Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It

A natural chanteuse who possesses just the right blend of sass and savvy, Aussie-born singer Ruby Boots (aka Rebecca Louise “Bex” Chilcott) was a seeker from early on. After leaving home at the age of 16, she took off for the outer reaches of Australia’s west coast, eventually landing a job on a pearl fishing trawler. It was there where she started dabbling in guitar, and eventually writing songs. After adopting a new name, she embarked on a career that’s brought her numerous awards and a fan following as well.

Chilcott, or Ms. Boots if you will, previously released three EPs and a full length debut she christened Solitude. However, her new album, the tellingly named Don’t Talk About It, handily elevates her standing. A set of songs that dwell on the wreckage left in the wake of romance, it pointedly addresses those prone to all sorts of sexual manipulation. Granted, that kind of abuse is nothing new, but in view of recent headlines, the focus Boots finds here seems especially apt.

Boots is aided in her efforts by the astute backing of the band Texas Gentlemen and support from a kindred spirit, Nikki Lane, who co-wrote the title track and provides the backing vocal. However, the focus remains wholly on Boots throughout, thanks to a saucy delivery that turns each song into a clear statement of purpose. “Don’t Talk About It” offers an especially strong example of her swagger and defiance. The determined “I’ll Make It Through,” has her declaring “I’m more than you can handle,” turning a song about survival into a hard won ode to independence.

To be sure, these songs never find Boots in retreat. If her attitude is any indication, she remains steadfast and undaunted. “Infatuation,” “It’s So Cruel” and “Easy Way Out” come across with drive and insistence, ample indication that she’s not about to back down. Happily, she’s willing to lure her lover by offering assurance as well. “I am a believer, standing strong by your side, I’m a hand to hold on to when its too hard to climb,” she declares on the spare “I Am A Woman.” Unlike the defiance Helen Reddy once railed about on her similarly-named song, this is one instance where Boots finds no need to roar.

Ironically, the relatively subdued song that ends the set, “Don’t Give a Damn,” is also the most emphatic. Boots rebukes an unfaithful lover while dishing out her disdain. As it climbs to its crescendo, it becomes increasingly clear that Don’t Talk About It makes certain statements that definitely need to be said.

TME.FM Radio’s Top Songs Of 2017.

Below is the playlist of our 20 favorite songs of 2017.

Yes I know there are 42 but without declaring war among ourselves we could not make the list any smaller.

We had to use dirty tricks,back stabbing,bribery,coercion and  payment of favors but the 7 of us finally agreed.

We apologize to all the artists who have not got a song on the list , it does not mean they were not good enough we could not make a decision.

This list in no way reflects the TOP ALBUMS OF THE YEAR list which is being compiled in a much more democratic way. No bribes will be accepted from artists or PR companies I can assure you.

Now press play and listen to the best of the best of the best songs played on TME.FM Radio in 2017.

Eli Fox – Tall Tales

Throughout musical history, those of a tender age have often shown a prolific prowess that outpaces their level of growth and maturity. The examples are evident — Michael Jackson, Sarah Jarosz, Stevie Wonder and Sara & Sean Watkins are among the more obvious examples of musicians who made their mark early on, at an age where many of us are just learning how to tie our shoelaces.
East Tennessee’s Eli Fox is the latest artist to show that remarkable proficiency; at age 18, he’s setting his sites on college and, equally importantly, boasting his full length musical debut, the ironically dubbed Tall Tales. The follow up to an initial EP that came out last year, it finds Fox taking his cue from traditional Americana…

…and, most strikingly, the wit and rapport of early Bob Dylan. That’s particularly true of a song like “Hillbilly” where he states his case and shares his rural roots. The easy amble of “Fine Toothed Comb,“ the aw-shucks sentiment of “Tell Me Why” and the rapid fire delivery that accompanies “What Can I Do” more than affirm his down home demeanor, a dry yet demonstrative sound underscored by his rural regimen and an unassuming singing style that sounds as if it just rolled out of the far hills of Appalachia. He shares an obvious admiration for Woody Guthrie, but his instrumental ability — he plays guitar, banjo, fiddle, piano and harmonica with equal ease — only enhances his reverence for the roots. Indeed, really has a rookie been so quick to establish his credence and creativity.

