Monday, December 30, 2013

Albums I Enjoyed In 2013

Looking back at the music released in 2013, I've compiled a list of albums I loved this year. I am partial to instrumental/folk/Celtic music, so you're going to see a recurring theme in this list. There's still a ton of stuff released this year that I want to listen to but haven't had time or opportunity yet, so here's what I have had playing very frequently on my computer, in no particular order:

Hanneke Cassel - Dot The Dragon's Eyes

I first found out about this album from Hanneke Cassel's Indiegogo campaign, to which I contributed and got a CD as a reward. The record opens with the title track, a high-energy fiddle song that hooks you, and the energy continues right through the entire album. I got the album after Thanksgiving this year in Boston, and I am sure this record will be providing much of the soundtrack of my 2014.

Eleanor McEvoy - If You Leave

There's a lot of gentle relaxing sounds on this album, the 10th by Eleanor McEvoy, Irish legend. As someone who has moved around a lot in his life, the title track strikes a chord with me. Her rendition of Cindi Lauper's "True Colours" is probably my favourite version of the song I've heard. The upbeat, accordion-driven collaboration song "Secret of Living", with Sharon Shannon, Gemma Hayes, Mary Coughlan and Hermione Hennessy lightens up any gloomy day.

Gregory Alan Isakov - The Weatherman

This is the first album of Gregory Alan Isakov's that I've actually listened to, having discovered him only last year. Another record on this list that's beautiful and relaxing, it's great for unwinding in the evening, or listening to while walking along the seaside.

Laura Cortese - Into The Dark

I've called this album the "soundtrack of my year". I've been excited about this record ever since I heard Laura Cortese perform many of the songs here live, at Passim in Cambridge. Therefore this is yet another CD I supported via crowdfunding, and when I heard it I was blown away by the studio versions of those songs I was dying to hear again. The songwriting is superb, thoughtful and inspired. As usual for Laura Cortese, strings feature prominently on this record.

Aoife O'Donovan - Fossils

This is Aoife O'Donovan's first full-length solo album; previously she was the lead singer for Crooked Still. This is another recent discovery for me; the first track I listened to was a single from this record titled "Red & White & Blue & Gold", which intrigued me enough to check out the entire album. I enjoyed Crooked Still and I enjoy Aoife's solo outing too, which sounds familiar yet fresh.

Hugh Laurie - Didn't It Rain

Last I thought I'd mention here is Hugh Laurie's blues album "Didn't It Rain". It's a departure from my usual listening, and I have yet to listen to it in its entirety but I've always enjoyed his music from his Fry and Laurie sketches. Therefore, I thought I'd give it a try on Spotify, and it's quite interesting. I'm not sure if it makes an exceptional blues album, but a few tracks are growing on me and I think it warrants an iTunes purchase soon.

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