A strange year for me-having turned 60 and full of the contemplation aging brings. The best 'new' music I listened to this past year also contemplates aging, history, and individual pasts. All have consistently stayed on my active play list. I do not have a hard and fast ranking for any given record other than the one Mr. Isbell gave us. It is my favorite from last year. With that-here are the records that have stayed with me from 2015:
1 "Something More Than Free" by Jason Isbell. Like two years ago, Mr. Isbell, provided my favorite album in 2015- evocative short stories of pain, coming to grips with diminished expectations and learning to like one's self. And, oh that voice. The most intelligent, literate and musical songwriter at work today.
2 "Mono" by The Mavericks. A real band of solid, accomplished musicians who just like to play and make their listeners move. The best 'roots' band out there for my money.
3 "The Traveling Kind" by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. A second gorgeous collection of duets and a wonderful record of a friendship.
4 "Nashville Obsolete" by Dave Rawlings Machine. An accomplished and painful push back against the slick Nashville sound machine.
5 "Kintsugi" by Death Cab for Cutie. Introspective, but never maudlin, songs made from a personal crisis. Pain never sounded more lush.
6 "Lost Time" by Dave and Phil Alvin. Two brothers reconnect through the past and a true love for the blues. They were also the best live show I saw in 2015.
7 "Gates of Gold" by Los Lobos. 24 albums in and this one sounded as fresh, inventive and invigorating as "Will The Wolf Survive" from almost 40 years ago.
8 "Shadows in the Night" by Bob Dylan. This one should not have worked. Instead it is stunning in its languidly gliding sound full of pedal steel, double bass and muted horns and a cracked, aged voice lost in time and memories.
This is for all non-EC or peripheral-EC topics. We all know how much we love talking about 'The Man' but sometimes we have other interests.
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