Music writers at the Boston Globe have named their top picks for the best albums of 2006l
have named their top picks for the best albums of 2006, and interesting and varied set of lists it is, from Irish folk to classical, from progressive country to rock of all flavors.

They’ve missed a few things, though, including three from artists who are right under their noses:

Hanneke Cassel’s third album, Silver, shows the Boston based fiddle player developing an even more distinct voice and touch than her her earlier works. She’s grounded in Scots and Cape Breton folk music, but a thoroughly American player too,. Flashes of humor, hints of grace, a truly engaging and lasting set of music — and it kicks off with a fiddle tune tribute to the Red Sox, called The Curse Reversed.

Somerville’s Matt and Shannon Heaton have backed up some of Boston’s best musicians and played in trios and other configurations. They still do that, but the husband and wife team have been building a name for themselves as a duo too, with original and traditional tunes of Celtic and American folk music origins. Blues Skies Above, their second release as a duo, is funny, uplifting, and suggests they are growing as writers and players. Shannon plays the flutes, Matt play guitar, and the both sing. Original tunes on this one include the Shady Spot, inspired by a misdirected load of dirt delivered to their Somerville home.

Then there’s Croooked Stilll, the Boston and Cambridge based quartet of voice, banjo, double bass and cello who have been shaking up the local and national folk music and roots music since their debut recording Hop High a couple of years back which was, incidentally, produced by Hanneke Cassel. Back for another go with Shaken By a Low Sound, they create new takes on music by Robert Johnson and Hank Williams, as well as selections from the American folk song bag. Rushad Eggleston’s cello and Corey DiMario’s double bass anchor Aoife O’Donovan’s graceful vocals and Greg Liszt driving and original banjo lines. Sounds as though they’re having lot of fun with it too.

Three fine records which deserve to be on anyone’s best of the year list, Boston or no. Boston’s fortunate that they all call Beantown home.

Hanneke Cassel
Matt and Shannon Heaton
Croooked Still

Kerry Dexter writes about music and creative practice at MusicRoadl

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