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Best of 2009
By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Greetings folks, well looking back over the last year I will try to share my top ten favorites. Personally last year was a bit disappointing to me as compared to years before. Because it was a difficult year in many ways, financially, for our country, many people out of work, usually hard times brings out great music. Last year, I did not find particularly great music, but, I did find 10 CDs that I would call inspiring and very good musically. Picking from Bluegrass, Country and country rock... without further ado, here they are:


1. Here With Me - Holly Williams: This is a very high quality CD that finds Holly at the top of her game. There are many singles here that I would find as hits if country music was not such an inclusive club. Granddaughter of Hank and daughter of Hank Jr., she has a great country voice, plus is a good songwriter herself.
2. Beautiful Day - Charlie Robison: A hot country rock album with very well done, some might say, great electric guitar by Charlie Sexton. Ten great songs, love the style of it, a great listen.
3. Mountain Soul 2 - Patty Loveless: Maybe this should be #1, I don't know, any of these top 3 are interchangeable in my opinion. This starts up where Mountain Soul, left off with "Busted" by Harlan Howard. The album goes is a wonderful mountain music record with bluegrass and lots of truly great acoustic/country music, put together with the help of her hubby/Producer Emory Gordon Jr.
4. One More For The Road - Adam Steffey: Another great CD which is true bluegrass with a modern presentation, recorded by Gary Pacsoza, my favorite acoustic recording engineer, producer etc. Pacsaza is now doing A and R for Sugar Hill Records, one of the oldest and biggest roster of bluegrass record labels in the country, that would include this great CD by Adam Steffey.
5. Play - Brad Paisley: I find this one of Paisley's best, simply because he took some time to share with us what he does best, play guitar, plus he has many guest artists here too. I have found Paisley's music to be formatted the same way every CD since his first one, not the case here, Paisley plays mostly instrumentals on this record. He shares his awesome skills as a guitarist, one of the finest today, up there with Brent Mason, Vince Gill and Steve Wariner. He goes beyond country into blues, rock, even British sounding rock. He finds time to add humor with playing some Eric Johnson type music on the CD to add a song called "Cliffs Of Rock City", lampooning Johnson's "Cliffs Of Dover". You might need to live in Tennessee to fully get that.
6. Cowboy Crush: These three gals are dynamite. Why they are not on a major label eludes me, they have that major label sound. They are a bit more pop than the original Dixie Chicks, but they play with incredible enthusiasm and have some great material. Well, no one said that life was fair. But, give these gals a listen, they are good, to put it mildly.
7. Heartbreakers' Hall of Fame - Sunny Sweeney: OK, now "this" is Texas country, honky tonk, and the very attractive Sweeney makes some music that is "Hall Of Fame" country music.
8. To Terrapin - Grateful Dead (rerelease, 5/77): One of the smartest things the Grateful Dead ever did was record every show that they ever played. The remaining members of the Dead went out on tour this year with the help of Warren Haynes on lead guitar and Jeff Chimenti on keyboards. In the background, Rhino Records releases about 5 different things from the vault, a couple of Garcia projects, plus some Dead shows including this one which was a stellar show and on top of that, a fantastic recording.
9. Russell Moore and IIIrd Time Out - self titled: This band is a very together group of bluegrass players that write and play some really good stuff, One of my favorite new labels, Rural Rhythms, which is quickly catching up to Sugar Hill and Rounder for being the hottest Bluegrass label has this band in their stable. IIIrd Time Out is a more modern sounding recording with real Bluegrass music, the best of both worlds.
10. My Sisters and Me - Gold Heart: This trio of young bluegrass/country singers and players are bound for greatness, why, because they are a delight to listen to and they sound great. Another product of Rural Rhythms Records.

Well, that's my look at '09, and looking for a better 2010, God Bless you all and "kindly, Keep It Country."
Jim Moulton

To visit Jim Moulton's website click here


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