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2018 in Review | Tinnitist’s Top Alt-Roots Albums

Jerry Lee's sis & the Chicago kid are a match made in honky-tonk heaven.

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Top Pick: Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis | Wild! Wild! Wild!

I don’t know who introduced Linda Gail Lewis and Robbie Fulks, but they deserve a Grammy. If not the Nobel Prize for rockabilly boogie. For those who haven’t been paying attention or made the connection, Linda Gail is a singer-pianist who just happens to be the little sis of Jerry Lee The Killer — and sounds just like it. Fulks, by contrast, is an alt-county singer-songwriter from Chicago who defies conventions while respecting traditions. You wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be a match in honky-tonk heaven, but man oh man, you can only imagine how the sparks flew when they got in the room together. Actually, you don’t have to guess; you can hear it on every second of this instant classic. Emphasis on classic. From the first pounding piano line and growling low-neck riff to the final sweetened steel line and Jordanaires-style backing harmony, these rollicking, razor-sharp tales of hard luck, hard livin’ and hard lovin’ sound like they were rescued from the dusty jukebox of an abandoned roadhouse in rural Tennessee — except nobody in the backwoods back then was dancing to New Orleans-style jazz numbers that name-checked Booker T and Big Star. Hope there’s more more more where this came from. And if there’s any justice in this world, there oughta be a Grammy or two in the cards.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order)

• Cedric Burnside | Benton County Relic
• Alejandro Escovedo | The Crossing
• Micah P. Hinson | When I Shoot At You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy You
• Shooter Jennings | Shooter
• Larkin Poe | Venom & Faith
• Lucero | Among the Ghosts
• Punch Brothers | All Ashore
• Those Poor Bastards | Inhuman Nature

** NOTE: Because Tinnitist has only been around since mid-September, this list features albums released and reviewed since then — along with whatever else I heard and remembered from the rest of the year. If you can’t find a review by clicking on the entry or searching the site — or you spot an obvious oversight in this list — the album you’re looking for probably came out too early for me to review it. Or I just didn’t have time. Either way, my bad.