Folk & Country: Year in Review 2010

Folk & Country: Year in Review 2010
1. The Sadies
2. Basia Bulat
3. Jason Collett
4. Ghostkeeper
5. Baby Eagle
6. Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans
7. Old Man Luedecke
8. The Tallest Man on Earth
9. Daniel Fred & Julie
10. Mountains and the Trees

1. The Sadies Darker Circles (Outside)
Staying on top of the Sadies' progress over the past decade has been a wild ride. Aside from an endless string of collaborations, each album has edged closer to psychedelic country-rock perfection. The biggest obstacle has always been raising their songwriting game to the same level as their instrumental prowess, and that has finally been accomplished on Darker Circles. The richly detailed storytelling of "Tell Her What I Said" and "Violet and Jeffrey Lee" hasn't come out of nowhere, but carrying it through an entire album's duration is something new for a band that until now has always been more comfortable on stage than in the studio. Singer/guitarist Dallas Good admits that the band's role in several projects over the past few years played a large part in getting he and his brother Travis to focus on their own songwriting.

"In the past we'd always put so much emphasis on doing old-time country stuff, and by the time we did the [Country Club] album with John Doe, we were blue in the face with it," he says. "At the same time, we did the Tales of the Rat Fink soundtrack, which kind of purged our aggressive instrumental side. Working on a bunch of these albums that didn't require lyrics really allowed us, for the first time, to have our own songs totally finished before we recorded them."

Good adds that the first half of Darker Circles especially exemplifies an impressionistic writing style he hopes the band will continue to develop. "After making however many records we've made, there are certain sounds that become comfortable to gravitate toward. It's great that we've gotten to a point that whenever one of us feels like stepping out of our safety zone, the other guys won't glare back like three wizards trying to turn him into a frog."
Jason Schneider