This has been an interesting year for music. It got off to a good start with Serafina Steer’s new album The Moths Are Real. She is a unique artist, originally accompanying herself on a bespoke electric harp. She has over the course of three albums broadened her sonic palette while retaining her idiosyncratic world view. There is nobody quite like Serafina.
February saw the release of Terry Allen’s The Bottom of The World. He is such a good songwriter, standout tracks for me where Emergency Human Blood Courier and Wake of the Red Witch. Every song on this album is excellent, this is quality writing indeed.
Liz Lawrence’s Bedroom Hero was a noteworthy debut (and not just because she performed a concert at my home on her February tour). The Oo Song is just lovely and the album repays repeated listenings. She continues to develop and her latest songs are lyrically very interesting. You can download a song for free here.
Why is this woman not famous? Emily Kramer continues to produce excellent music her latest offering Left/Right came in a beautiful handcrafted cover. I can only wonder why she is not more widely known. There is quality music here and a fine lyric sense. You can download this album for free at her website.
Alela Diane released a stark masterpiece About Farewell. It was written during the break up of her marriage and it has a haunting beauty. Alela is an amazing writer with one of the most amazing voices I have heard in a long time. Reviewers have contrasted its dignity and lack of rancour with Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. All I can say is that it is equally as memorable. This is probably my favourite album of the year.
Full English; Fay Hield’s stellar celebration of the British Folk Tradition is a joy. It also heralds the EFDSS database of songs and singers. This is a great achievement and gives anyone access to a huge wealth of folk songs and singers.
What can you say about Mavis Staple? Every release is a joy.
Valerie June’s album Pushin’ Against a Stone was a grower. I downloaded it from emusic on spec and I have to say it is excellent.
For me the reissue of the year was Amory Kane’s 1970 psychedelic classic Just To Be There. I had been searching for this on cd for many years having bought the original vinyl for 99p from a Woolworth’s sale in about 1972. It was well worth the wait. Dave Pegg’s bass playing is stupendous, and Ron Geeson adds much avant-garde percussion to two of the tracks, but it is Kane voice that carries the whole album. If you can find a copy of this then do so it’s worth it.