Andrew Leahey, music reviewer for The Washington Times, lists his top 10 movies of 2012.
‘Live from Alabama’
Formerly of the Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell cranked his solo career into high gear in 2012, a busy year that found him winning an Americana award for the hit song “Alabama Pines” and touring the world with his three-piece backup band, the 400 Unit. That tour is documented on “Live from Alabama,” a concert album that finds the guys bouncing between electrified country-rockers and grizzled ballads. There are no overdubs, no post-production corrections to fix any bum notes or flubbed chords. “Live from Alabama” sounds more like a high-quality bootleg, which suits this sort of honest, American-sounding rock music.
Channeling Carole King one minute and Neko Case the next, Jessie Baylin fills her third album with old-school pop music and sleepy, sepia-toned Americana. The Watson Twins sing backup harmonies on at least half of these songs, but it’s Miss Baylin’s voice that steals the show. She’s like a torch singer for the iPod generation, slurring her words for woozy effect.
‘Goodbye Normal Street’
Steeped in the storytelling tradition of Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle, these Oklahoma boys turn “Goodbye Normal Street” into an album about blue-collar, small-town America. The music is exactly what you would expect — rootsy rock ‘n’ roll, with an obvious debt to country music — and the songs find new mileage in familiar topics.
‘Cigarettes & Truck Stops’
Although raised in the Toronto suburbs, Lindi Ortega channels the American South on this old-school country album. She sings like Dolly Parton, armed with a fluttery croon that’s simultaneously heartbreaking and gorgeous, and she fills her backup band with country veterans, including Johnny Cash’s former bassist.
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