This year's Folk/Americana poll winners represent a genre looking back on the past and forward to the future. Aaron Lee Tasjan's new record perfectly captures the new direction of alternative country while Taylor Alexander harkens back to the genre's classic roots.
Aaron Lee Tasjan's new record, Silver Tears takes a progressive political stance: "There's a redneck bummer in an H2 Hummer / And he sure does hate the queers / I guess some life choices are cries for help / That nobody ever hears," Tasjan sings on "Hard Life." The genius of Tasjan's songwriting takes the form of a Trojan Horse. He uses the vehicle of roots country to challenge often destructive established southern cultural norms. Songwriting ability isn't the only creative muscle Tasjan flexes on the latest record either. There's a wide variety of instrumentation and production that keeps things interesting. From pedal steel and reverb soaked slide guitar-based rockers to saloon style piano blues numbers, Silver Tears has something to offer country fans of all stripes.
Taylor Alexander makes the kind of music you'd be surprised to know still thrives in certain niches. Alexander's retro style is decidedly Nashvillian. With numbers you'd expect to square dance to, the songs occupy a unique space in the city's country scene and serve as a refreshing reminder of country music's founding influences. With a country accent and deep cowboy-voice remiscent of George Strait, Alexander tactfully crafts everything from cheerful dance numbers to melancholy narratives about past experiences.
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