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OK — do you always save the last little taste of frosting, that last sip of a really great Malbec…… for the end? You know, it’s the last lingering memory you take away, so it needs to be incredible.

So my final list for 2008 is about music. It is so hard to narrow the field…. some of it came out before this year, and I just turned on to it in 2008, while some is sparkly and new. Take a look, take a listen and tell me what you like?

Best Albums I found in 2008

    Rockferry (Duffy): this has such a retro/soul vibe; her voice is playful, sexy and just demands you pay attention. Every song on the album is great — my favorite is probably “Mercy,” which has the most insistent hook I’ve heard in a while šŸ™‚ , and “Syrup and Honey” just kicks butt!
    Accelerate (REM): it’s not a new sound, nor horribly innovative — but it’s good, and when these guys are good — they are worth a listen
    Moneyland (various artists/FDR): Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris, the Del McCoury band and others interspersed with bits and pieces of FDR’s fireside chats… check out Emmylou Harris’ heartbreaking “Mama’s Hungry Eyes,” or the Del McCoury Band’s awesomely rollicking cover of “When I’m 64”
    Simply Grand (Irma Thomas): you know how, when you’re listening to the blues, you slowly start smiling and an energy fills you? Irma Thomas will do that to you — so well. Her cover of “I think it’s Gonna Rain Today” (one of my favorite songs) is incredible, while the duet with Dr. John, “If I had any Sense I’d Go Back Home,” well if it doesn’t make you wiggle, I’m so sorry!
    Mudcrutch (Mudcrutch): I don’t know if it was the reviewer on CBS Sunday Morning or the North Carolina/Thomas Wolfe-loving girl in me who thinks of this album as Tom Petty can go home again. If I understand the story, this was his 1st band — and when they got together again, the sound was pretty sweet. The resulting album is a gem of Southern folk-rock, laid back and hot — listen to “Shady Grove,” “Topanga Cowgirl,” and the kicking “Six Days on the Road”
    Two Men with the Blues (Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis): What happens when two legends decide to have a playdate? This album is understated and intimate — infused with so much playfulness and camaraderie that it feels like listening to some friends at a jam session. Check out “Ain’t nobody’s Business,” or the iconic “Georgia on My Mind.”
    Volume I (She & Him): You may know Zooey Deschanel as an actress, but wow, she can sing! This album created with indie performer M. Ward is a coffeehouse kind of disc — put it on while the rain is beating against the roof, with a big mug of hot tea. “Sentimental Heart,” “This is not a Test,” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” are my favorites.
    She Ain’t Me (Carrie Rodriguez): strong old-fashioned rocker chick voice, with a repertoire of “hurting songs” that fuse folk and rock. “She Ain’t Me” is really well-done, but I love “El Salvador”
    **add maybe: I got the Police reunion album, Certifiable for Christmas, and I haven’t had a chance to play it enough to put it on the list — but, so far, I do love it!!

Listened to with the little girls….. there’s nothing like driving/cooking/dancing with them while we have something wonderful playing in the background

    1776: You know the musical from way back, with William Daniels and Ken (the White Shadow) Howard. We watched the video this summer, and it just amused us completely. As we listen to the soundtrack, we still giggle listening to “He Plays the Violin,” and “the Egg.”
    Cheetah Girls, One World: there has to be a little Disney channel, and these ladies are among the best of their group. Mixed in a little Bollywood, with the pop/hip-hop sound and you have a winner.
    Hairspray: we’re musical theater girls, what can I say? The remake of John Waters’ delightful paean to tolerance is shinier and peppier than the original, but the music is fun, and ever so danceable.
    Mamma Mia: we love this movie — and we probably drove Chris crazy on at least one drive this holiday season, as we listened to the soundtrack rather obsessively šŸ™‚
    **and one memorable night dancing on the deck in the rain while Kelly Rowland belted out “I’m Beginning to See the Light”

Discoveries and Delights — less formal, but nonetheless wow moments in music 2008:

    Joan Armatrading: I’d heard the odd song of hers on and off for years, but this year’s Into the Blues, with the song, “There Ain’t a Woman Alive” is golden. And just as I found that song, a friend who is a huge fan introduced me to some of her older stuff.
    William Galison: great harmonica-ist (? is that a word), great lyricist, and turns out he writes awesome political songs…..look on youtube for the “Barack for Swing Voters,” featuring Will and an orchestra. Too much fun!
    Last Stone Cast: OK, I was in school with Jon, so it’s kind of a biased plug…. Having said that, if you are a fan of real rock with great lyrics, check them out. When you’re good, it doesn’t matter if your friends are fans šŸ™‚ I know it’s the girl song on the album, but I really like “Only You”
    Donna Hughes: I saw her live at a little place in Saluda, NC. She is completely incredible. When she breaks out, which she undoubtedly will — I get to say, I saw her then…. she has a couple of albums, Gaining Wisdom is the more polished, and her cover of “Time after Time” will give you chills!
    Natasha Bedingfield: OK, “Pocketful of Sunshine” was everywhere this year — but it’s not a bad song. I loved watching my oldest perform it for the family Christmas show.
    Sara Barielles: So much more than “Love Song,” and “Many the Miles.” I think she’ll be someone I spend a little more time with in 2009
    Brendan James: at first, while I liked his voice — I kind of pigeon-holed him into the John Mayer, soulful piano dude, go for the swoon-y girls kind of guy….. but! First, that was really awful on my part — I shouldn’t skewer someone without listening to a little more. And second, I did and I found “Hero’s Song,” which is one of the most eloquent, powerful and darkly resonant songs I’ve listened to in a long time.
    Christine Kane: she’s been on and off my radar for several years, but to end the listing with a laugh — you should listen to “(No Such Things as) Girls Like That.” If you’re easily offended, you might not enjoy it — it rather skews the “bimbo” image, but it does so with a good beat and terrific lyrics!

Here’s to more awesome music in 2009!

Take care,
Aly

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