(Please note that these are my favourite records of the year. This is a very subjective list but I am hoping that Soul Surmise readers will know that quality is always high on my list of subjective qualities. Ask me what the best 5 records of the year were and they might be close to this if not in the exact order!)
20. SAM PHILLIPS – PUSH ANY BUTTON
I had relegated Ms Phillips to the law of diminishing returns bin but I was glad that I fell upon her 2013 release. With her gentle Tom Waitsian percussion and eccentricity this as accessible as she has been in a while.
19. PATTI GRIFFIN – AMERICAN KID
Griffin is a quality act and her alliance artistically and it would seem romantically with Robert Plant hasn’t done her profile any harm. This sounded great on Later... With Jools. A wonderful pastoral album of catharsis
18. ARCADE FIRE – REFLEKTOR
I am an Arcade Fire admirer more than a fan and this does sounds like Scissor Sisters that I hate but somehow I enjoyed it.
17. MARTYN JOSEPH – TIRES RUSHING BY IN THE RAIN
The Cardiff Devil has been covering Bruce Springsteen for years. I shared a Greenbelt seminar with Martyn and Paul Chambers on Bruce back in the day and have versions of Thunder Road and Ghost of Tom Joad that Martyn did live on my radio show. The stripped back perspective threw new light on some of these.
16. ERIC BIBB – JERICHO ROAD
I made a bad decision not to go see Bibb in the Queens Festival for a scandalously cheap £14. My good friend and Zumba guru Lorna McIlwaine kindly got me a signed copy of this. Spiritual, soulful, thinking person’s blues.
15. JOSEPH ARTHUR – BALLAD OF THE BOOGIE CHRIST ACT 1
I love this man. More lyrical seeking and spiritual surmising that heads off in Arthur’s imaginative head.
14. RICKY ROSS – TROUBLE CAME LOOKING
Ricky Ross’s look at life in the recession is a different beast than Deacon Blue’s brilliant Hipsters from last year. Sparse and socially direct.
13. MAVIS STAPLES – ONE TRUE VINE
I am loving Mavis Staples musical relationship with Jeff Tweedy. Gospel music contemporised with Americana. A Low song about the Holy Ghost for goodness sake! A Tweedy original called Jesus Wept. And enough old Gospel to have you rehearsed for the heavenly dance!
12. SAM HILL JR – COWBOYS AND MOONBEAMS
My good friend and sometimes co-writer Sam Hill finally gave the public some of his genius this year. What a treat. Late night early morning musings on family and faith. Deeply personal... socially vital! A beaut!
11. VAMPIRE WEEKEND – VAMPIRES OF THE MODERN CITY
These boys give that African township rhythm to the beat of the big city issues. There’s a lot of God haunting on this one.