SUSTO – & I’m Fine Today

“I had a dream that we were doing hard drugs in a street alley” is a hell of a line to kick off a song, and seems emblematic of your typical rock and roll band. But SUSTO are far from the typical. The Charleston five-piece covers vast sonic ground on their new album & I’m Fine Today, swaying between country-tinged rock (“Cosmic Cowboy”), contemplative pop ballads (“Mountain Top”), and any number of other genres that exist somewhere within the expansive fabric of Southern music. But lead single “Hard Drugs” is perhaps most typical of their nakedly honest, narrative approach to songwriting, covering themes of heartbreak and loneliness with an added dose of creative flair.
& I’m Fine Today is our most earnest effort to create unique emotional soundscapes…

…while speaking candidly and openly about the realities of existence,” the band tells Consequence of Sound. “We are a group of people, touring musicians, who feel privileged to do what we do and we have given all of our energy to create an album that captures both the pain and beauty of being human.”

It can seem like a pretty hopeless world out there sometimes, but this is the kind of music that just hits in the right way on those long, dark nights of the soul. Hell, it might even make you laugh when you’re done moppin’ up those tears.

…The single “Hard Drugs” is a Gram Parsons flavored number that is as painfully self-conscious as it is tongue-in-cheek wry. A song about the negative side of drugs hasn’t been done this well since “Sister Morphine.” “I’m just glad that I found you, sorry that I couldn’t keep you around” is a beautifully bittersweet line.

“Far Out Feeling” features soulful strings and backing vocals that harken to Philadelphia circa 1974, like an outtake from Young Americans. “Gay in the South” eschews subtlety for a hard-hitting take on a world that still can’t readily accept differences. “Tell the truth unless you think you should lie,” is a rather straightforward, non-judgmental, albeit resigned piece of advice for those struggling with self-identity issues. Hard to believe in today’s atmosphere that my fellow Yanks could’ve been so naïve as to think that the battle for civil rights was over, but we’re nothing if not a nation content with simple answers to complex problems.

“Mystery Man” has a feel like the Golden Age of laid-back SoCal music that would flourish into the adult contemporary genre. That’s not meant as an insult. Despite the stereotyped image of cheesy, overproduced, oft-misogynistic love songs by acts like The Eagles or post-Peter-Green era Fleetwood Mac, there were also a lot of really good songs made under that nauseating umbrella term.

On the uptempo “Waves,” Osbornes sings about “smoking weed with God,” a line that points at both the spiritual and hippie vibe that runs throughout this navel-gazing effort. & I’m Fine Today is not only a wink-wink cynical line but also a spot-on summary of the mood of this album.

Twain – Rare Feeling

Rare Feeling marks the label debut of Twain, a project led by former the Low Anthem and Spirit Family Reunion multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson, who’s persevered with Twain as a passion project since the mid-2000s. Having a breakthrough year of sorts in 2017, he not only scored a record deal with Austin-based Keeled Scales, but found himself on tour with the likes of Big Thief, Langhorne Slim, and the Deslondes.
Combining a distinctively brittle, blues-imbued vocal delivery with sweet melodies and a poetically homespun way with words, Davidson is a singer who, enjoy him or not, makes a lasting impression. He’s joined on the album by bassist Ken Woodward and drummer Peter Pezzimenti, prior collaborators who are credited here as bandmates.

Also an expressive guitarist, Davidson opens the album with a delicate electric guitar lullaby to the lonely, “Solar Pilgrim.” Spare drums, bass, and strings join in later as Davidson imagines the day he’ll die: “But till then, I’m still healthy/Sitting in the morning sun/And no one around to sit down next to me.” Elsewhere, “Hank + Georgia” explores more unconventional harmonic progressions, while the quirky cowboy country of “Little Dog Mind” has a lusher arrangement, adding slide guitar, ornamental keys, group backing vocals, lively drums, country bass, and polyrhythms to the opening acoustic rhythm guitar. The song captures a one-sided conversation between Davidson’s own heart and mind (“You’re just like a little dog/Running away from me”).

Throughout, the album surprises with lyrics, performances, and musical developments without sacrificing its melodious throughline. Officially Twain’s sixth LP, it delivers on the promise of prior releases and with any luck will result in some reissues.

Grayson Capps – Scarlett Roses

Apart from 2013’s self-titled collective Willie Sugarcapps album, with Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes, and Sugarcane Jane, we haven’t heard new material from Grayson Capps since 2011. Of the illustrious bunch on that record, only Hughes remains, wrangling guitars and co-producing here with Trina Shoemaker and Capps. Recorded over two days in as many studios, these nine songs are chock-full of Capps’ poetic lyricism, and raw, rumbling grooves that meld Gulf Coast country, edgy garage rock (think Crazy Horse in their prime), folk, and blues.
The title track offers martial snares and interwoven electric guitars in a lament for love and the long-gone time that birthed it. “Hold Me Darlin”…

…is a jaunty, Piedmont-style blues rocker that’s also rooted in New Orleans R&B. Its tender lyric is road weary but celebratory. “Bag of Weed” is a rolling country rocker that actually makes room for Capps’ earthy lyrics. The medications listed in the refrain, pot, George Dickel, and a case of beer, aren’t for drowning sorrows, but for celebrating the survival of life’s trials. The strolling groove eventually ratchets up to explode in rockist glory. The syncopated blues-rock in “You Can’t Turn Around” is a manifesto of perseverance. Hughes burns in his lead break while Russ Broussard’s snare drum kicks up a ruckus. Topically, Capps shifts to gratitude for the stomping roots rock of “Thankful” with its snare breaks, wound-out guitars, and a stomping 2/4 roll affirmed by Shoemaker’s backing vocals. The tune takes everything in, good and band, day by day, and accepts it all as the spokes in the wheel of personal transformation. He builds on that with “New Again,” a lithe, languid, beautiful Americana ballad where Capps (and Dylan LeBlanc on backing vocals) shares hard-won worldly wisdom: “I take the gold from the sun/Hold it close when the day is done/Keep the fire inside me until the dawn…Remember Coco Robicheaux/He said I had a real young soul/Many lives to lead until the end/I’m getting old, my friends have died/I never got to say goodbye/They’re dead, they don’t miss you when they’re gone….” “Hit ‘Em Up Julie” is a ripping, slide guitar and harmonica blues stomp, while “Taos” is a droning, eight-minute psych-inflected rocker with screaming six strings. Closer “Moving On” is a proper bookend; it turns the record back on itself to reflect the title track but takes it further down the road emotionally and physically. It’s lucid, relaxed, and pointed, as the band builds a foundation under gorgeous layered vocal harmonies. Its lyrics reflect a time that, while eternally present, has been all but left behind.

The conflicts and dangers it depicts are global, archetypal, and personal, refracted in a psychic mirror as warning signs against complicity and ignorant contentment. Knowing how closely these are all tied together is, after all, wisdom, and makes for great songwriting. Scarlett Roses is the roots rock record we’ve been waiting for from Capps.

Chris Thile – Thanks for Listening

Released a little over a year after Chris Thile took over as host of the public radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion, Thanks for Listening collects ten Song of the Week features from his inaugural season. Each song was an original written for that week and premiered live on the show. Finding a common theme among personal, societal, and political topics in some of the songs — namely, the art of listening — Thile headed to the studio with producer Thomas Bartlett to record selections for a cohesive album. On these versions, the mandolin virtuoso covers stringed instruments except bass and viola, and sings lead, though he’s joined on some songs by guest vocalists Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, and Gaby Moreno, all Prairie alumnae under Thile.

One of the album’s flashier mandolin performances can be found on the spare “Balboa,” whose multicultural wanderlust receives intricate and nuanced accompaniment. By and large, though, Thanks for Listening puts a premium on songs over chops, not that there’s any lack of instrumental proficiency here. An atmospheric track like “Feedback Loop,” for instance, uses a slow tempo, keyboards, and echo along with acoustic instruments. After setting an intentionally lethargic tone, lyrics get at our ability to filter unwelcome opinions on social media and elsewhere (“Feedback Loop, I play you to soothe my closed eyes/Closed mind/Open wounds/Open hate for anyone out of the Feedback Loop”). Later, the poppier “Falsetto” grapples with the constant derision, real and imagined, from a post-election Donald Trump, including what he might have to say about an activist musician. Other songs address fatherhood, family gatherings, and friendship in the context of the time’s technology and politics.

Despite its more collaborative origins, Thanks for Listening plays like a singer/songwriter album from Thile, one with moments of humor, poignancy, dread, and playfulness. Particularly “for anyone trying to hear through the din of a boorish year,” it captures the Zeitgeist of the first half of 2017 with a very human touch.

Travis Meadows – First Cigarette

If there is one overriding theme to the intense backstory of Travis Meadows’ life, it’s perseverance. Life has thrown a bag of lemons at Meadows and while the results haven’t necessarily been of the lemonade variety, he’s still here to tell the tale. He has endured an unsettling litany of circumstances including cancer (at 14), addictions, family deaths and more that would have hobbled others, to become one of the most respected songwriters, often for others, in Nashville, no small feat.
His own limited catalog of two previous albums and an EP has detailed many of his travails in hopes of personal closure, particularly 2010’s lauded yet dark Killin’ Uncle Buzzy. While this third release is somewhat less personal in its overall tone (see closing rocker “Long Live Cool”), no one…will mistake it for a party platter.

