At AUK we are on a quest to find the ‘top 10 americana albums ever’. Over the last few weeks our writers have been going through the mental anguish of trying to narrow the whole history of americana down to just ten albums. When every writer has had their say, a shortlist of the most frequently chosen albums will be drawn up and voted on, in order to generate the definitive AUK writers top ten. Having last week featured one our most senior writers, this week we turn to our youngest. I must admit I’ve been looking forward to this one and a younger perspective. Ewan Lury, of course, has not disappointed. A fascinating list. Enjoy.
When asked to write about my ‘top 10 americana albums ever’, as someone who is relatively new to the americana scene and didn’t grow up with many of the great americana acts that my fellow writers have mentioned, it’s no lie when I say I struggled. Thus you may see some acts that blur the lines of the genre. But who’s to say what’s americana and what isn’t? Well I guess the readers of this website…
Number 10: Bruce Springsteen ‘Western Stars’
The decision to include this Springsteen album was in no way contentious. The Boss’s latest of countless brilliant albums, ‘Western Stars’, is a what I feel like Americana truly is, storytelling at its finest. Powerful arrangements and brilliant lyrics couple together to make an album which has the ability to go down as one of the greats.
Number 9: The SteelDrivers ‘The SteelDrivers’
Having been a big fan of Chris Stapleton, (who may or may not show up again later in my list), I decided to dive deeper into his back catalogue and I discovered this brilliant album from his time as part of the award-winning ‘The SteelDrivers’. Interestingly, I already knew one of the songs on it before I ever listened to the album, ‘If it Hadn’t Been for Love’, because Adele covered it famously in 2011, saying what an amazing voice the lead singer of the SteelDrivers had. Little did we know that 9 years later we would be hearing that music on repeat every day. This is an album that definitely flies under the radar and each of the musicians, not just Stapleton, deserve their moment of praise.
Number 8: Sturgill Simpson ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’
When I listen to an artist, one thing that always makes me like them more is when they have the ability to take the fine polished nature of an album, and be brilliant live. Whilst Sturgill’s style is quite unconventional, this album is brilliant and is one that you really want to turn up loud in your car. Favourites on the album include ‘Keep Between the Lines’ and the extremely emotive ‘Call to Arms’.
Number 7: The Avett Brothers ‘True Sadness’
“My heart is in the puppet box and Satan pulls the strings.” This line was one I heard on Jimmy Fallon in 2016 when I was introduced to the Avett brothers. ‘True Sadness’ is a beautiful album and one that will have you crying in parts and screaming from your heart in others. From the emotional ‘Mama I Don’t Believe’ to the jovial ‘Ain’t no Man’, this album has something for everyone. Luckily for me, I enjoyed it all.
Number 6: Dallas Burrow ‘Southern Wind’
Here’s an album that most of you probably haven’t heard of, but is one that you should definitely go and listen to after you finish reading my article. Dallas Burrow’s ‘Southern Wind’ was one of the first albums that I reviewed on this website and remains my highest scoring review to date. A fun album which has some of the best harmonies I’ve heard with the voice of Sierra Ferrell, Burrow almost speaks to us about his travels. It is one of those hidden gems which deserves to have a bit more of a spotlight on it.
Number 5: The Gaslight Anthem ‘The ’59 Sound’
My family came back from the 2009 London Calling in Hyde Park and told me they had just seen a new band that they thought could be the next big deal. I was only 9 at the time and wasn’t too interested but heard the music from ‘The ’59 Sound’ in the car regularly. Looking back, with this daunting task I faced, it came to me as one of those albums that I truly love and one that I can sing along to with it blasting out of the car. Powerful and emotional storytelling lyrics, performed with the energy of a young band trying to make it, creates a quite brilliant album.
Number 4: Nils Lofgren ‘UK 2015 Face The Music Tour’
Live albums can often be rubbish, but there are a few which really standout. And this one for me means quite a lot, as I would listen to it before every GCSE exam as a way of calming me down. The extended guitar solo on ‘Girl in Motion’ is still something that relaxes me and focuses my mind. It’s also special as I was lucky enough to go and see him on this exact tour and have seen him and Springsteen a handful of times as well.
Number 3: Tyler Childers ‘Country Squire’
Having listened on repeat to the amazing ‘Feathered Indians’ from his album ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Country Squire‘ took Tyler Childers to new heights. The rocky and country vibes are brilliant and ‘House Fire’ is one of those songs that you could listen to on repeat all day. Childers probably considers himself a country star, but for me there is no doubt that he should feature on this list.
Number 2: Lyle Lovett ‘Pontiac’
A brilliant album and by far the oldest album on this list. Whilst Lovett has a brilliant collection of albums, it is ‘Pontiac’ that really stands out for me as his best album. Lyle Lovett just had to feature on this album since he was one of the first Americana acts I started listening to and is still repeatedly played around my house. Anyone who read my piece on Lovett for the A to Z would understand why he’s here.
Number 1: Chris Stapleton ‘From A Room Vol. 2’
Earlier this year, I was asked to write a piece on a ‘Classic Americana Album’ and this was my choice. The most recent Chris Stapleton album is a true masterpiece of music with two Grammy nominations. One of my favourite things about Stapleton himself is his live performances. The live SNL performance alongside Sturgill Simpson is one of the best live performances you will see. If I could have written 5 of my entries on Stapleton, then I would have….