5. Holly Williams – The Highway
Holly Williams is not new in this game, she has released two (good) albums before, but there haven’t been enough people paying attention. The guest list on new album is impressive and includes Jackson Browne and Jakob Dylan. The record is co-produced by Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars) and Williams, and it sounds amazing.
“I think every artist has their coming of age record. This one definitely feels like mine in that there was such a shift with me through the process of this record. It was completed in exactly nine months to the day, feeling somewhat like a birth. These songs really brought a focus into my life personally. Since the last record, I turned 30, my grandparents are gone, I’m married now, I’m keeping doggies and gardens alive, I have a clothing store, I have a husband on tour with a huge rock band, so there’s a lot to keep up with. But the highway came calling and I suddenly had this serious longing for the road, the fans, the storytelling, and the life in that living. I’m ready to get back to those wheels and play these songs for everyone.”
– Holly Williams
Hallgeir: Railroads, The Highway, Drinkin’
Egil: Railroads, Happy, Without You, The Highway
The Highway (official video):
4. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a hor-
Kacey Musgrave is different. She writes biting humorous lyrics and delivers them with a wonderful pop sensibility. She tells her female listeners to kiss lots of boys, or if they are so inclined, to kiss lots of girls, and if life gets too straight to go ahead and smoke a joint. This is not the way the popular segment of country music normally does it!
In Merry Go ‘Round she writes: “Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay. Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane. Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down.” This is smart and funny lyrics, she plays with the listener and is clearly having a good time. But…don’t get fooled, it is also a serious record that describes the repetition and mundane life and how to cope with it. In the world described on the album, people do what they can to escape from their trivial existence. Musgraves coates this seriousness in sweet melodies and she plays games with country music conventions. She is much more clever than she lets on.
Hallgeir: Follow Your Arrow, Merry Go ‘Round, Silver Lining, I Miss You
Egil: Silver Lining, Follow Your Arrow, Merry Go ‘Round, I Miss You
Follow Your Arrow (official video):
3. Austin Lucas – Stay Reckless
So I said what’s with all this talk of the savior?
I know he’s yours but he sure ain’t mine
She said you ain’t gotta be a believer to hold a place in his grand design
Well she looked so cute
wrapped up in her faith
So I kissed her where she stood
I was filled up with bad intentions
Oh but Lord those intentions felt good
Austin Lucas’s fifth album is also his best, it hit me very hard this summer. It speaks to me about my life, sometimes concrete and sometimes on a more abstract level. When that became clear to me I understood that this was one of those few albums that would be important to me, the record will stay with me and influence the way I perceive the world.
Can you really ask more of a piece of art?
It is by far, the album I’ve listen most to in 2013 and I will keep listening to it. It’s not on many year-end lists, but it should have been on all of them.
Hallgeir: Rings, Splinters, Alone In Memphis, Gift And A Gamble
Egil: Alone In Memphis, Rings, Splinters
Alone in Memphis (New West Sessions):
2. Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
Oh, let me love you
It’s all that I can do
Not to touch you
Oh, I’m in love with you
Hearin’ my piano
You’re never too far
Hey, you make my heart beat faster
I just cannot believe
You come back again
I need to look into your eyes
Jonathan Wilson’s second full length album is an even more demanding affair than his debut, but this time I have really listened and what a revelation of a record this is! The music breezes and flows along and it is impossible to grasp the greatness on the first hear-throughs. The production is so open and it does not sound like a record made in 2013 but like it was produced in 1973. This is a compliment.
It is like late 60s Beatles mixed with early 70s Pink Floyd, with a drop of hippie harmonies and lyrics thrown in, it is a groovy kind of stew!
Hallgeir: Lovestrong, Dear Friend, Cecil Taylor, Future Vision
Egil: Lovestrong, Dear Friend, Cecil Taylor
Dear Friend (official video):
1. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
Sharecropper eyes, and the hair almost all gone
When she was drunk, she made cancer jokes.
She made up her own doctor’s notes
Surrounded by her family, I saw that she was dying alone.
There’s one thing that’s real clear to me: No one dies with dignity
We just try to ignore the elephant somehow, somehow
This is a classic album, everything is right, Jason Isbell have always written good melodies and more than often he writes great lyrics. On this album he does it all. This is a constantly good record, the melodies are perfect and the lyrics are touching, personal and intricate without being too cryptic. The stories on the album speaks to me, they tell me about a songwriter that has found his true calling, and he is writing stuff of a very high standard. If you listen to Elephant and don’t get moved, you’re made of stone.
This may be Jason Isbell’s first solo masterpiece. He has established himself as one of the premier songwriters in music today.
This is a masterpiece. This year’s number one on my list, by far actually. And “Elephant” is the greatest new song released in 2013. His best songs, his best & most passionate singing & the best lyrics he’s written… no less.
Egil: Elephant, Cover Me Up, Different Days, Yvette
Hallgeir: Elephant, Flying over Water, Cover Me Up, Different Days
Cover Me up (ACL, will be shown on PBS 11 Jan, 2014):
Also check out:
-Hallgeir & Egil