“Relock doors I wish I never opened/unlearn the things I wish I never knew,” Meadows sings in his weathered, torn but affecting voice on the opening “Sideways,” providing a concise summary of his life so far. There’s a substantial Springsteen influence, both in Meadows’ raw singing and lyrical approach. It’s something he celebrates in “Pray for Jungleland,” a “Night Moves”-styled coming of age tale that uses the Springsteen tune as its backdrop. Meadows’ incisive voice also mirrors the Boss on “Travelin’ Bone,” which, although the concept of having to keep moving in life and music isn’t exactly fresh, is presented with honesty and clarity.

Much of First Cigarette is introspective, but Meadows goes for the sing-along jugular on the anthemic “Underdogs,” a song suited to be chanted by crowds at arenas because of its “I Won’t Back Down” subject matter (“we may fall behind but we rise and shine like broken stars…lovers of what others hate..we bend, we bruise but we never break”), thumping “We Will Rock You” ready beat and a “na-na-na-nah” chorus just waiting for lighters to be raised in unison.

Generally though, Meadows ruminates on life by giving advice to youngsters in the insightful, slow rocking “Pontiac” (“Hold on to the innocence/through the almost and the could have beens”), the reflective take-challenges-as-they-come “Better Boat” (“I breath in, I breathe out”) and ultimately rejoicing in where he is now on the uplifting “Guy Like Me.”

The sonic landscape is appropriately stark; the songs are bolstered by generally skeletal backing including drums and electric guitars. Most interesting is how each track flows into the next, an idea from producer Jeremy Spillman, which encourages the album to be absorbed from top to bottom, in one setting. Meadows also played and sang simultaneously, instead of overdubbing. That enhances the raw emotion in his lyrics, making them connect with unusual potency through first and second takes on tunes that reverberate with emotion, positivity and, perhaps above all, perseverance.

Grant Maloy Smith – Dust Bowl; American Stories

Drought, poverty and dirt defined America’s southern plains in the 1930s. Folks who depended on the land for survival were devastated by monstrous clouds of dust that swept across the region between 1932 and 1940, killing crops and livestock. Already reeling from the worst economic disaster of the early 20th century, residents, primarily of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, found themselves facing an environmental disaster of epic proportions.

Roots singer/songwriter Grant Maloy Smith reflects on their experiences with his new album “Dust Bowl – American Stories” (Suburban Cowboy Records). With 13 tracks, the album tells personal stories about enduring love, lost love, leaving home and, in some cases, staying home and fighting to survive. Some ballads are sadly beautiful, while others are as gritty as the Dust Bowl itself, and others uplifting.

“There were many factors that led to the Dust Bowl, but a seemingly-endless drought combined with over-farming and poor land management stressed the earth and contributed to one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th century,” Smith said. “Those same topics resonate today. My album is a cautionary tale, but it’s also about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great adversity.”

The signature song, “Old Black Roller,” derives its title from the nickname given to sky-high walls of choking dust. Like an approaching storm, the song begins slowly and builds to a crescendo. A more rocking version returns at the end of the album, as if to warn the listener that Mother Nature isn’t finished yet.

The first single from Smith’s album being released to radio, “I Come From America,” celebrates the diversity and strength of farm families forced to flee their homes, many of them relocating to California. (“We’re the desperate and unwanted, We’re the strangers from the shanty side of town, Do my eyes look proud but haunted? That’s the destiny in me, That’s the Texas that you see.”)

May Erlewine – Mother Lion

“Her songs show a very real connection and concern with everyday folk.” Lifted from the first paragraph of May Erlewine’s Facebook biography, this is the singular, wholesome truth that sits at the center of the Michigan artist’s entire portfolio. Her music has a heart that connects with others’ hearts. It’s one that has been continuously conscious of the human condition and how it reacts to the ebb and flow of our everchanging world. She’s given a voice to everyday folk in artistically recognizing her place on our planet Earth as one, and we are all elevated together for it.

Her name might be recognized internationally, but any Michigander will tell you that she’s at the top rung of artists that they pride themselves in calling one of their home-state girls. Her latest record, Mother Lion, is reflective in this in the staff she’s brought on to help bring it to life. Members of Ann Arbor outlet Vulfpeck comprise her band (drummer Theo Katzman, bassist Joe Dart, and pianist Woody Goss) while acclaimed producer Tyler Duncan (Michelle Chamuel, Ella Riot) helps bring it all together.

The ending, everlasting result is a refreshingly vibrant addition to Erlewine’s discography. She’s always had an innate knack for speaking to the masses in any way they see fit to process it. Yet, as her relatable voice melds with crisp, modern, and eclectic production, we’ve come to a place where we realize that the artist is still coming up with ways to surprise us while touching our hearts even 10 solo albums in. Utterly empathetic and chockful of heart-tugging imagery, Mother Lion is an empowering hand to guide you headfirst in a bold new direction as much as it is a warm embrace to cry into and be told everything is going to be okay whenever the world gets you down.