Win a Lucinda Williams Double Album: Tell Us About Your Favorite 2014 Album

Win a Lucinda Williams Double Album: Tell Us About Your Favorite 2014 Album December 29, 2014

Photo on 12-29-14 at 11.20 AMIt’s a Christmas miracle: I ended up with a second copy of one of my favorite 2014 albums. And I’m in the mood to give somebody a Christmas present.

So tell me: What album meant the most to you in 2014? And why?

Post a paragraph or two telling us about your favorite in the Comments below (Your post may take up to 24 hours to actually appear, depending on my availability for comment approval).

I’ll draw a name from those contributors on January 3, and I’ll mail the winner the excellent 2014 double album by Lucinda Williams: Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.


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14 responses to “Win a Lucinda Williams Double Album: Tell Us About Your Favorite 2014 Album”

  1. Congratulations to Clint Wrede, whose number came up as the winner of this contest. (I told iTunes to play the tracks of Disc 1 randomly, and #8 played first. Clint’s comment is listed 8th here, so… the album belongs to him.

    I also encourage you to listen to Clint’s recommendation: Laghdú.

  2. “Down Where the Spirit…” is wonderful, but alas, I already have it (Christmas gift), so if you happen to draw my name, draw another.

    My favorite album of the year – perhaps of the decade so far – is D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah”. In the age of protests in Ferguson and New York, it’s timely and hard-hitting, but never loses its groove. It’s as adventurous as I could possibly want an album to be, yet has several cuts that sound like they’ve always existed. Worth the wait!

  3. The album that has meant the most to me in 2014 actually came out in 2013, but I didn’t discover it until February.

    When I was about 10 years old, after 3 years living in Nashville, I spent a year in rural Alabama with my then stepmother and her family. I’ll just say that moving from there to Saudi Arabia, where my father had taken a job with a military contractor, was actually an improvement for me. Over the years I’ve found my experience in the South reflected fairly extensively in literature but almost never in contemporary music. Mainstream country music puts a gloss and a sheen on Southern life that highlights and celebrates all of its perceived virtues, but rarely gives voice to the kinds of things I experienced and witnessed. So when I happened to tune in to a recording of Austin City Limits with Jason Isbell performing from his latest album, Southeastern, I was almost immediately taken back to Reform County, Alabama. And not in the sneering, holier-than-thou voice of a Northern outsider, but of someone who grew up there, who loves the place, but can see things and people with an open and empathetic eye to the contradictions to be found there. I immediately bought the album, and it’s been in my car cd player ever since.

    Cover Me Up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaUCDqWzy1k

    • “Meridian” by The Soil & The Sun. This seven-person group fronted by a Grand Rapids husband/wife combo has exploded on the scene in the past few years, and this, their third full length, finally captures the range of crescendos they pull together live. There is a longing in so many of these tunes — a longing for truth, for help from above, for comfort and even justice. The longing is brought out in some sort of tribal fashion (think: four cave men and three cave women around the original tribal fire, or scrawling their shared stories on cave walls.) The dynamic contrasts seem to reach new heights — just when you think they couldn’t kick things up a notch, they take it up three or four more. My song of the year is the first song on this CD, which is actually a much quieter song in terms of what TS&TS pull off live, but its words, and its melodies — so beautiful. It is “Are You?,” and you can see a live version of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppm7Kauxs7Q

    • It’s a great album, I agree. The top pick of several good friends of mine who are connoisseurs of great music. I need to spend more time with it.

  4. Bastille’s Bad Blood is the most influential album of 2014 for us as a family – even though it might not be the absolute pinnacle of musicianship, the four (!!) singles on the radio are consistently catchy pop-rock that actually seem to be saying something – which is saying something. Take a listen to “Flaws” – how often do artists actually admit to having such things? (Not often enough, I reckon.)

  5. Canadian indie rock trio The Rural Alberta Advantage
    released a masterpiece of an album in 2014: “Mended with Gold.” What these three talented musicians do with music is incredible. The lyrics are haunting (“Our love will bring us down”) (“Cannot love when your heart turns to dust”) and the melodies are catchy (especially “Runners in the Night”). I dare you to listen to this album and not be humming at least three songs when it’s done.

    I was tempted to post about the new Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil album “Goliath,” but I’ve only listened to it three times so far. It’s great, but Mended with Gold was released earlier in the year and I’ve listened to it dozens of times, so it gets the nod. It remains as fresh as ever. The songs are performed primarily with simple acoustic guitar, keyboard, and drums, along with male lead vocal and female backing vocal. These guys know what they are doing and it turns out to be an incredible experience.

    *The other comments here are great and have given me some new music to try!

  6. I am going to go with a veteran singer, singing like I have never heard her before. I simply adore the album Uncountable Stars, by Joanne Hogg, known largely in association with the Celtic-fusion band, Iona.

    Joanne has put forward a small string of solo albums. They are beautiful, stunning, sober and sophisticated, graced with chamber piano. Uncountable stars is different. (I am cheating, I am copying the rest from a review I did of the album.)

