2015 was a year when a lot of my most memorable music experiences happened live: whether it was Barb Jungr’s soul-shakingly great reinventions of material by Cohen and Dylan, The Beatles and others, Sufjan Stevens turning the delicate autobiographical intimacies of Carrie & Lowell into a staggering rock spectacle, or Carmen Consoli inspiring awe-inducing expressions of Italian adoration at her show as part of David Byrne’s Meltdown. These experiences live only in memory now, and are, perhaps, all the more potent for that. Below, though, is a list of the motley crew of albums that I listened to and loved the most this year, along with links to a few choice tracks from each.
"My Own Land", "Queen Material", "No H20"
|The Trackless Woods, Iris DeMent|
"From the Oriental Notebook", "Listening to Singing", "Like A White Stone"
|Skeleton Crew, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear|
|Music Complete, New Order|
|The Rose of Roscrae, Tom Russell|
"The Last Running," "Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos", "The Rose of Roscrae"
|Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl, Various Artists|
"Jamie Foyers", "Schooldays Over", "The Terror Time"
|Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey|
"Freak", "Music To Watch Boys To", "Salvatore"
|Leonard Cohen: Zaśpiewany, Various Artists|
"Lawina", "Jestem Twój", "Tańcz mnie po miłości kres"
Bonus: the Made in Dagenham OCR loses a few points for only being available as a download. But I have such affection for David Arnold and Richard Thomas's witty, wonky, silly, smart score that leaving it off the list for that reason seems a bit churlish. These songs make me really happy, especially the sublime (Toby Keith-inspired...?) account of US self-image that is "This is America". (Take a listen, below.) A list book-ended by the scores of musicals that should still be on, in other words ... Merry Christmas!