This is a time of looking forward. To the familiar artists that will return. To the new artists that will be discovered. This year, like any other, comes with a wish list. Some albums will never materialise. Others will slightly disappoint. A few will remain life-long friends. Fingers crossed for the latter. In no particular order, apart from alphabetical, my 2018 wish list includes new releases by Alela Diane, Anäis Mitchell, Bill Callahan, Caitlin Harnett, Cat Power, East River Pipe, Field Report, First Aid Kit, Jacob Golden, Jenny Lewis, Jessica Pratt, Jim White, Jonathan Wilson, Laura Veirs, Lewis & Clarke, Pearl Charles, Phosphorescent, Pinegrove, Richard Edwards, The Delines, Vetiver, Wooden Shjips, Wye Oak and the artist formerly known as Young Man.
And yet, there is a special place in the 2018 wish list for a new album by Kramies (pronunciation to be determined). With rumours going back at least a couple of decades, there are unconfirmed reports that an album is finally on its way and that Ireland had some part to play in it. We wait with fingers crossed, though we have learned not to hold our breath. The hard way. In the meantime, here’s a wonderful feature by Shon Cobbs and his Behind The Scenes colleagues from Denver. It features Kramies answering questions and sometimes asking them too. Plus a lot of laughing.
That nice man Jacob Golden has kindly sent me two downloads of The Invisible Record to give away for free. It was one of my albums of the year. So, it’s highly recommended. Just send me a message via Twitter or leave a comment with a contact e-mail below and I’ll send the code to you. Enjoy. And thanks again to Jacob Golden.
When war is a thing of the past, when hunger and poverty have been banished from the land, when the Cubs finally win the World Series, then the world will be a better and fairer place and these artists will sell millions of albums. In the meantime, we have to be content with the thought that they all delivered a great record this year, even if some of them had to ship the units themselves. Here’s my Best of the Year, Pt. 3.
Noah Gundersen – Carry The Ghost
Carry The Ghost managed to bring a winter chill to warm summer days. It had its share of slow, sad songs, but there were some feisty guitar licks too. And it all came to a head on ‘Heartbreaker’. There’s a clue in the title.
As part of Old Crow Medicine Show, Gill Landry used to sell millions of albums (well maybe). As a solo artist, he has found his voice. And what a good one it is. His s/t release was chock full of gorgeous, slightly melancholy songs. Oh, and a duet with Laura Marling. Now that was something.
John Statz – Tulsa
Honest albums from hard-working artists. That’s always a good start and John Statz took it from there. Tulsa was full of small-town stories with very big themes. And all of them backed by some fine playing and great production.
Jacob Golden – Invisible Record
After a long absence Jacob Golden returned with a triumph of an album. It was worth the wait. Catchy hooks, bittersweet lyrics, and a certain integrity that transcended the music alone. Will we have to wait so long for the next instalment?
Grand Lake Islands – Song From Far
Rumours of a merger with Great Lake Swimmers turned out to be false. So, we were left with Song From Far. And very happy it made us. This January release was the harbinger of a really great musical year.
Jacob Golden – The Invisible Record
Back in 2007 Jacob Golden released one of the albums of the year. Revenge Songs was a raw and at times bitter set of break-up songs. It seemed to mark the emergence of a powerful new force in the tradition of Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, or Conor Oberst. Some things, though, are slower to emerge than others. Making Kate Bush and Damien Rice seem prolific, only now, more than eight years later and with a nod to the delay in the title, has the follow up album landed. Was it worth the wait? You bet. This is another great collection of songs. There’s plenty of musical adornment, but at the core everything is built around the guitar and Jacob Golden’s beautiful voice. The result is an intricate set of songs, with strong melodies, and erudite lyrics. There are some lovely turns of phrase, “Mother on the fire escape again, Nat King Cole on an old Walkman”. But perhaps the most striking track is ‘Bluebird’. This is a song that first saw the light of day at least seven years ago. Sung in the first person, it tells the story of an artist discovering music at a time of adversity, signing a record deal, losing pretty much everything, and then finding some redemption. It’s about the most autobiographical song you’re likely to hear this year. And surely one of the best, not least because of its references to Jarvis Cocker, P.J. Harvey, and The Flaming Lips to mention just a few. Jacob Golden has been away for far too long. The Invisible Record marks not just a return, but a more than welcome one. Let’s hope the next record is called The Surprisingly Quick Follow Up.