Jummy Dale Gilmore
If you like new country, then stay away from Hank Williams III lastest - he rips new country to shreds. I don't blame him!
Mary Gauthier's album is indeed addictive. I keep the cd in my car and the vinyl gets played about once a week. I often tell people that it is country/blues. She really is in a league of her own. You might also like Greg Brown's "Slant 6 Mind". With lines like, "A picture of a picture of whore holding a picture of a John", or " A two bourbon twilight falls from God's Cigar" only available on cd or "The Poets Game" which can be found on vinyl. Also, try some of Tom Russell's stuff.
Both Delevantes cds "Postcards From Along the Way" and "Round About That Time" may now be out of print, but are definitely worth seeking out.
In a more traditional vein, you might enjoy Alison Krauss & Union Station which features AK's great voice and Jerry Douglas great guitar and dobro. I'd start off with "Now That I've Found You" (greatest hits) or "So Long So Wrong" and note that the live album features more of Douglas' playing- if virtuoso guitar is more your thing.
Robert Earl Keen's "#2 live Diner" and "Picnic" are crossover rock/country with clever, often very funny lyrics.
The Reivers (all cds, especially "End of The Day") and Uncle Tupelo (all cds, especially No Depression) are even more towards the rock end of the spectrum, but both bands were really influential and worth hearing if you don't know them. Reivers are more harmony driven pop country, while Uncle Tupelo is a mash up of banjo and garage that mixes genres in a clever, expansive way. Uncle Tupelo also spawned Jay Ferrar (Son Volt), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and less directly Jay Bennet (especially Jay Bennet and Edward Burch "The Palace at 4 AM") and Brian Henneman (Bottle Rockets). All worth hearing in either a broad "new country" or "y'alternative" kind of way.
All great suggestions, esp Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams. You might also enjoy Johnny Cash's American Recordings (all great, much more accessible to rock & folk fans than his ealier work - which is also great), Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rosanne Cash, Casey Chambers, Tift Merrit, the Jayhawks, and let's not forget Willie Nelson, who has done an amazingly wide range of things over the years (I'm liking his latest, Songbird, produced by Ryan Adams).
I had similar feelings to yours about country for years until discovering that like most music, the commercial stuff tends toward crap but if you dig a little deeper you find some really moving music.
Get a copy of NO DEPRESSION magazine. Each issue is filled with music it sounds like your into. I use it all the time to make my purchases. It basically covers AMERICAN music, country, blugrass, blues, roots-rock, some jazz. The best resource there is for honest music.
Townes Van Zandt
Amazing Rythym Aces
Check out James McMurtry - St. Mary of the Woods; Live in Ought Three
Any Steve Earle - Top of my list - Jerasulem
Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, Fats Kaplin - Old John Dean
by the way, I heard Mary Gauthier and ordered her Mercy Now CD a few days ago. Haven't received it yet, but your post makes me very anxious! If you have access to XM Radio, check out the Cross Country station. It's #810 on my Direct TV.
You've gotten some very good recommendations! Get a hold of some or all, you won't be disappointed.
I will add a few along the same lines: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Wayne Hancock, and Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts.
The Wood Brothers "Ways Not To Lose" is one of the best CD's I've discovered in a long time. It's got great lyrics and spectacular musicianship, a wonderful mix of dobro and stand-up bass, that you'd probably classify as country if you had to pin it down but that defies easy categorization.
Some people call what your describing is "Alt Country".
You would probably like Emmylou Harris. Three to start out with would be:
"All The Road Running" New collaboration w Mark Knopfler. This is an outstanding new release... The proverbial trifecta w great writing, music and sonics.
"Roses in the Snow" This has an appalachian feel that's very melodic.
"Blue Kentucky Girl" A little more country.
You also might like Gram Parsons writing ... also some of Neil Young and early 70's Rolling Stones stuff is of this ilk.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Beth Nielsen Chapman ("Sand and Water" is magnificent)
Some very good reccomendations listed here. All are enjoyable country music. However, very, very few of the artists and albums listed are along the vein of Mary Gauthier. For one thing most of the suggestions are country western, not the same style as Mary Gauthier.
Mary's life experiences with alcohol, drugs, prison, and unconventional sexual orientation, make her the real deal in the "I got drunk, went to prison, my dog died, my wife left me, etc." style of music.
It is the difference between listening to someone like Light'n Hopkins sing and play the blues, as opposed to some musician that is technically proficient but, never lived the life.
I'm with you, Aer, Miss Gauthier is something special. Go to her website and see if she has a live show coming near you. She is even better in person.
Solomon Burke, Nashville
Richard Buckner, Devotion & Desire
Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez, Red Dog Tracks
Jesse Sykes, Oh My Girl
Hank III, Straight to Hell (it's pop country that H3 hates)
Check out Freakwater, especially 'Endtime' and 'Springtime'. Not sure why they are not better known. Maybe a little too edgy for most country fans.
My two all-time favorites are Lucinda Williams "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" and Gram Parsons "Complete reprise Recordings". Other favorites you might like are Rodney Crowell (try "The Houston Kid") and Buddy Miller ("Your Love and Other Lies").
Rodney Crowell-a songwriter's songwriter. -"Fates Right Hand" may be his best work.
Wooooh! such a huge reponse with so many artists to chase up. A great majority I have not heard of as down here in Australia country is not main stream, which will no doubt prevent me from seeing Mary Gauthier live as Agaffer recomends. We do have and love our own Casey Chambers, who is a great singer/song writer.
Once again, much appreciated, and as Tpy suggests, once you dig deeper past the commercial crap there is so much more.
Cheers and Christmas greetings and cheer to all at/on the 'Gon!!
Check out xpn.org.
This non-commercial radio station from Univ. of Pennsylvania specializes in music like you are looking for, and has had an impact on the careers of many artists. Their show, World Cafe is heard on NPR network, and many great artists mentioned above (including Kasey Chambers) have performed on the show. Cheers,