This was a very lovely year for music. Rather than having one “yes this is absolutely THE album of the year” it just had many, many, many, many that were in the convo. I did a favourites list on this blog half way through the year so I’ve just cut and pasted and tacked those on the end of the new additions (and the ones I forgot). For a trip down memory lane, here is last year’s list
These are in no particular order although the ones at the end cut and pasted over from the previous post are alphabetical. You should BUY THEM ALL in case you miss out on the best one is what I’m saying.
Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone
Prospect Hill – Dom Flemons This song is not really representative of the rest of the album which is more old timey than singer-songwriter but it’s a purdy one and a great video about the touring life.
Leo Welch – Sabougla Voices
Hanggai – Baifang Saw them for the second time at the Basement this year, they fucking ROCK. Probably you can’t tell from this video but live they are like the Clash or very young Rolling Stones. ROCK.
John Hiatt – Terms of My Surrender His best since Crossing Muddy Waters.
Native North America – Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985 Another incredible crate digging compilation from Light in the Attic records.
Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens – Cold World
We Go Home – Adam Cohen
Robert Plant – Lullaby …. and the Ceaseless Roar
Mary Gauthier – Trouble and Love
Robyn Hitchcock – The Man Upstairs
Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted – Lisa LeBlanc Lisa LeBlanc is an Acadien francophone singer from New Brunswick. I really like her first (French language) self-titled album, the big song from which is a truly cathartic anthem called “Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde” (“Today my life is in the shit”) This EP is something of a departure then, being in English inspired by a road trip through the US south.
Emma Swift – Emma Swift !!!ARIA AWARD NOMINEE!!! ‘Grats, Emma.
Blackbird – Dan Sultan
Bruce Springsteen, sort of High Hopes
Bruce Springsteen …. Bruce had High Hopes out this year. It was fine but not to be honest that great BUT it re-recorded “41 Shots (American Skin)” (41 shots was the number the NYPD put into Amadou Diallo for really no reason at all … ) which is about as relevant right now as any song by a white multi-millionaire rocker can be. Which, honestly, may be NOT RELEVANT at all. Anyway. He did this song on tour in Europe when the Zimmerman verdict came down. Tragically and furiously-making it is more relevant than ever. #blacklivesmatter
41 shots, Lena gets her son ready for school
She says, “On these streets, Charles
You’ve got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you, promise me you’ll always be polite
And that you’ll never ever run away
Promise Mama you’ll keep your hands in sight”
Is it a gun (is it a gun), is it a knife (is it a knife)
Is it a wallet (is it a wallet), this is your life (this is your life)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
Here’s a acoustic version:
Angaleena Presley – American Middle-Class It’s one of personal views that a lot of America’s socio-economic problems can be put down to the pathological obsession about calling everyone “middle class.” Case in point the dirt poor miners in Angeleena Presley’s semi-autobiographical title song and album. Comrades, you’re working class. Arise ye workers from your slumbers!! Anyhoo, it’s a good record.
Face to Face – Steve Riley and Doug Kershaw One for the Cajun fans here for sure. More great stuff from Valcour, I buy everything that label puts out without needing to listen to it.
21st Century Molam – The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band Thai psychedelia
Kristi Guillory and Anya Burgess – Eponymous
Janiva Magness – Original Really great album of smooth but affecting blues. Seems like quite a breakthrough album for her and she deserves it. Her people NEED to get this album in the hands of Shonda Rhimes, I can hear all of them over a montage of Olivia Pope staring meaningfully into those long-stemmed wine glasses of hers.
Emma Donovan and the Putbacks Another great Aussie record. They’re at the Newtown Social Club in Dec, get down there Sydney.
Cedric Watson – Le Troubadour Creole This actually came out late 2013 but I didn’t get it til this year. Every year end list is allowed one of these discretionary ring ins. Love Cedric.
Yvette Landry – Me & T-Coe’s Country
Bonnie Montgomery – Bonnie Montgomery Guys, this song is not on the record but it’s … it is Bonnie Montgomery and … Beth Ditto! SINGING KITTY WELLS. I mean HELLO.
