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The Best Americana of 2011

If you ask a critic or music fan to define Americana, be prepared for an avalanche of diverse responses of opinion. Still, there remain some constant benchmarks, such as pedal steel, fiddle, acoustic guitars -- and good songwriting.

Steve Leftridge and Jeff Strowe
Music

Hayes Carll: KMAG YOYO & other American Stories

Carll has a Texas sense of humor, by which I mean he often writes BIG songs to emphasize the outrageousness of human situations. When he sings of love, he means lust, between a man and a woman so mismatched that only sex and booze can make the relationship work.

Music

Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind

Carll’s voice sounds like he’s halfway laughing and halfway crying, but he’s always a sucker for a good joke. He knows there’s more depth in humor than pathos -- and it’s a lot more fun.

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