I bought a house and got engaged in 2014, then got married in 2015. This year I feel like mostly I worked — at this job, and in the work of my personal life, doing fun-hard things like rebuilding our kitchen and helping in my wife’s garden. More often than not, that time was soundtracked by songs with acoustic guitar.
There are a bunch of reasons acoustic guitars aren’t the biggest sound we showcase at The FADER these days — though I’m still proud of the country music coverage we did in 2016, whether it was big-upping Buck’s gay bro-country or my extended interview with Nashville’s star-making producer Dave Cobb.
Anyways, looking back, and in particular looking at what might’ve slipped through the cracks here and everywhere else, I'm here to bring you 25 gems made with old-fashioned wood and wire.
1. Dori Freeman, “You Say”
Dori Freeman, hailing from far-southwest Virginia, has the prettiest, most subtly commanding new voice I heard in 2016.
2. William Michael Morgan, “Cheap Cologne”
After Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson brought attention to that sort-of-’70s country outlaw style, here equally talented newcomer William Michael Morgan revives the forgotten sound of the ’90s mainstream. He’s trad-country’s greatest 2016 revelation — and all the more so because he’s collaborated harmoniously with the unabashed experimenter Sam Hunt.
3. Daniel Bachman, “Brightleaf Blues”
Daniel Bachman, 26, has already earned the reputation of one of acoustic guitar’s most exciting players. This bleak song fucked me up when I first heard it, then all over again when I saw the video, which features an assist from fellow Virginia musician Forrest Marquisee on a homemade drone instrument that looks like a torture rack. Tell me that’s not relevant.
5. Evan Webb and the Rural Route Ramblers, “Dry Up or Drown”
Like the Bachman cut above, this one’s video makes a big difference. Evan Webb surveys heartbreaking flood devastation in Missouri as he sings one of the year’s saddest couplets: “God is great and God is good/ But he’s never gonna save this town.”