Here’s a recap of some of the best reviewed releases of 2017 made up of four and five-star reviews received since June.
1. ‘Sad Clowns & Hillbillies,’ John Mellencamp featuring Carlene Carter (Republic Records)
This album, released in April, features great harmony vocals, star Nashville players and witty lyrics, all of which results in a wonderful record for classic country-rock fans.
2. ‘No Glory,’ The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers (Independent Release)
This album is a follow-up to the group’s 2015 debut, “Heavenly Fire.”
It walks a pleasant path between traditional gospel singing and classic rhythm and blues.
3. ‘Down At The Liquor Store,’ Steve Azar and The Kings Men (Ride Records)
The opportunity to record this August 11 release at Indianola’s historic Club Ebony with B.B. King’s backing musicians is what brought Greenville-born singer/guitarist/songwriter Steve Azar back to his home state following a long Nashville career. The music is a sophisticated take on blues.
4. ‘Guilty Of Innocence,’ Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius (Melodic Revolution Records)
This September CD/digital release is the latest from electric violinist and vocalist Joe Deninzon, and his progressive rock band Stratospheerius. Power-pop has entered the picture on some of the songs!
5. ‘Under Blue Skies,’ Calico the band (California Country Records LLC)
This July CD release, which is likely available in other forms, comes from singer/songwriters Manda Mosher and Kirsten Proffit, known collectively as Calico the band. Folk and classic country fans will like this one.
6. ‘But There’s Nowhere To Go,’ Jason Health and the Greedy Souls (Industrial Amusement)
This October release is the second album from the LA-based roots rockers. There are too many folks to list, but Heath adds guitars, piano and harmonica to his lead vocals; and, the rhythm section is tight. Rowdy rock ’n’ roll combined with lyrical darkness makes for good listening.
7. ‘Some Part Of Something,’ Whiskey Shivers (CBM/RARR)
This is certainly not regular bluegrass, but Whiskey Shivers (Bobby Fitzgerald: vocals/fiddle, Andrew VanVoorhees: bass/vocals, Meridianite James Gwyn: washboard, Jeff Hortillosa: vocals/guitar and James Bookert: banjo) makes it mostly fun. Broad-minded bluegrass backers will dig it.
8. ‘Laughing with the Reckless,’ The Contenders (Rock Ridge Music)
This November release is the debut full-length from The Contenders (singer-songwriter Jay Nash and singer-drummer Josh Day). Other musicians include bassist Daniel Rhine, keyboardist Phil Krohnengold and additional players on various songs. Bluegrassy country-rock for folks who enjoy either or both.
9. ‘James,’ Elliot Bronson (Rock Ridge Music)
This recent release comes from singer, acoustic guitarist, mellotron player, harmonicat and keyboardist Elliot Bronson. He’s supported by producer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Cobb, electric/slide guitarist Bret Hartley, bassist Brian Allen, drummer Chris Powell and singer Kristen Rogers. At times, this one sounds a lost Ryan Adams album.
10. ‘A Love So Beautiful,’ Roy Orbison with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Monument/Roy’s Boys/Legacy)
This November release combines Roy Orbison’s unique voice and songs with a symphony orchestra on recordings produced by Patrick and Reedman, abetted on a few songs by Roy’s sons Roy Jr., Wesley and Alex playing guitars and drums at times.
Roy Orbison fans and admirers of rock ’n’ roll with orchestral additions will dig this album.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him email@example.com.