I decided to abandon the "10 best" format, because I've discovered a ton of great 'new' 2006 records that deserved to be mentioned lately and can't limit myself to 10. That being said...
Artist: Chris Thile
Album: How to Grow a Woman From the Ground
Record label: Sugarhill
Release date: September 12, 2006
Nickel Creek went on indefinate hiatus status in 2006 and that gave mandolin ninja Chris Thile a chance to spread his wings and diversify his impressive resume even more. Let's be honest, Thile is the only reason Nickel Creek is even on the map and his songs totally smoke those of his bandmates. I don't mean to be harsh to the twins, but sometimes you just have to tell it like it is. In many ways, they probably hold him back. With the massive departure Nickel Creek took on Why Should the Fire Die?, it's not surprising to see Thile come out with a roaring solo record.
How to Grow a Woman From the Ground, while stellar, is actually a bit more straightforward than his previous solo record Deceiver which found him tinkering with electric instruments, piano, various electronics, etc. That being said, Thile does straightforward acoustic very well and How to Grow a Woman... delivers the goods.
In addition to traditional sounding material like "Brakeman's Blues," "Watch at Breakdown," and "If the Sea Was Whiskey," we see him covering the White Stripes ("Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground") as well as continuing to write some of the most brutal, bitter messed up relationship songs ever. "Stay Away" is somber venom with its chorus of "You are the devil, stay away from me."
In my mind, Thile is one of, if not the most exciting thing going in modern acoustic music in this country and truthfully, I think we might be better off if he continues on the solo path.