Best albums of 2013

Music Review

18 Dec 2013
various
Best albums of 2013
various

Laura Marling
Once I Was an Eagle
CD

Laura Marling has made many great albums for one so young but her latest is the most appealing. The recording is extremely intimate and Marling incredibly seductive as a result, even if the songs themselves tell a different story. Musically it has a strong Led Zeppelin feel, but folksy Zep rather than heavy, in fact it’s reminiscent of Bert Jansch who was a clear influence on Jimmy Page. There’s something of the Joni Mitchell to Marling, not in the sound but in the intelligence of the songs and the subtlety of their delivery. Perhaps she should cover some of Joni’s songs as well. But she doesn’t need to with tunes of the quality heard in Little Love Caster and Beast which pricks the hairs on your neck with the singer’s presence. This is a mature and sophisticated album by a singer/songwriter who just keeps on getting better. JK

 

 

Herbie Hancock
River: The Joni Letters
24/96 download

Released in 2007 this is Hancock playing the music of Joni Mitchell with a number of guest singers including Joni herself. As a big fan of the originals I was surprised at how much I have enjoyed this exceptional recording. The opener is Court and Spark sung by Norah Jones who brings plenty of nuance and depth to the song, and this combined with Hancock’s arrangement brings new qualities to the piece. The same is true for Edith and the Kingpin sung by none other than Tina Turner, a surprising but very successful choice that finds the singer in remarkable fettle and able to dig out the pathos of the song in no small way. In truth I didn’t realise it was her, it’s a long way from her eighties sound and it’s a long time since I heard that, but she is no small talent and it’s great to have her back. My final pick is the last track, The Jungle Line from Hissing of Summer Lawns, here the lyric is spoken by Leonard Cohen with backing by Hancock alone. Both the voice and piano are superb in this deep, dark piece. JK

 

 

Samuel Yirga
Guzo
24/48 download

This one I have reviewed in full here. Suffice to say that this Ethiopian pianist is a talent the like of which rarely comes along. I like his solo work the best, you can get closer to him and the message is clearer than on the tracks with full band backing but many of those are fine too. Of the piano tracks Dance with the Legend and Ye Bati Koyita are probably the strongest, they remind me of Abdullah Ibrahim and Keith Jarrett at their respective best, and without the vocalisations of the latter or the relatively poor recording of the former. Black Gold of the Sun is great too, not far from the original except in the voice it’s a proper choon and joyfully executed. JK

 

 

Agnes Obel
Aventine
CD

After her debut album Philharmonics, Agnes Obel delivered an even better album Aventine in 2013. Her intriguing music with fine orchestral arrangements gets into my veins and makes my blood rush. The fact that Aventine is available on vinyl makes me happy too and for convenience a CD is included in the sleeve. I’ve played this over and over since its release. RvE

 

 

Janine Jansen
Bach Concertos
CD

She might be Dutch, just like me, but that is not the reason for recommending her latest CD on the Decca label. Janine Jansen’s interpretation of the Bach Concertos represents her way of playing music. She can play her violin with delicacy then change to being wild in a second. Jansen gets totally involved with the music she plays. On stage or on an album it is always a great pleasure to listen to her performance. Highly recommended. RvE

 

 

Lori Lieberman
Bricks Against The Glass
CD

If you are looking for a lady who is still pure, a singer songwriter in every bone and who brings out wonderfully recorded music, look no further than Lori Lieberman. She is still singing and performing all the time, over 40 years after Killing Me Softly With His Song. Her latest album Bricks Against The Glass might only be for sale from her own website but that should not stop you. Buy all the other ones while you are there. Beside her music I like the way she helps young musicians to get publicity. Almost like a mother presenting her own children, caring, proud and making room for fresh talent. Yes, I am very fond of her and fond of her music of course. RvE