    The music has all the sophistication and beauty I would expect, but it is charged. Like — with electricity. (Literally and Metaphorically). I am hearing passion … and play, Beauty with a capital B… even something bold and strident. Can we use the world Amorous? I am not sure I will get the right string of adjectives, because the moods and vocal approaches from song to song vary substantially, and I would have to make a list for each song.

    Ps. I am writing this live, even as I listen. I just hit track 8, Mountain of Debris… and I am stunned. My mind is racing with all kinds of visual images. Surreal images, dark and swirling… I want to use this track for a time lapse… I see images of deserts and death… and healing and things which are broken coming together… but mostly., there is one big idea hidden here, and behind these many tunes.

    I am hearing in each song, saturating this disk… the extravagant mercy of God.

  7. A Dotted Line (Nickel Creek) has to the one that meant the most to me this year, but not on its own merits. It is both familiar and new, a collaboration of great artists I’ve loved but new music, not just a rehash of what they did years ago.

    I think I loved it because it reflected my own 2014 – a transition to motherhood: at once familiar and new. It was the first album I boughs after Huck’s birth, and it was on repeat all summer.

  8. First, I need to connect with commenter StRalph, since four of his top albums would also be on my list: Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer, Sarah Jarosz, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, and the Divided & United project (which would be worth the price if it only contained the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ “Day of Liberty” and Chris Thile’s “Richmond Is A Hard Road To Travel,” in addition to the 30 other tracks on the 2-CD set, not a loser among them). To those, I’d be remiss not to add Nickel Creek’s first album in nine years, A Dotted Line.

    But my favorite of 2014 is a dark horse that came out of nowhere near the end of the year. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman’s album Laghdú features just these two musicians (one Irish, one American) playing hardanger fiddles, a Norwegian instrument that has four strings similar to a regular violin, but then four or five more unplayed, sympathetic strings that resonate with the others.

    The arrangements are spare and (like the instrument itself) haunting, but I found myself turning the music up and listening for every note so I could take it all in. The one word I’d use to describe the album is mesmerizing.

    Since this album is far off the mainstream radar here in the U.S., I’ll let you know that you can stream it here and see some fascinating (to me!) performance videos of three songs here. Finally, last week the public-radio show New Sounds devoted an episode to new hardanger fiddle music, including Ó Raghallaigh & Trueman’s, which you can listen to here.

  9. “Death in Reverse” by Jeremy Casella, an independent Nashville-based artist. On this album, Casella explores the theme of renewal and resurrection in a beautifully executed song cycle. The songs boast earworm hooks combined with symbol-rich, poetic lyrics that explore the human experience of mingled joy and sorrow, glory and painful disappointment. Casella is pushing himself and the listener to journey in and through suffering to a vision of ultimate renewal and divine beauty

  10. Well, I’ll bite: “Musique Sacre Russe” by the Moscow Chorale. Deeply moving Russian Orthodox a cappella choral music, released on the French DOM label. Not a 2014 release, but I bought it at the end of last year and am just blown away every time I listen. Other good stuff I picked up in 2014 or thereabouts:

    Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn S/T
    Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer: Bass & Mandolin
    Andy Statman: Superstring Theory
    Sarah Jarosz: Build Me Up from Bones
    Rory Gallagher: Calling Card
    Billy Strings & Don Julin: Rock of Ages
    Joe Henry: Invisible Hour
    VA: Divided & United – Songs of the Civil War
    Louvin Bros.: The Christian Life – The Definitive Louvin Bros. Story (4-disc box set on Proper Records)

    And some vignettes …

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy Hugh Laurie’s recent ventures into old blues and jazz music. When guitarist Mark Goldenberg joined Hugh’s band, he needed an electric mandola for one song, and I just happened to have the very instrument he was looking for … so I sold it to him. This was enough to score a pair of comps and a backstage invitation when the band played the Paramount in Seattle … so yes, I got my photo taken with Hugh Laurie. Thanks, Mark!

    In college I began hearing about a local jazz guitarist named Bill Frisell who was doing some interesting projects. I went to see him at the Moore Theatre, playing his score to Buster Keaton’s “Go West” along with the film. A few years later Frisell released the score on CD, but I never collected a copy of it … until my birthday this past year. It brings back pleasant memories.

    Another timely gift was “Bombay Makossa,” from the Indian/African power trio Chingari. This is, tragically, the final project from U. Srinivas, the fantastic Indian electric mandolin player from Chennai, who spent three and a half decades reinterpreting the Carnatic classical music of his homeland on an American instrument most closely associated with the “Western swing” style of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Srinivas was widely embraced for his ability to work within the strict confines of traditional Carnatic music on an unconventional instrument, but he also wasn’t afraid to branch out once in a while, on projects with guitarists Michael Brook and John McLaughlin, as well as this Chingari trio disc, released two days before Srinivas died at 45 of complications from liver disease. He was just a few months older than me, and I count it a great privilege to have met him and attended a couple of his Seattle shows.