When Justice Potter Stewart said “I know it when I see it,” he was talking about pornography. When it comes to great music, I sometimes feel like saying, “I know it when I hear it.”
There were some awesome albums released in 2013. I won’t attempt to pick the 12 best, but I’ll offer a Baker’s Dozen of albums I liked a lot and throw in a killer track for each. Alphabetical by artist:
1. Edie Brickell & Steve Martin – Love Has Come for You. Quite a pairing. Quite an album. (Give the banjo a chance!) Love “King of Boys.”
2. Dawes – Stories Don’t End. Intentionally or not, these guys continue to resurrect the best of that early-70s Laurel Canyon sound. “Just Beneath the Surface” is a cool song.
3. India.Arie – SongVersation. I’ve heard/read her name for years, but never checked her out. My loss. Give “Flowers” a listen.
4. Valerie June – Pushin’ Against a Stone. Maybe the most eclectic album in the bunch. She defies category. “Tennessee Time” is hauntingly infectious.
5. The Mavericks – In Time. “In Another’s Arms” sounds like Roy Orbison risen from the grave. What a beautiful song!
6. John Mayer – Paradise Valley. Love him or hate him, he is a very talented guy. I often catch myself humming/whistling “Badge & Gun.”
7. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady. Don’t know if there’s a genre called “Power Pop/Soul” but that’s what comes to mind. “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” (featuring Esperanza Spalding) hits the mark.
8. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park. Best album title of 2013. “Dandelion” is a good song. (Not a cover of the Stones song)
9. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium. Hmm… Maybe: The Cure meets up with The Wallflowers and mixes sensibilities? “Down Down the Deep River” grabbed me the first time I heard it.
10. Pistol Annies – Annie Up. I can never get Laura to listen to new stuff, but the first time she heard “Being Pretty Ain’t Pretty,” she exclaimed, “We need to put that in the next Hyde performing arts production!”
12. Boz Scaggs – Memphis. This might get my album of the year. “Sunny Gone” might get my song of the year.
13. Mavis Staples – One True Vine. I’d listen to this girl sing the phone book. Thanks to “Can You Get to That?” I don’t need to.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld