Monday, January 01, 2007

The 2006 Twenty (Part One)

The Twenty are my favorite reasons to have owned a CD player in 2006. They are listed in alphabetical order by artist and the links (where applicable) lead to the original reviews posted on this blog over the course of the year.

Anjani – Blue Alert

This is a luminous collaboration with master songwriter (and CD producer) Leonard Cohen. Anjani was given access to some unfinished Cohen poems, journals, and lyrics and she completed them with Cohen’s aid and consent and the results are lovely, ethereal, and moving.

India Arie – Testimony, Volume 1: Love and Relationship

Songs of faith and empowerment…songs of self-awareness and hope for humankind…songs that could be insufferably cloying were it not for the sweetly earnest outlook that colors each of them… a sweet, uplifting, entertaining journey indeed.

The Beatles – Love

An interesting, and often successful, experiment…it doesn’t supplant or blaspheme the original classics (which are still out there to be enjoyed in all of their undeniable original glory)…it’s just a bit of heartfelt fun that is at once wonderfully familiar and, at the same time, a fine new experience with the Fab Four.

Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

An utterly gorgeous collection of 12 melodic, poetic songs that are neither country nor pop but rather an intoxicating blend of the two (with the stellar musicianship defying any facile pop sheen to take hold.)

The Dixie Chicks – Taking the Long Way

An assured, defiant, melodic return to form after the mixed results of their last studio disc (2000’s Home)…as much pop as country and it’s all the better for that.

Bob Dylan – Modern Times

A laidback…but never dull…record that Dylan produced (using the pseudonym of Jack Frost) using only his crack touring band as his support musicians (a grand idea…the players all compliment each other beautifully) and it feels lived-in and familiar (in a very good way) from the very first listen.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris – All the Roadrunning

An enchanting collaboration between two amazing artists, the always angelic voice of Emmylou and the distinctive guitar and voice of Knopfler blending to very amazing effect. (The live follow-up CD/DVD set…Real Live Roadrunning…which features some of the songs from here along with selections from their individual albums, is also more than worthwhile.)

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat

Rilo Kiley’s front-woman steps out with a beautifully realized collection of country-flavored tunes aided and abetted by the shimmering harmonies of the Watson sisters.

Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere

Insanely catchy, enormously inventive, and uncompromisingly entertaining…this hip hop/pop/r&b music at its finest.

Sam Moore – Overnight Sensational

A fine, fun album showcasing the still potent pipes of a true soul survivor with able support from a great supporting cast of friends and fans (including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, and Fantasia.)

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