Nikki Lane – All or Nothin
Baptiste W. Hamon – Quitter l’enfance and Alma Forrer – Lex Jeux Des Autres I was browsing the French music/culture mag Les Inrocks when I saw a reference to Alma Forrer as the “elève spirituelle (spiritual student) de Joan Baez” which naturally made me stop and investigate further. This lead me to buying her EP and that of frequent collaborator Baptiste W. Hamon. Back then (August) they weren’t available digitally, you actually had to email them (en Français, no less) and have them mailed in physical form, which I did. Now at least you can buy Alma’s on Bandcamp but let le record reflect, I did it the hard way. Baptiste also has a crowdfunding thing – on a site with the extremely French name of KissKissBankBank – for an EP of WWI related songs which I’ve backed because I like his EP so much. A French song about Townes Van Zandt … well, that’s two of my biggest interests right there so why wouldn’t I love it … allow me to repeat A SONG IN FRENCH ABOUT TOWNES VAN ZANDT.
The Paris Sessions – The Tourè Raichel Collective
The Dirty Truth – Joanne Shaw Taylor Saw her live this year at The Basement which blew me away, album can never quite capture that but still …
Dark Nights – Avishaï Cohen Feels like he puts out a record every six weeks with his various projects but I don’t complain because I like them all. I’m a “I don’t know much about jazz but I l know what I like” stereotype so I rely on Dave Sumner for my jazz recs throughout the year.
One of Dave’s most recent recs (on the eMusic-affiliated Wondering Sounds) is Jimmy Greene’s “Beautiful Life”, I only just bought it today and had a quick listen so ordinarily it wouldn’t get here but I thought it worth a mention. Greene’s daughter was murdered at Sandy Hook and naturally it is all about that. “I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived.” he says in the promo material. Worth a listen.
Chris Smither – Still on the Levee and Link of Chain: Songwriter’s Tribute to Chris Smither There was a big fete du Chris Smither over at the great Signature Sounds this year as it is his 50th year in the biz. I do love Chris Smither. I do not think any covers improve on the original (with perhaps the partial exception of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love You Like a Man”) but they are done by such quality Artists (Dave Alvin, Mary Gauthier etc) and with such love you should still check out the tribute album. Still on the Levee is a retrospective of re-recorded/duets versions of his songs. Basically however none or few of my favourite Chris songs are included, I guess I’m just that out of step. This version of “Link of Chain” is good though, as is the one with Loudon Wainwright III.
While No One was Looking Bloodshot Records 20th Anniversary – Various Bloodshot, with Valcour as previously mentioned, is a label I just buy whatever they put out because the quality never wavers. Congrats on 20 years! A really good album where Bloodshot artists cover the songs of over Bloodshot artists.
Blitzen Trapper covering Ryan Adams:
Dead Man’s Town – Various This is covers of the Bruce album Born in the USA which honestly is a bit hit and miss as these things always are. But the hits are great. Hope it turns on lots of people who might have had a stereotypical idea of what this album would be like, overlooking the stellar songwriting. This is Joe Pug “Downbound Train.” PS Joe Pug, I love you please release another album soon.
Benjamin Booker – self-titled
Zoe Muth – World of Strangers
Howlin’ Brothers – Trouble
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers I chose this video of all of them because he’s wearing a Cubs cap. GO CUBS GO.
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn – Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Whitey Morgan and the 78s – Born, Raised and Live from Flint. This only came out last week and there’s nothing specific for it on the ‘tubes but this is Whitey Morgan and the 78s live so close enough.
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Acey Monaro – EP
Reel of Joy – Andy Baylor
Babineaux Sisters – Quoi Ca Dit
Reissue: Bobby Charles – Bobby Charles
Light the Stars – Bonsoir, Catin
Reissue – Dylan’s Gospel – Brothers & Sisters
Tightrope – Chatham Country Line
Common Ground: The Songs of Big Bill Broonzy – Dave and Phil Alvin
Baby, You Just Want to Give Up – Green Mohair Suits
Small Town Heroes – Hurray for the Riff Raff
Refuse to Lose – Jarekus Singleton
Invisible Hour – Joe Henry
L’interview (Hommage à Brel, Brassens et Ferré) – L’âme des poètes
Reissue – Lavender Country – Lavender Country
This is a pretty wild collection of 70s gay liberation country songs. Yup. Read about it here.
Reissue – Musi-O-Tunya – Give Love To Your Children
Reissue – Muyei Power – Sierra Leone in the 1970s
The Painted Ladies – The Painted Ladies Play Selections from The Loner
The River and the Thread – Rosanne Cash
Nothin’ But Blood – Scott H Biram
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music- Sturgill Simpson
Reissue – The Sound Of Siam, Vol. 2 (Molam & Luk Thung Isan From North-East Thailand – Various
Can’t find any Vol 2 vids but this is Vol 1 .,…
FOLK SINGER VOL. 1 – Wille Watson