10.DAWES - ALL YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS
They say that if Jackson Browne was thirty five years younger he would be the lead singer of Dawes. These Californian brothers have collaborated with the Killers and Mumford & Sons and chief writing brother Taylor was part of The New Basement Tapes in last year’s Stocki Top 10! This was the Dawes record that finally moved from, “yes it is fine” to “now I know what you’re talking about. Tasty guitar licks, clever poetics and some cool contemporary social observation.
9. BILL FAY - WHO IS THE SENDER?
Not quite as brilliant as his previous outing that was my album of the year in 2012 yet still filled with meditation on the spiritual while brushing floors. There is spiritual solace in the midst of war madness. There is balm for every soul’s scar.
8. YVONNE LYON - HELD
As a pastor I have always sensed the power of songs to help the bereaved through the grieving process. Yvonne Lyon took the idea further and gave ten people dealing with loss the opportunity to exercise their grief in creating these songs with her. It’s a unique set up that became part of her Masters in Music and was sold for charity. It brings the very best out in Lyon. Graeme Duffin has produced it with an intrigue and experimentation that takes Lyon's classic songwriting style into another sphere.
7. THE WATERBOYS - MODERN BLUES
Mike Scott in top guitar swagger, much more Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street than The Dubliners Drinkin’ And Courtin’ this time around. Long Strange Golden Road could have made this top 10 in its own ten minutes of rock strut but Beautiful Now and November Tale are two other stand outs that should make any Waterboys' live set for years to come.
6. GUY GARVEY - COURTING THE SQUALL
I like Elbow but at times they are too careful in their over indulgence. I prefer a wee bit of looseness of space to set things free. As if listening to me frontman Guy Garvey releases this solo record with all the space and spontaneity that I was looking for. Yes, if you like Elbow you will find the familiar but there is so much more going on. As always the lyrics are clever with strange images and great couplets. There are lots of spiritual references too. Maybe best of all is a collaboration with Jolie Holland, Electricity, that has so much space we find ourselves in torchlight jazz.
5. DREW HOLCOMB AND THE NEIGHBOURS - MEDICINE
These guys came outta Nashville right at me early this year. Like a Nashvillian Brian Houston all passion and hooks and soul soaked songs.
4. JOSH RITTER - SERMON ON THE ROCKS
I had lost Josh Ritter for a record or two but this one is an intoxicating mix of literacy and shifting rhythms and grooves. Trina Shoemaker’s production keeps it constantly fresh, always throwing musical shades and shifts. Lyrically Ritter is right on it with subtle humour and wry commentary on mid west America. Henrietta, Indiana and Ready To Get Down particularly tickled my laughter and spirituality.
3. JASON ISBELL - SOMETHING MORE THAN FREE
This man won Record of the Year in 2013 and this one is nearly as good. Song of the working man trying to get by and sorting out in song the priorities of a life. Every chorus catchy… every word memorable…
2. JOY WILLIAMS - VENUS
This is way to popped up for my usual tastes but it was just so saturated in heart and soul that I got totally hooked in its honesty and vulnerability. The back story of a band breaking up just as you have it made, a marriage in turmoil, a father’s death and a new born son… make that into song… and boy she did!
- GLEN HANSARD - DIDN’T HE RAMBLE
I have loved this man’s work for 25 years and just when you think he cannot get better he gets better by a quantum leap. These songs are just instantly classic. Channeling Dylan, Morrison, Springsteen and Cohen through his buskers DNA. Her Mercy, McCormick’s Wall, Grace Beneath The Pines, Winning Streak… and I haven’t even got to Lonely Deserter. Surely, he can’t get any better than this? Don’t be surprised!