Staff Picks for April 2009

Staff | May 21st, 2009

In our continuing efforts to highlight what we consider to be good music and give a little insight into our tastes and possibly introduce you to something new and keep things fresh and…we’re starting a new monthly feature. The premise is simple: if each of us only had enough funds in our budget to purchase a single album released in the previous month, which one would we choose. Think of it as a personal recommendation.

We’ll kick off with April and bring the feature to you a little earlier in May. Feel free to leave your pick in the comments along with a reason why you chose it.

Pierce Greenberg

A Picture of Me/Nothing Ever Hurt Me by George Jones

George Jones - A Picture of Me/Nothing Ever Hurt Me While Dale Watson makes a convincing push with his Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2, April’s best CD is actually a reissue of two George Jones albums from the 1970s. Combined on one disc for a low price, A Picture of Me and Nothing Ever Hurt Me are significant in that they mark a maturing in the country legend’s sound. True heartbreak shines through on these mellow songs, especially the title tracks. It’s a must-have for any Jones fan, or a nice way to get started if you’re interested in starting a Jones collection.

Karlie Justus

Country Club by John Doe and The Sadies

John Doe and the Sadies - Country Club Punk singer (of X and The Knitters fame) John Doe’s latest collaboration is about the closest you’ll find me near a punk album–which, admittedly, isn’t all that close considering it’s a tasteful mash up of country classics from the likes of Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette and Kris Kristofferson. Although Doe does Merle Haggard and Hank Williams justice on “Are the Good Times Really Over for Good” and “Take These Chains from My Heart”–a tune forever burned into my brain after hearing my dad hum it every morning before school–by amping up the pace and playing off his Dylan-esque vocals, Country Club’s four original songs aren’t to be ignored.

Jim Malec

The Truckin’ Session, Vol. 2 by Dale Watson

Dale Watson - The Truckin' Sessions, Vol. 2 April was a mediocre month in country music, but Dale Watson seldom disappoints. While Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2 is by no means a life-altering record, it is a consistent and satisfying collection from one of the genre’s unsung heroes and finest purveyors of contemporary old-school country. And besides, who couldn’t use a little more Ameripolitan in their music library?

Juli Thanki

Gospel Keepsakes by Hank Williams

Hank Williams - Gospel Keepsakes Is it cheating to pick a “new release” from a singer who’s been dead twice as long as he was alive? Perhaps, but for fans of traditional country and sacred music, this one’s a must listen. The 15 tracks of Gospel Keepsakes, culled from the 1951 Mother’s Best Flour radio shows, range from shape note songs (“Where the Soul Never Dies”) to then-contemporary covers (Johnnie & Jack’s “I Heard My Savior Calling Me”). During his 29 years, Hank Williams was plagued by chronic pain, drink, and demons; here, he sings as though his eternal soul depended on it. Gospel Keepsakes is a starkly beautiful and intimate peek into the life of country music’s troubled patron saint. For my money, there wasn’t a better–or more important–album released in April.

Brady Vercher

The Truckin’ Session, Vol. 2 by Dale Watson

Dale Watson - The Truckin' Sessions, Vol. 2 Sara Watkins’ and Newfound Road’s projects are absolutely worth checking out, but for the most entertainment, my money goes to Dale Watson’s The Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2. It’s a truckin’ album (obviously) of originals with a variety of material and tempos and Watson’s voice sounds perfect for a trucker character. He even does a bit to help round out the stereotype, featuring the tender “Let This Trucker Go” and a humorous ode to a trucker in drag, “Truckin’ Queen.” If music is supposed to be entertaining, The Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2 doesn’t disappoint.

Brody Vercher

The Truckin’ Session, Vol. 2 by Dale Watson

Dale Watson - The Truckin' Sessions, Vol. 2 My GMC Sierra is 14 wheels and a CB short of being considered a big rig, but you’d have a hard time convincing me (and that old lady with the new dent in the side of her car) of that when I pop Dale Watson’s The Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2 in the CD player. Were there more lyrically-rich albums released in April? Sure (see some of the other picks for examples), but song for song, I found Watson’s the most enjoyable.

C.M. Wilcox

Do Wrong Right by The Devil Makes Three

Devil Makes Three - Do Wrong Right Sara Watkins was sublime and Newfound Road was a pleasant surprise, but I have to give the nod for April to The Devil Makes Three, whose latest sounds like a breakthrough album. A vintage mixture of string band, ragtime, folk and blues shot through with a youthful vitality, this could be the soundtrack to your next tipsy night on the town. Fans of Justin Townes Earle and Old Crow Medicine Show are particularly advised to pick this one up posthaste.

2 Pings

  1. [...] 9513’s CM Wilcox pegged the album with his April Staff Recommendation, saying: “Sara Watkins was sublime and Newfound Road was a pleasant surprise, but I have to [...]
  2. [...] I took to The 9513, where I chose Do Wrong Right as my Staff Pick of April: I have to give the nod for April to The Devil Makes Three, whose latest sounds like a breakthrough [...]
  1. M.C.
    May 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    You guys like Dale Watson? I would’ve never guessed.

  2. Chris N.
    May 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Dale who?

  3. Leeann Ward
    May 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Still can’t get into ol’ Dale. I’ve tried again and again, but I just don’t think it’s gonna happen.

    I’d go with either Sara Watkins or The Devil Makes Three, but probably give Watkins the lead.

  4. Occasional Hope
    May 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Good idea for a feature. One quibble – I thought the George Jones reissue came out longer ago than that?

    I think I’m with Leeann on Dale Watson. I feel I should like his music, he does all the right things, it’s just that I don’t care for his voice. But I’m not getting Sara Watkins, either – the only track I really like on her album is the Jimmie Rodgers cover.

  5. Paul W Dennis
    May 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Koch issued the same two George Jones albums on a two-fer back in 1998. The Koch CD is long out of print. The American Beat label just put it back in print.

    I noticed that the new release has no bonus tracks (neither did the Koch issued disc) . The sound on the 1998 disc was terrific, so if you have that disc, there’s no need to buy this version

  6. Leeann Ward
    May 21, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Paul,
    What’s your favorite album from April?

  7. Dan Milliken
    May 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Hank gospel set cull 12/15 of its tracks from the Unreleased Recordings box? That’s my issue with something like that; it’s just cropping and re-packaging a superior collection, albeit an admittedly less affordable one. It’s also irritating for the many Hank completists who want everything on CD (I’m not one of them, but still), because it forces them to buy a full CD just to get 3 new songs. I know it’s not necessarily the label’s fault that such compilations must be produced (distributors are picky about box sets), but it’s still not a release I would personally recommend to anyone. Not to poo-poo on Juli, just saying!

    That quibble aside, I really like this feature. More plz.

  8. Rick
    May 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I like this feature a lot and especially when the reviewers include their 2nd and 3rd favorites as well to see if there is some sort on consistent consensus as to the top three albums for the month. I likely won’t be acquiring any of the recommended albums, but the one I’d be most interested to hear would be from The Devil Makes Three just due to the diverse influences listed.

  9. Paul W Dennis
    May 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Leeann – I really don’t keep track of what album comes out when. I think ERNEST TUBB The Early Years 1936-1945 4 CD Box set on JSP came out in April. If so, that would be my selection

  10. Saving Country Music
    May 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I’m glad to see Dale Watson get some kudos here, and Juli always seems to have an interesting take on things.

    But clearly the best album of April was Wayne Hancock’s Viper of Melody.

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