Brooklyn singer/songwriter Rebecca Pronsky shuffles through the dark territory where old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, country, and folk come together. It's roughly the same territory where Neko Case and Kelly Hogan operate, and any accusations of carpetbagging are shot down by both the conviction of her songs and the strength of her voice.
Carney (Shelter, 1972)
Leon digs in and pulls out soul and country at once and writes some of the best songs around. The guy is a master storyteller, full of theatrical artistry. I've been re-listening to him a lot lately, settling back into the grooves—literally, on the record player, where this album is meant to be heard.
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury/Polygram, 1998)
This was the only record my college roommate and I could both agree on playing in our dorm room. She loved girl-punk, I loved Joni Mitchell. Somehow we settled on Lucinda Williams and this album played in our dorm room every day. Now, nearly a decade later, I've been listening to it again and marveling at the sound—the slapping, whirring, and grit behind all the songs is just delicious. Makes you feel like you're getting away with something naughty.
Small Planes (What Are Records?, 2001)
Gosh, I love this band. They have a totally unique sound, and it's very soothing. Their records feel like coming home or looking at old photographs. Guitarist Don Peris also has the smoothest, warmest tone around.
Regrooving the Dream (Vanguard, 2000)
I got to open for Patty a few months ago and she is an incredible solo performer. I've always been a fan of her records, so it was a real treat to share the stage with her. I love the way she pushes the boundaries of "folk" by using drum machines, bowing her guitar, and veering from traditional song form.