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Best songwriter: Blair Crimmins

Staff Pick

After abandoning the conventions of alternative rock for which he came to be known with the band Bishop Don, Blair Crimmins became so enamored with making old-timey music that he seemed like a novelty act. His forays into storytelling, ragtime, jazz, and antique songwriting didn't seem like much of a risk, but a sense of newfound personal enjoyment welled from within every barreling note on his 2010 solo debut, The Musical Stylings Of .... Soon, new aspects of his voice emerged with all the gusto of a songwriter with a capital "S," complete with earnest and cautionary tales of wine, women, song, and retribution. But Crimmins knows he's no cowboy or folk troubadour: He shunned many of the trappings that box in dedicated songwriters and embraced horns, high-energy theatrics, and other elements outside the traditional canon. Crimmins has never been more refined than on this year's Sing-A-Longs CD. If he caters to any genre, it's one that's entirely his own, and that's something a lot of guys with pens and guitars either don't know how to do, or don't have the guts to do.
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