1. Dustin Kensrue - "Pistol"
If you're a fan of Thrice then you recognize this name and voice. Dustin Kensrue doubles as the vocals and rhythm guitarist for the Orange County punk group. While "Pistol" features a full backing band it's an acoustic song at it's core that could be just as easily played on the corner of a bed and sung into a microphone plugged into an old desktop computer.
2. William Fitzsimmons - "When You Were Young"
Though his songs have been featured in popular TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, William Fitzsimmons has yet to make a large splash in the music scene. I'm sure if you asked his opinion on that he'd be 100% fine with it.
With a relaxing voice and withdrawn guitar playing "When You Were Young" is a song that can capture you for it's almost 6 minute duration and make you feel like it passed in an eye's blink.
3. Hayden - "Between Us To Hold"
I can't do an acoustic list without including Canada's great Hayden. A song written on an acoustic guitar about teaching your girlfriend to play an acoustic guitar. It's his gift in creating beautiful songs out of seemingly everyday and benign occurrences that makes Hayden one of my favourites.
4. Nick Drake - "Things Behind The Sun"
Except for the brief piano on the title track, Nick Drake's masterpiece Pink Moon was simply his voice and his guitar. It's solemn and dreary atmosphere was a direct reflection of his heightening depression he suffered during his last years. "Things Behind The Sun" is a stream of consciousness that seems to be describing what Drake had taken away from his brief interactions with the outside world in that dark time. Sadly Nick would never live to see his music reach fame as he would die in 1974 after overdosing on sleeping pills. 2 years after Pink Moon was released and almost 25 years before his songs would find a worldwide audience.
5. Dashboard Confessional - "The Best Deceptions"
Dashboard Confessional is Chris Carrabba, his 2001 album The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most is viewed as one of the first emo/acoustic albums. He made a living off of wearing his heart on his sleeve and belting out his pain from the mountain tops in every song. This poor guy. Just listen to some of the lyrics in this one...heart out the asshole I tell ya...heart out the asshole.
6. Eddie Vedder - "No More"
I don't know much about the history of this song. I first heard it when I watched Vedder's DVD Water On The Road where he performed most of his Into The Wild album and various other one offs at Warner Theatre in Washington DC. It's nice to hear a protest song from time to time.
7. Wyclef Jean - "President"
That last song made me think of other protest songs in recent history and how could I omit this gem? Like most people I first saw Wyclef perform this one on Chappelle's Show. It's an incredible and honest song hypothesizing about the first black president of the United States. It was later released on his fifth album Welcome To Haiti (Creole 101).
8. Tom Gabel - "Harsh Realm"
Sometimes you'll see the lead singer of a group branch off and release their own solo CD. Happens quite often actually and most times the album sounds like just another record of the band they're from. Tom Gabel, front man of Against Me! released Heart Burns in 2008 and it mostly flew under the radar. It only had 7 tracks on it, it cost about 8 bucks and it was outstanding. Each track was different from the last. Tom actually started Against Me as himself. A young punk from Gainesville with an acoustic guitar. I guess Heart Burns could be considered him getting back to his roots.
9. Cat Stevens - "Rubylove"
One of the most prolific and entertaining singer/songwriters of the early 70's was Cat Stevens (real name Steve Georgiou). The things he could do with a guitar and the imagery he could conjure with his word play was unparalleled. "Rubylove" is a lesser known track from his perfect album Teaser & The Firecat. My father had this record I can remember it's cover and it's sounds being played endlessly. Cat Steven's left the musical spotlight just as oddly as he entered. Converted to Islam and changed his name...again...but that's a list for another night
10. Joe Purdy - "I Love The Rain The Most"
Joe Purdy's album Julie Blue has quickly become one of my favourites...and definitely was a difficult one to track down a copy of. The whole album was written and recording in under a week in a house on a river in upstate NY. It's good to know there are artists who are brave enough to try something different. Whether it's successful or not I bet it's an experience and a feeling Purdy will never duplicate. I listen to this song when it rains...it gives me chills...good ones....
11. Joshua James - "Dangerous"
Here's another up and comer...though he's already got a few albums under his belt. "Dangerous" can play in my head all day and it's stillness and isolation almost make me rethink every action i've ever done or contemplate doing. It's a beautiful song in it's simplicity and honesty. I look forward to more from Mr. James.
12. Damien Rice - "Delicate"
Damien Rice is a man that must have experienced or been hit by love that few men have seen. His album O is art pure and simple. "Delicate" builds to it's passionate nadir effortlessly and really exemplifies not only the relationship in the song, but the relationship between Rice and his guitar. I was lucky to see Damien Rice on his farewell tour in 2007. An experience i will never forget.
Thanks for reading again!!
It's the ladies' turn next!