By Steve Newton
Welcome to the old-rocker department. You won’t find much in the hip-and-happening realm here, but it’s not all about the kids, ya know.
Gregg Allman Southern Blood
One of the hardest-hitting musician deaths this year was southern-rock legend Gregg Allman’s passing in May of complications from liver cancer. But he left his millions of fans with a poignant love letter in the posthumously released Southern Blood, which combines heartfelt originals with stirring numbers by Bob Dylan, Tim Buckley, Lowell George, and Jackson Browne.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit The Nashville Sound
Jason Isbell first garnered recognition as one of the three gifted singer-songwriter-guitarists in the Drive-By Truckers, penning such DBT classics as “Decoration Day”, “Outfit”, and “TVA”. But since going solo in 2007 he’s staked his claim as one of the finest Americana artists around, earning two Grammys for 2015’s Something More Than Free, with The Nashville Sound most likely to follow suit.
John Mellencamp Sad Clowns & Hillbillies
Heartland-rock vet John Mellencamp shines on his 23rd studio album, a rootsy disc that includes contributions from country artist Carlene Carter, who shares the vocals on five tracks. “Grandview”—an ode to trailer-park life, boasting tasty guitar bits by ex-Gunner Izzy Stradlin—is a highlight.
Neil Young Hitchhiker
There’s nothing I like more than hearing Neil Young crank it out with Crazy Horse, but there’s something magical about him just going it alone. These 10 tracks recorded in one beer-, coke-, and weed-fuelled night in ’76 include a couple of my all-time faves, “Powderfinger” and “Campaigner”.
Gov’t Mule Revolution Come…Revolution Go
Former Allman Brothers member Warren Haynes leads his jam-happy southern blues-rock band in a smoldering collection of politically driven songs confronting the fear and divisiveness in America today.
Walter Trout We’re All in This Together
Blues-guitar great Walter Trout pulls out all the stops on a star-studded album that sees him trading licks with such illustrious pickers as Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Robben Ford, Warren Haynes, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Gales, Joe Louis Walker, and B.C.’s own Randy Bachman.
Leeroy Stagger Love Versus
Alberta roots artist Leeroy Stagger won over $100,000 in the 2015 Alberta Peak Performance Project competition, and he seems to have put the money to fine use on Love Versus. Whether paying tribute to his punk heroes on “Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone” or referencing his recent windfall on “Crooked Old World”, every song rings honest and true.
Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ TajMo
Long-time friends Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ record their first album together, aiming for an upbeat blues vibe and delivering big-time.
Buster Brown & the New Resolutions Buster Brown & the New Resolutions
Local guitar wizard Andreas Schuld delivers a jazzy, funky instrumental tour de force with a core band that includes former Skywalk keyboardist Graeme Coleman, bassist Norm Fisher, and Vancouver drum god Pat Steward (Bryan Adams, Odds).
Tedeschi Trucks Band Live From the Fox Oakland
It’s a bit cheeky sneaking a live album onto a list normally meant for studio recordings, but I couldn’t resist including this smokin’ document of the 11-piece TTB in full flight.