Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Folk and Country Page 3

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:Folk and Country
9. Old Man Luedecke
Tender Is The Night
(True North)

For nearly ten years, Old Man Luedecke has been producing some of the country's purest, brightest and most authentic folk music. A decade of devotion to his craft has paid off for the Chester, NS artist, whose fifth full-length album, Tender Is The Night, combines Luedecke's hooky melodies and vibrant lyrics with beautifully polished production. His familiar voice and his fingers flying over the banjo strings have never sounded warmer or more inviting thanks to the attentions of a Grammy-winning production team. The album was recorded in Nashville at the Butcher Shoppe (a studio owned by John Prine and renowned sound engineer David Ferguson) and American bluegrass musician Tim O'Brien is once again in the producer's seat. From the goofy "A&W Song" to the heartfelt "Tender Is The Night" to foot-stompers like "Tortoise and the Hare" and "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" the songs are true to Luedecke's unique musical sensibilities: always light in spirit even when his themes are weighty. Luedecke already won two Junos for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year in 2009 and 2011. But from the sounds of Tender Is The Night, it seems this old man is only just getting started.
Rachel Sanders

8. Bill Fay
Life Is People
(Dead Oceans)

Most artists have that one song, the song that usually appears at the end of an album that carries the weight of the world and sums up everything the songwriter has been hinting at for the last 40 minutes. It's a song that attempts to do nothing less than communicate the human condition, that has fans weeping during a dramatic centrepiece in the live show, that invariably gets scooped up by movie music supervisors for use in particularly poignant montages. It's the song that, if done well enough, ends up being "The Song" of an artist's career. Bill Fay, a long-forgotten never-was who hasn't put out a proper album in almost 40 years, has suddenly coughed up 12 of those songs. Granted, one of them is a Wilco cover, and Jeff Tweedy shows up for a duet on the one and only up-tempo number. Fay has spent literally a lifetime crafting these songs, full of wonder and enlightenment and acute observation, but he recorded quickly with a young producer who knew how to marry Fay's '70s British singer-songwriter vibe with occasional modern moody psychedelia on arrangements that place his lyrics in haunting, evocative soundscapes and lush, gospel-tinged folk. If you had no idea who Bill Fay was before hearing this album you'll be thankful he waited this long to release an album this good, and rejoice in the fact that he's still alive to get his due.
Michael Barclay

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