Ten Albums That Should Be Grammy Nominated Over Linda Chorney's
The small world of Americana music is all a-twitter over New Jersey woman Linda Chorney's nomination for a Grammy in the Americana category. In case you haven't been following the story, Chorney discovered a way to game the system and managed to convince quite a number of Grammy voters (who obviously are a little under-educated and under-exposed to the Americana genre) to vote for her tepid album, Emotional Jukebox, to get it on the final ballot in spite of it not having sold a single unit so far according to Sound Scan, the official industry tabulator of album sales.
Photo by Jason Wolter Jason Isbell (left) and Amanda Shires (right) are both more deserving than Chorney.
According to interviews she's given, Chorney seems to have very little working knowledge of Americana or the artists in it. The Americana Music Association, which normally issues a boilerplate congratulatory statement to all the nominees, has not done so this year and speculation is that the association is not happy about Chorney's nomination since she is not a member of the organization and has never attended any of the annual events.
Frankly, we don't care if she's a member of the AMA or not; what bugs us about Chorney's gameswomanship is that she has knocked a number of exemplary albums out of a chance to win. And we'll bet she hasn't heard a damned one of them. So here's a list for you, Linda, of people you are basically screwing over. Like we said, do the right thing and withdraw your nomination.
Amanda Shires - Carrying Lightning
On her second solo album, Shires hits the big time with her Dolly Parton-esque vibrato and a fiddle that echoes giants like Spade Cooley (look it up, Linda). A Lubbock native who snuck into bars to play fiddle in bands when she was only 14, Shires hit pay dirt in 2011 with a major feature in Texas Monthly, an upcoming cover story in Texas Music, and a sideline playing in boyfriend Jason Isbell's band. Her "When You Need A Train It Never Comes" was selected as the number five song in American Songwriter magazine's annual list of top fifty songs.
Jason Isbell - Here We Rest
Jason Isbell dropped as close to a perfect Americana album as can be done in 2011. His third solo since parting ways with Drive By Truckers (look it up, Linda), Isbell drives nails through hearts with "Alabama Pines," "Tour of Duty," "Go It Alone," gets all Muscle Shoals funky on "Never Could Believe" and "Heart on a String," and kills us emotionally with the unforgettable "Codeine," which contains one of the killer lines of the year: "If there's two things that I hate / It's having to cook and trying to date." No wonder "Codeine" was number two on the American Songwriter list. If we could vote, this would be our 2011 winner. Sorry, Linda.
Jessica Lee Mayfield - Tell Me
At 22, Mayfield is a battle-hardened troubadour, the spawn of a bluegrass family who took her music down the dark roads of people like Elliott Smith. When Dan Auerbach of Black Keys (look it up, Linda) got a copy of an EP Mayfield recorded at 16 -- she only printed a hundred copies but one ended up in Auerbach's hands -- the Black Key genius jumped in to produce her next two albums, including this year's excellent Tell Me. Don't look now, Linda, but Mayfield's album was number 17 on the American Songwriter list of top fifty albums. Didn't notice Emotional Jukebox anywhere on that list. Mayfield's tune "Trouble" is number 11 on the song list. Let us know when Auerbach calls you, Linda.
Fred Eaglesmith - 6 Volts
Fred writes exactly the kinds of songs Linda Chorney doesn't: Memorable, believable characters, lyrics cut from the earth like a scribbling strip mine, and a sense of humanity and blue collar emotion that comes from farming (not commodities trading). Take a listen to "Betty Oshawa" and get a clue to what this songwriting stuff is all about, Linda.
Eaglesmith's musical enterprise is so successful he barely engages the system at all, barnstorming across Canada, the States and northern Europe in an endless trail of hard currency and adoring fans. And record sales. And just to be clear about the ornery Eaglesmith, he don't need no stinkin' Grammy and he certainly would never sink to campaigning for one.
Brian Wright's House on Fire - Proper In All Cases
A virtual unknown on the Americana scene, since his move from Central Texas to Los Angeles Wright's inner Texas singer-songwriter has awakened and he delivered one of the most pleasant surprises of 2011 with Proper In All Cases. A long term studio project that Wright pieced together mostly on his own, it features several stunners that stretch the Americana boundaries right to the edge of adult contemporary or adult alternative; "Had Enough" is a sly love song that approaches Hayes Carll territory for its subtle humor, but the monster tracks are "Maria Sugarcane" and the amazing "Accordion," which pays homage to the kind of woman we all want and are afraid of: "She don't record, she don't rehearse / She's got no chords, she's got no verse / Sweetest song you never heard." (No, we don't think that verse is about Linda and her folkie Muzak.)