Regular visitors to this site will know that I have a weakness for psych-tinged, country-flecked, resolutely indie, rootsy Americana, preferably with a lap steel thrown in somewhere along the way. It was a good year for this particular genre. Here are my five favourites.

Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Silver Season

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With or without his Gripka, Israel Nash is the current king country psych. He’s willing to give time to let themes develop, but never gives in to longueur or excess. That’s a winning formula.

Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands

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“And may all your favorite bands stay together”. A lovely sentiment to match a fine album. And with it, Dawes consolidated their place as one of the bands that I’d like to see staying together for a very long time.

American Aquarium – Wolves

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Wolves was a little less frenetic than some of American Aquarium’s previous releases and it was no worse for that. This was a masterclass in mature songwriting and playing. And with a certain southern sadness thrown in as well. What could be better?

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

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Even Deerhunter’s most restrained offering of recent times still left them slightly out there. But that’s what was so good about Fading Frontier. Think of it as Radiohead’s Americana album.

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

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Jason Isbell is pretty much East Nashville-tinged musical royalty by now. Something More Than Free cemented his reputation as one of the best songwriter’s around. And ‘Children Of Children’ was one of the great songs of the year.

Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Silver Season

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“I don’t live like the others”, says Israel Nash on his Silver Season, “I see twice as many colours”. It’s a hippy-style sentiment right out of the 1970s. And this is an album that’s infused with the sweet, yet slightly acrid smells of Topanga Canyon. But there’s more to Israel Nash’s Silver Season than a whiff of patchouli oil and a few liberal sentiments. Full of songs with wonderful melodies (‘Mariner’s Ode’ is a fine example), great playing all round (check out the bass line on ‘Strangers’), and the highest quality song craft (pretty much anything on the record), this is more than a throwback to a now bygone era. This is a great album in its own right. What’s nice is that it doesn’t give in to ’70s-style excess. Sure, there’s a good old-fashioned guitar solo on ‘Strangers’, but the temptation to dress up a jam as a fully fledged composition, or simply to over-extend (think Jonathan Wilson’s last album) is curbed. So whereas a song like ‘Lavendula’ moves along so nicely that there must have been a temptation to keep it going, we’re treated to 4 minutes 30 of glorious sounds and then it’s brought neatly to an end. “Sooner or later we’ll surrender our guns”, we’re told on ‘Parlour Song’, “But not until we’ve shot everyone”. It’s something we might have heard a few decades back. But it’s still relevant today. Just like Israel Nash and his Silver Season.

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