10. BOO HEWERDINE - OPEN
I remember my mate and I saying after the umpteenth brilliant 12” by The Bible that they never release a bad track. Their b-sides were always superb. So, twenty five years later Boo Hewerdine releases an album of songs he lost and found again, discarded and yet a quality collection of Hewerdine songwriting magic.
9. RICKIE LEE JONES - THE OTHER SIDE OF DESIRE
A return to songwriting form for Rickie Lee. I love that quirky voice and when she writes meandering yet literary songs like these I get excited!
8. DUKE SPECIAL - LOOK OUT MACHINES
Belfast’s finest co-writes with very talented mates and as usual crafts originality and introspection to keep all our souls’ attention.
7. SUFJAN STEVENS - CARRIE AND LOWELL
Objectively this is the best album of the year. Melancholic and cathartic in looking back at a fraught relationship with his alcoholic mother it brings Steven’s usual reflections on universal truth. Genius!
6. BILL FAY - WHO IS THE SENDER?
I love this man’s pastoral songs, full of work written literally as he brushed floors. Wide souled and calming in a world in turmoil.
5. MUMFORD & SONS - WILDER MIND
Change of outfits and instruments but still full of passion and soul. A more than acceptable reinvention.
4. THE WATERBOYS - MODERN BLUES
Mike Scott’s spiritual exploration of the Long Strange Golden Road goes on in the most rocking of forms. The words are clever and deftly rhymed.
3. MARK KNOPFLER - TRACKER
I discovered Knopfler again thirty years after I had left him alone. Quality songs more than tastefully done.
2. DREW HOLCOLM & THE NEIGHBOURS - MEDICINE
Just the most sumptuous songwriting. Music to the ears, content for the soul.
1. JOY WILLIAMS - VENUS
Right at the last moment ex Civil War girl Williams becomes a woman. She reveals the strength of womankind in the story of one particular woman. Musically imaginative and emotionally tender.
and also worth a mention in no particular order: -
BRANDON FLOWERS - THE DESIRED EFFECT
DAR WILLIAMS - EMERALD
RHIANNON GIDDENS - TOMORROW IS MY TURN
BOB DYLAN - SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT
SOAK - BEFORE WE FORGET HOW TO DREAM
ADMIRAL FALLOW - TINY REWARDS
THE DECEMBERISTS - WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD
JAMES BAY - CHAOS AND THE CALM
VAN MORRISON - DUETS; REWORKING THE CATALOGUE
GRETCHEN PETERS - BLACKBIRD
JAMES TAYLOR - BEFORE THIS WORLD
ASH - KABLAMMOO!
RICHIE FURAY - HAND IN HAND
LEONARD COHEN - CAN’T FORGET
POP STAPLES - DON’T LOSE THIS
PAUL BRADY - LIVE AT VICAR STREET VOL. 1