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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The 10 albums that I've enjoyed most in 2012

Here are the 10 albums (in no particular order) that I've got hold of and enjoyed the most in 2012:

Taken from the Latin and literally meaning 'within the walls', Intra Muros is the album of "spooky" Christian music Bryan MacLean was completing at the time of his death. Due to 'the great strength of songs like the amazing Love Grows In Me and My Eyes Are Open', Intra Muros 'stands as fine testament to the ability of a great songwriter.'

The darkness, loss and wandering that suffuse Babel is fused with the transcendent sound and anthemic choruses that Mumford and Sons conjure up with banjo, double bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals.

The Bob Dylan of Tempest, 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' and so many other songs, is the faithful watchmen who sees the storm of the apocalypse on the horizon and who warns his people before it is too late. Tempest is, therefore, a profoundly religious album.

Bill Fay’s songs on Life is People are simply astonishing - simple and melodic yet with unusual imagery and insights delivered with gravity and grace. 'Cosmic Concerto (Life Is People)' is a highlight from a collection of stand-out tracks; a celebration of the miracle of ordinary life, the infinite variation in each human face, which stirs his soul.

The Laughing Stalk - Woven Hand’s David Eugene Edwards says, 'The myths of our country are in the songs. The untold stories and gaps in history books are in the songs – our recollection is preserved in this music. Those songs as well as the stories that my parents told me, the bible and the books I read, all this is the foundation of my imagination of America.'

The fluid, flowing lines of Aradhna’s Namaste Saté possess the something more that comes from an ability to inhabit and then transcend the spirit of your sources.

Wrecking Ball is a masterful summation of Bruce Springsteen's strengths and an inspirational call to real hope in the face of genuine despair. The album is propelled forward by the anger of its storytelling songs before seguing through 'Wrecking Ball' into songs of hopeful fortitude for which Springsteen appropriates the language of faith and the imagery of the Bible.

Home Again - Michael Kiwanuka, who has been compared to Bill Withers and Al Green, has an "honest, unpretentious and raw style" that "is straight to the matter, unspoilt soul music at it’s best." Alexis Petridis wrote that "Kiwanuka addresses The Lord with such frequency that you picture Him hiding behind the sofa and pretending to be out. At first, it just sounds like a lyrical tic, but by the time you reach I'm Getting Ready – "to believe" – it's pretty clear that it runs substantially deeper than that."

One of the things I love most about the work of Leonard Cohen is his self-deprecating humour. There is real self awareness and humility on Old Ideas combined with the distance and irony of setting many of the lines ostensibly about himself in the third person. Leonard the man speaks to Leonard the persona. All performers seem to need to create a stage persona that is in some way separate from the reality of who the person actually is. On this basis, ‘Going Home’ is to do with the experience of leaving the stage in order to experience reality - "Going home / Behind the curtain / Going home / Without the costume / That I wore."

Gungor’s Ghosts upon the Earth is a set of songs for the jaded in which the phrase "fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully made" sums up much of what is experienced on this album. "All praises to the one who made it all and finds it beautiful". Michael Gungor writes, "As the various vocal parts circle the listener’s head when the band’s last chord fades out, one can imagine hearing the voices of all of these elements of creation (moon, sun, earth, wind, etc.) singing the praises of their creator."


Woven Hand - As Wool.

1 comment:

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