “Lion”
I’ve written more than enough about this album here. I tweeted Stephen a link to the post and a few weeks later he promised to read it. But, I’ve heard nothing since. He must be busy reading all the other 975-word posts constructively criticizing his work. Note(1): I am not a stalker. Note(2): this post is coming from inside Stephen’s house.
23) Tenacious D “Rize of the Fenix”
Even an awful Tenacious D album is better than no Tenacious D album (see Pick of Destiny). I say all Tenacious D is spectacular.
24) Ben Folds Five “The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind”
Ben Folds became popular when I was 16 so I understand it’s nearly impossibly for them to release a new album after 15 years apart that would live up to my standards. I set my expectations low and wasn’t disappointed. While I appreciate his quirkiness I feel like he should stick to the lingo of the 1990s instead of appealing to today’s high schoolers, though I understand that’s a bit selfish. “Away When You Were Here” would have fit right in on their second album.
25) Chris Smither “Hundred Dollar Valentine”
I too often forget how much I love Chris Smither. His quirky lyrics remind me of John Prine or Todd Snider. The background vocals from Kris Delmhorst add some smooth to Smither’s rough.
26) Flying Colors “Flying Colors”
Flying Colors is so far my favorite Mike Portnoy post-Dream Theater project. It’s also the second appearance of Neal Morse on the list.
27) Nanci Griffith “Intersection”
I have no actual evidence to back this up but Nanci comes across as a bit of a drunk, especially on the live stuff. It’s probably just passion. This album’s okay, not great. It’s telling that the song I chose to play was just a re-recording of a song from “Late Night Grande Hotel” from 1991.
28) Larkin Poe “Thick as Thieves”
Larkin Poe has released a slew of EPs since splitting from the more traditional Lovell Sisters. It’s time for a full album. Their songwriting is catchy and interesting enough to break into mainstream radio but Rebecca needs to stop slurring up to every phrase, or entering into each phrase flat. It’s fine in moderation but becomes tiresome after a while.
29) Rufus Wainwright “Out of the Game”
Finally, Rufus returns to form with a more pop-y album. I’m sure his opera albums were genius, but I wasn’t about to take the time to give them a second listen.
30) Steep Canyon Rangers “Nobody Knows You”
Sometimes I feel bad for their banjo player, playing second banjo to a comedian. I’m glad they’re still putting out stuff with just the 5 of them.
While this post may seem simple it was more time consuming than expected. While I play by ear well, I often play sloppy. It makes for fun at a party, but not so much for recorded music. The 19-month old in the house was the first challenge. She’d easily ruin the video and my playing would certainly wake her up during bed time, or so I thought. We found that once the kid was fully asleep and the fan was kept on, the playing didn’t wake her. This gave me a window of a few hours to practice and record. While it was more work than expected, it was also more rewarding than I expected. It forced me to play far more piano than I usually do as I set a goal for myself with a specific time frame (end of year).