Since we made it through the fake apocalypse, I figure it’s safe to go ahead and make my list with the intention that you all are still around to read it. So many of my favorites put out albums this year…most people on my “must buy on first day of release” list made something new. It was a good musical year in my world.

These are not in any order because…I can’t.

1. Tift Merritt – Traveling Alone
Tift Merritt

I’ve known of Tift for a long time and have all of her albums, but this one grabbed me on the first listen and now I’m a devoted fan…finally.  Sometimes I’m slow, but I don’t regret the slowness.  Best tracks: Traveling Alone, To Myself

2. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Ashes and Roses
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No list made by me is complete without some MCC on it, and while I am biased you can go read about 1000 other reviews of this album to know it’s one of the best of her career and she keeps getting better.  However she does it, I’m glad.  Listen to: Transcendental Reunion, New Year’s Day

3. Walt Wilkins – Plenty
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Mr. Wilkins is perhaps the patriarch carrying the torch for Texas songwriters right now…he’s smart, thoughtful, an amazing performer, and about as soulful as they come.  Plenty is country, acoustic, and a songwriter album…but overall it’s just a great record.  Listen to: Something Like Heaven, Hang On To Your Soul

4. Rose Cousins – We Have Made A Spark
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Maybe one of the best voices ever in my book…the anti-diva.  Rose Cousins’ style is quiet and haunting, and her words are some of the most simple yet powerful of the writers I love.  Listen to: All the Stars, If I Should Fall Behind

5. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
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Another Canadian!  Kathleen has been amazing since her debut album, and Voyageur is a bit more lush in the production area than previous efforts.  Listen to: Change the Sheets, Chameleon/Comedian

6. David Ramirez – Apologies
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David is an Austin-based writer who tours all the time and I know it’s weird, but I’ve never seen him live.  His albums, however always have at least one track that grabs me and makes me spin is 459 times in a row.  On Apologies, that track is “Stick Around.”

7. The Trishas – High Wide and Handsome
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I’ve had the luck of seeing these ladies perform in various conglomerations over the years – as in a few Trishas at a time just because that’s how the gig was booked.  I did see all of them in their Trisha glory at the Big Barndance Festival in Taos and they are the real deal.  Four part harmony is always in style.  Listen to: Rainin’ Inside, Liars and Fools

8. Mindy Smith – Mindy Smith
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Mindy is a writer that pretty much says it like it is and sings it like her heart is breaking, which is always a good thing for a folk singer.  Even though it’s self-titled, this is her 5th album because she rolls like that.  Listen to: Pretending the Stars, Closer

9. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – The Heist
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My friend Mary insisted that I check this guy out and I listen to her whenever she tells me about music…and she was once again right.  Rap with a social conscience.  Listen to: Ten Thousand Hours, Same Love  (iTunes)

10. Garrison Starr – Amateur
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Garrison is another one that has made a lot of albums and they’re all great.  She’s more rock and electric but still a very grounded songwriter…which is what makes this great.  Listen to: I May Not Let Go, To Garrison on her 29th Birthday

11. Tori Amos – Gold Dust
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Another one of those artists that just keeps releasing new projects and they’re all good.  This one is Tori working with an orchestra to re-work some of her past catalog.  It works, and it still sounds like Tori.  Listen to: Flavor, Star of Wonder (iTunes)

Moving

It’s been a busy month. Things being as they are here in the bustling metropolis of Austin, Texas (Tech Capital of the State), rents get raised every chance an apartment company gets. They gave us the notice that our increase was almost 20%, and my roomie Katie and I decided it was time to split up and conquer living expenses elsewhere.

I am moving to our neighbor to the South, San Marcos, at the end of the month. It will be a slight change of pace for sure…I think there’s only 50,000 people in the town. It’s only 30 minutes to Austin, though, which is a drive that I can do with my eyes closed (Note: DO NOT DRIVE WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED).

This week, however, is one of packing and planning to move. My shelves are getting empty and that awesome van we tour around in is on call to move my stuff (thank you, Susan…real friends help friends move).

Messy Desk

I’ve kept my desk in its normal state as long as possible, because the rest of my space looks like a tornado. Come to think of it my desk looks like a tornado anyway, but it’s a planned one. Empty shelves freak me out so I try and put that off. An ascetic I am not.

Wish me superhuman strength and light furniture…

So every songwriter…I take that back…MOST songwriters want to be covered. It means another musician found your material moving enough to want to sing it themselves and internalize it for 3-5 minutes a night. I think it’s a huge thing.

SG and EW

To my utmost surprise, Susan Gibson and Elizabeth Wills covered an unrecorded song of mine called Throw You Forward this past Thursday at their Cactus Cafe show. They didn’t tell me it was in the plans, so when they introduced it my jaw dropped to the floor and remained as such the whole song. It was so beautiful. I can’t even lay claim to the gorgeousness…they put a layer of shine on my song that I hadn’t ever imagined.

Shelley, Walt, and Susan

Then Susan sung it again in Luckenbach on Sunday, and lo and behold the amazing Walt Wilkins and Shelley King sang it with her. I FEEL SO COVERED. It is neat to hear it take form from others’ voices.

The dream? Livin’ it.