It's the end of the year

It's that time of year again, time to put together the "best of" lists - best films, best albums, greatest achievement in obscure whatever. With a three year old son, I never go to the movies so I can't comment on the cinema, but I can offer my favorite album suggestions. Here they are in no particular order: Kate Bush - Aerial. Those who know me have heard me rave about Ms. Bush's music over the years so it should be no surprise that her first album in 12 years makes the list. I loved the beautiful sparse melodies and how her singing has matured over the years. She retains all the passion of previous albums but moves beyound the wall of sound that powered her work from the mid- eighties. Robert Plant - Mighty ReArranger. It seems to me that Led Zepplin was such a powerful musical force because they combined the awesome playing of the musicians and the magical, voodoo ritual elements that they gathered from around the world and planted at the heart of their songs. That voodoo, mysica,magical groove is alive an well on Plant's latest album with more of a nod towards world music than to heavy metal. Neil Young - Prarie Wind Neil goes acoustic again, and once more travels to Nashville to gather many of the folks who worked on Harvest. The title fits the music exactly. Old wooden songs from someone looking back at life's landscape. Abigail Washburn - Song of the Travelling Daughter. Washburn plays banjo with the old-timey outfit Uncle Earl and I'd recommend their latest album as well. Travelling Daughter takes the drama and passion of old timey music and grooves in the modern world. There's nothing here that sounds out of place or cliche- the open back banjo is the logical instrument for these songs which include probably the only traditional appalachian mountain chinese music you'll ever here. Laura Veirs - Year of Meteors. Excellent moody modern melodic music. Ms. Veirs writes insightful songs that have a timeless quality while still sounding completely contemporary. One of the best of the singer-songwriters. Emma's Revolution- One By far the most uplifting song I've heard on disc this year leads off this recording by the duo of Sandy and Pat. This album is full of powerful lyrics and memorable music including (in my opinion) the most touching and real song to come from the tragedy of 9/11. You can find this recording at their website Bruce Springsteen - Devils and Dust Let's not forget the boss! This album came out earlier in the year but I haven't been able to stop listening to this collection of stories, fables and dreams. Combined with the 30th anniversery of "Born to Run" - by the way, don't miss the special CD/DVD combo celebrating that one - it's a good time to stop to appreciate the amazing body of work Bruce has produced. The new album is harsh, beautiful, and perfect. I hope you have a lovely time over the winter holidays and a grand beginning of the new year!

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