September may have been a somewhat skimpy month for new releases, but there was still plenty of good music to be had by those who were paying attention. Here are our picks for the best tracks on new albums released within the month.
Slaid Cleaves – “One Good Year”
from Sorrow and Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge
If 2011 didn’t pan out quite as you had expected, here’s your song for the new year. Let’s hope it’s never too late to turn things around. Key lyric: “Just give me one good year to get my feet back on the ground/I’ve been chasing grace and grace ain’t so easily found.”
George Strait – “Drinkin’ Man”
from Here for a Good Time
“Poison” seems the unanimous critical favorite, but I think this one will wear better with repetition.
Reckless Kelly – “I Never Liked St. Valentine”
from Good Luck & True Love
It’s a Todd Snider cowrite. What’d you expect me to do, not recommend it? Inconceivable.
LeAnn Rimes – “Sixteen Tons”
from Lady and Gentlemen
Rimes and producer Vince Gill swing the Merle Travis classic hard, big band style. And it works wonderfully. Also not to be missed: a wonderfully exposed reading of Hag’s “I Can’t Be Myself” and the updated version of “Blue.” In fact, the whole album is better than expected.
Sonia Leigh – “Ain’t Dead Yet”
from 1978 December
Leigh’s best shot at country radio outside of “My Name Is Money.” Nice and accessible.
Del McCoury Band – “Brakeman’s Blues”
from Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe
Any time you can get Del McCoury yodeling, I’m all for it.
Kenny Vaughan – “Hot Like That”
Fabulous Superlative and guitarist extraordinaire offers fetching, playful tribute to a girl so fast she can “pitch it from the mound, run and smack it with the bat.” Ha.
The Dirt Daubers – “Get Outta My Way”
from Wake Up, Sinners!
Spunky as vocalist Jessica Wilkes sounds on this fast-shuffling tune, you’d be a fool to try to stop her.
Kyle Park – “I Think You’re in Love”
from Make or Break Me
Contemporary Texas country with a nice, lazy swing.
Tom Russell – “The Lonesome Death of Ukelele Ike”
The saddest song here is also the sunniest sounding, as befits the tale of Cliff Edwards, vaudeville star and beloved voice of Jiminy Cricket who died “penniless and forgotten in the motion picture old folks’ home” after long battles with alcohol and drug addiction.
You can sample most of the songs below.