Jackie Sauter’s Favorite Music of 2015

The Mavericks, Mono

Anyone who listens to my Monday afternoon show knows that I just adore the Cuban/Alt-Country/Rock/ Ska-ish sound of The Mavericks, a band that came out of South Florida a few decades ago and is still making great music. Impossible to hear them and not want to get up and dance. This latest album is nominated for a Grammy for best of the year in the Americana category, and this song is up for the “Best American Roots Performance.”  And who can resist the gorgeous voice of Raul Malo, who has been called “heartthrob for the ages.” Yes indeed.

Cecile McLorin Salvant, For One to Love

An amazing vocalist. At 26, she has already won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz  prize, been named as “best” in multiple jazz polls, received widespread critical acclaim, and has had two albums, including this one, nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Amy Helm, Didn’t It Rain

A powerful collection of songs by a great singer who is the daughter of the late and great Levon Helm of The Band. She’s been making music most of her life, and assembled an amazing group of musicians and back-up vocalists for the album.

Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free

A real talent, both as a performer and as a songwriter. Great stories, great lyrics, great melodies. Isbell is a former member of the Drive-By Truckers. As with the Maverick’s Mono, this album is nominated for a Grammy for the Best Americana Album, and this song is up in the Best American Roots song category.

Chris Stapleton, Traveller

Oh, what a voice. Wowza songs, plus he’s got that soulful torch and twangy, bluesy thing going on. This is what country music could/should be. This guy is a major talent, has written amazing songs for other singers, was lead singer of the critically acclaimed bluegrass group The SteelDrivers, and won the 2015 Country Music Association Award for Best Male Vocalist, New Artist of the Year, and Album of the Year. He also received four Grammy Award nominations for this recording including Album of the Year and Best Country Album, as well as Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance for this song.

Eva Cassidy, Nightbird

Another great voice. In her short life (she died in 1996, at the age of 33) this American vocalist sang jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country, rock and pop classics. Her albums topped the charts in England and across Europe. Since her death, she’s become a cult favorite in the U.S. as well. This remixed and remastered recording, a double album, was recorded at Blues Alley, and this version features many songs not on the original recording. An incredible performance. Released just a  few weeks ago, the CD stock is already sold out, but should be available again soon.

About Jackie Sauter

Jackie is NCPR's program director