Best of 2007 (12/29/07)

Compact Capsules Best of 2007
by Dan Ferguson

Mary Weiss, Dangerous Game (Norton)
Hands-down the comeback album of the year comes from former Shangri-Las front-lady Weiss backed by garage rockers The Reigning Sound. Talk about a marriage made in heaven. (

Detroit Cobras, Tied & True (Bloodshot)
Soul mining is at work on this churned-up batch of reworked nuggets from this gal-lead Motor City combo. Dig the drama on the ballads! (

Amy LaVere, Anchors & Anvils (Archer)
An album that sneaks up on you, Memphis chanteuse LaVere’s coquettish coo spews a seductive venom form fit for her self-described classic country/gypsy/jazz thing. (

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (Universal)
Flash in the pan? Who cares. Singing in a thick, pouty voice brimming with confidence and ’tude, Winehouse reintroduces the masses to classic throwback soul.

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone)
While Winehouse reintroduces, Jones and her Dap Kings fortify with a slab of throw-down deep soul that sends shudders down the spine. (

Jon Byrd, Byrd’s Auto Parts (Long Leaf Pine)
A gem of a low key alt country recording from a completely under the radar Nashville Telecaster master. Good original songs, excellent choice of covers, highly likeable singing voice, and twangified guitar playing to-die-for all adds up to an album worthy of ears. (

Nick Lowe, At My Age (Yep Roc)
Aging with grace and a whole lot of soul. Lowe remains timeless treasure. (

Porter Wagoner, Wagonmaster (Anti)
The pompadoured Opry legend’s swan song, with Marty Stuart and his band providing the propulsion, is a beauty, not to mention the best real country album of 2007. (

Dolly Varden, The Panic Bell (Undertow)
Suck-you-in hooks, lilting harmonies, and songs with as much heart as punch, Chicago-based four-piece deliver another dollop of indie pop magic. (

Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime (Anti)
Last year’s comeback story adds some grit to her soul stew thanks in part to a most valuable assist by the Drive-By Truckers in a support role and wows us in the process. (

Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch (New West)
Former Drive-By Trucker prodigy strikes out on his own with a Southern-baked beauty of a rock record. (

Eilen Jewell, Letters From Sinners & Strangers (Signature Sounds)
Boston-based and worthy of big things, Jewell seals the deal on her sophomore platter which is equal parts Holiday and Lee with a rootsy swing backdrop. (

Local Favorite: The ‘mericans, Where All Dead Leaves Go (75orless)

Most Valuable Player: Greg Cartwright of The Reigning Sound. Cartwright was the major force behind Mary Weiss’s album producing, contributing songs, and playing, and the Detroit Cobras’ monster of a recording contributing guitar and percussion.

Honorable Mention:
Tommy Womack, There, I Said It (Cedar Creek)
Wussy, Left For Dead (Shake It Records)
Various Artists, Just One More (Bloodshot)
Mavis Staples, We’ll Never Turn Back (Anti)
Li’l Cap’n Travis, In All Their Splendor (Glurp Records)
Jon Rauhouse, Steel Guitar Heart Attack (Bloodshot)
John Doe, A Year In the Wilderness (Yep Roc)
Cornell Hurd Band, Beyond the Purple Hills (Behemoth)
Two Dollar Pistols, Here Tomorrow, Gone Today (8th House)
Elizabeth Cook, Balls (31 Tigers)
Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh, Holdin’ Our Own (Stag)

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)