Our Favourite Roots Records of 2016, So Far

June 21, 2016 | By

With the end of June fast approaching, it seems a good time to look back on the roots music released in the first half of the year.

Here, in alphabetical order by artist, are my favourite new roots music albums of the year to date. That is not to say they are the best because first off, “best” is purely subjective, and therefore a matter of opinion, and second, I do not claim to have heard every roots music record released.

Real Midnight – Birds of Chicago

An exceptional blending of two fine musical talents, intent on creating a sound they call ‘secular gospel’.


The Couchville Sessions – Darrell Scott

Music that was actually recorded a good number of years ago, but mixed, mastered and released in 2016, this album is authentic and honest and the musicianship is beyond compare.


Southern Family – Dave Cobb (producer)

A concept album, imagined and driven forward by the brilliant producer Dave Cobb, this record brings together artists from across the Americana music community with their reflections on southern family life.


Exodus of Venus – Elizabeth Cook

This one is brand new, just a week since it’s release, but some of the songs had been released as teasers, and Elizabeth had been performing some of them for a while now. Here first record in a while, and something of a return, it is one of those highly anticipated releases which more than lived up to the hype.


Ladies and Gentlemen – The Infamous Stringdusters

This record is a concept which was previously worked successfully by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings on their record Kings and Queens: An all male band invites a stellar collection of female vocalists to join them.

It worked brilliantly well for the Rodeo Kings, and it works just as well for the bluegrass boys of the Stringdusters.


The Things That We Are Made Of – Mary Chapin Carpenter

A brilliant meditation on coming to terms with where one has been and where one is going, now that the middle years have arrived.


Willow Springs – Michael McDermott

A fully realized song cycle dealing with a descent into battles with addiction and other demons, and the importance of love and family in overcoming it all.


The Very Last Day – Parker Millsap

This record, coming from such a young artist, is a courageous attempt to reconcile the contradictions of the faith in which you were raised with the authentic self you have discovered within.


Undercurrent – Sarah Jarosz

Another record still fresh on the shelves having been released a week ago, Sarah continues to demonstrate her skills and talents as musician, songwriter and singer. It`s her first album with no covers, and that`s just fine!


Six On The Out – The Westies

With so much great roots music coming out all the time, it is, on one level, tough to include two albums from the same artist on this list. Having said that, The Westies, which is Michael McDermott`s duo with his wife Heather Horton is easily one of the best records I have come upon in a very long time.

The songwriting is there from start to finish, and the combination of the talents of McDermott and Horton is a beautiful thing to hear.


You may well disagree, but as I said off the top, everything is subjective when it comes to these sort of lists. If you found something here you had not heard before, and you like it, go buy the record!

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Category: Artists We Play, Record Reviews, Special Features

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