Wanda’s Choice of Best CDs of 2014

Jan 3, 2015

Every year, WAMC  receives hundreds of CDs  of new music for consideration for airplay for The Hudson River Sampler.  These may arrive via the mail, or sometimes I pick them up directly from the artists at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance meeting in Kerhonksen, New York, in November, or at the Folk Alliance International meeting in Kansas City in February. 

So many talented musicians are producing great  music these days that it’s often difficult to develop a “best of” list at the end of every year.  This year was no exception.  My choices are just that -- choices -- basically, a matter of my personal taste, and a reflection of what you may hear every Saturday night during The Hudson River Sampler.

What usually impresses me is a CD that presents an artist or artists whose recording reproduces as closely as possible a live performance.  I need to be able to hear the lyrics; the words cannot be buried under overproduction.  I tell artists this all the time when they ask me what I look for in selecting songs for airplay. 

The first five on this list are the ones that made this list without a second thought on my part.  In fact, Anne Hills’ latest CD, “Tracks,” is my favorite of all the new recordings of 2014.  The rest are presented in alphabetical order.  

  1. Anne Hills - Tracks
  2. Lizzy Hoyt - New Lady on the Prairie
  3. Jez Lowe - The Ballad Beyond
  4. John Malcolm Penn - Driftin' River
  5. Molasses Creek - Something Worth Having
  6. Scott Ainslie - The Last Shot Got Him
  7. Craig Bickhardt - The More I Wonder
  8. Kyle Carey - North Star
  9. Karan Casey - Two More Hours
  10. Rosanne Cash - The River and the Thread
  11. Joe Crookston - Georgia, I’m Here
  12. Davey-O - No Passengers
  13. Vance Gilbert - Bad Dog Buffet
  14. John Gorka - Bright Side of Down
  15. Matt and Shannon - Tell You in Earnest
  16. Michael Jerling -  Halfway Home
  17. Johnsmith - The Longing Road
  18. Cassie and Maggie - Sterling Road
  19. Cahalen Morrison and Eli West - I’ll Swing My Hammer with Both My Hands
  20. Louise Mosire - Lay It Down
  21. Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt - Crooked Fiddle
  22. Victor Paul and Claudine Langille - You Are My Flower
  23. Peter, Paul and Mary - Discovered Live in Concert
  24. Jim Photoglo - Halls of My Heart
  25. Nell Robinson - The Rose of No Man’s Land
  26. Garnet Rogers - Summer’s End
  27. Billy Strings and Don Julin - Rock of Ages
  28. Thompson Family - Family
  29. Various Artists - Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie
  30. Jack Williams - Four Good Days