A Dozen Great Songs from 2017

December 21, 2017 | By

As much as I love albums, songs are the true bottom line in roots music.

Here is our list of twelve outstanding roots music songs, released in 2017. The songs are listed in alphabetical order, by artist name, and yes, we have included two songs from Jason Isbell.

 

Bless My Heart – Angaleena Presley

Angaleena’s whole album is filled with outspoken writing and social commentary, delivered with her often brilliant sense of humour. This song epitomizes all of that as it calls out false pretense.

American Flowers – Birds of Chicago 

The EP “American Flowers” was released late in the year; a collection of songs which didn’t quite fit with the upcoming full album from Birds of Chicago. The title track is a message of hope for the age in which we are living.

The Woman In You – Gill Landry 

This is a love song, which fits completely with the album’s title, “Love Rides A Dark Horse”. With lines like “I don’t need you to be mine, I need you to be you.” and ” the woman I love is the woman you are” speak to the strength of love needed for a partnership of equals.

Love Remains Unbroken – Gurf Morlix Music 

A love song to love, and its importance in this dark world. From the excellent album, “The Soul and The Heal”

White Man’s World – Jason Isbell
If We Were Vampires – Jason Isbell

These two songs represent the two faces of Jason Isbell’s writing. The first is an outspoken calling out of white, male privilege, which succeeds in large part because it is written from the perspective of a man taking ownership for his past sins.

The latter is, quite simply, one of the great love songs of our age.


Ain’t No Little Girl – Kasey Chambers

A cry from the heart of a woman who is tired of the games of love, this song is exceptional on the album “Dragonfly”, but it is raised several notches by Kasey’s passionate performance when she plays the song live.


Trinity Lane – Lilly Hiatt 

A song about parting ways with bad habits … “I get bored, so I wanna get drunk. I know how that goes, so I ain’t gonna touch it.”


At The Purchaser’s Option – Rhiannon Giddens

An utterly brilliant story, told from the perspective of a woman being sold into slavery. A truly important song, as is the entire “Freedom Highway” album.


It Ain’t Over Yet – Rodney Crowell (Official) 

Rodney Crowell and friends, having a conversation about aging, and carrying on in spite of what a drag it is getting old.


Banshee Moan – Shannon McNally Music 

Simply one of the most important songs released this year, “Banshee Moan” is a memorial to the battles past and present as we work toward true equality for women.


Red Lights in the Rain – Stephen Fearing

Stephen Fearing’s latest album, “Every Soul’s A Sailor” is, for this long time fan, his best. This song, about the itinerant life of the singer/songwriter, imprinted itself on my memory in one listening, at a live performance before the record was released.  It is just that perfectly written.

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