Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2013

Vinyl Records

2013 has provided yet another year of amazing music from the folk, acoustic, traditional, roots, alt-country and singer-songwriter scene. There’s been a number of strong local releases this year and some definite highlights from our favourite artists from overseas.

This also feels like a year where more artists are embracing the full length album again. There have been some outstanding EPs and standalone singles of course but the album format really seems to have made a resurgence.

Once again we’ve asked each of the Timber and Steel contributors to give us their favourite albums or EPs of 2013 and the results are once again eclectic, interesting and most certainly unique.

So without further ado we bring you Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2013:

Gareth Hugh Evans

Melody Pool

1. Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene
At the Gulgong Folk Festival in early January I stumbled across Melody Pool and was transfixed. Pool’s music was both timeless and fresh. Her sound was a dash of Laura Marling, a smattering of Emmylou Harris and a generous dose of Joni Mitchell but all the while unique. I’ve heard people refer to Melody Pool as an “old soul” and think that captures her – there’s a depth and an age to her lyrics and her voice that you don’t hear in artists twice her age. When I picked up The Hurting Scene following its release a month or two after the festival it was put on high rotation and I was reminded just what had captured me when I saw her live. I’ve recommended The Hurting Scene and Melody Pool to everyone since, seen her live a number of times throughout the year and even awkwardly chatted to her when she support The Milk Carton Kids. I think there’s big things in Melody Pool’s future – pick up The Hurting Scene and you’ll think so too.

2. Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson HamerChild Ballads
3. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle
4. Patrick JamesAll About to Change
5. Gregory Alan IsakovThe Weatherman

HannahA

Melody Pool

1. Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene

The song writing on this album is skillful and honest – I love that. Additionally I’m partial to a great singer, Melody has a sweet delicious voice that draws me into the song. Finally, I liked the production which had interesting space and dynamics. And those rich string arrangements are just gorgeous!

2. Mustered CouragePowerlines
3. Dan ParsonsDan Parsons
4. Rose CousinsWe Have Made a Spark
5. Matt CorbyResolution EP

Haz

The Melodic
1. The MelodicEffra Parade

This is an album that immediately brought a smile to my face. A blend of traditional folk harmonies, older (even baroque!) instruments, tied together with afro-latino rhythms and strings of the charango, and the ever present melodica of their namesake. For me comparisons include the hugely underrated Grand Union, the music of Paul Simon, the bass driven melancholy of Australia’s Sodastream, and certainly, as a number of other reviewers have mentioned, The Decemberists. All comparisons considered, this is an upbeat album, that is lyrically adventurous, and interspersed with story, without being at all heavy. Though released for the colder UK months, Effra Parade sits coolly and comfortably in the summer of the southern hemisphere, that can (and will!) accompany many a lazy Sunday cocktail or weekend roadtrip.

2. The Heavy BlinkersHealth
3. Twin ForksTwin Forks EP
4. The Avett BrothersMagpie and the Dandelion
5. Jim JamesRegions of Light and Sound of God

JDX

Laura Marling

1. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

In this album’s first single “Master Hunter”, which is a statement in itself, Marling swaggers and snarls in front of her pounding rhythm section. “I’ve cured my skin, so nothing gets in. Nothing as hard as it tries.” A friend said she sounded kind of scary. I like that. I like to think this is a protest album against gender stereotypes, but she’s much more than a woman scorned. The music is sparse, sprawling, full of odd angles and surprises. Sometimes it’s challenging, sometimes it’s beautiful. But it’s her voice that always catches me off guard. It’s one of the most expressive instruments in music. And that’s what this is about. With all the lush musicianship stripped away, Marling proves once again that she is one of the most intriguing and independent voices in 21st century music. And if this album isn’t considered a classic, it’s only because the next one will be better.

2. The Cat EmpireSteal the Light
3. The Milk Carton KidsThe Ash and Clay
4. Mama Kinthe Magician’s Daughter
5. Brighter LaterThe Wolves

KT Bell

Mabon

1. Jamie Smith’s MabonWindblown
I came across Jamie Smith’s Mabon at a London gig earlier this year, Wales at Cecil Sharp House, and they were the stand out for me wherein I bought their latest album, Windblown, on the spot. Since then, this lyrical and lilting Welsh Folk has strummed and jigged its way in to my heart and is one of the most frequent spins on my playlist. Stu decided it’s the type of house music for a Welsh Bar, so if you see such an establishment pop up here in Australia, don’t be surprised to see us behind the bar.
2. Mike VassDecemberwell
3. Paper AeroplanesLittle Letters
4. Boy & BearHarlequin Dream
5. Josh PykeThe Beginning And The End Of Everything

Mackajay

Anais Mitchell

1. Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson HamerChild Ballads

When I first listened to this album I was immediately impressed by the way the modern, American arrangements breathed new life into these old, old English ballads. What is far more surprising is that I am still finding the album fresh and inspiring many months later. This is my clear winner this because of it’s routinely high rotation on my stereo.

2. Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
3. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle
4. Laura ViersWarp and Weft
5. Boy & BearHarlequin Dream

Nikita Andrea

Jordie Lane

1. Jordie LaneNot Built to Last

Devoid of cliché, this ultimate storyteller voices lyrics of the present moment through warming crystalline vocals. This release is a welcome sound evolution of Lane’s alternative country style. I chose Not Built to Last because for one this is an EP showcasing songs that clearly prove this musician has something to say and also for the fact that I heavily dislike anything country so this man should be heavily commended for bringing such full and palatable music to the table for all tasters.

2. Bob EvansFamiliar Stranger
3. Oh Pep!II
4. Bears With GunsOnly The Quick and the Hungry
5. Sleepy DreamersCreatures

Serena Skye

Mama Kin

1. Mama KinThe Magician’s Daughter

I liked this album from the outset, when I first reviewed it, and throughout the year it has grown on me even more. Danielle Caruana’s vocal is sublime, and each track offers a different vibe both sonically and emotionally, but they still work together as a cohesive album. “Bosom of Our Bed” is still my favourite track, closely followed by “Rescue,” and I cannot wait to see their next offering.

2. The Cat EmpireSteal the Light
3. Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
4. Laura MarlingOnce I was an Eagle
5. Melanie HorsnellThe Cloud Appreciation Society

Thom Owen Miles

Phosphorescet

1. PhosphorescentMuchacho

Despite Phosphorescent consistently releasing album after album for the past ten years, Muchacho is the first to truly appeal to me and capture my imagination. Muchacho is a product of tall ambition, of bold choices and unfettered creative vision. For an indie-folk record, it is delightfully untraditional in its production and utilisation of mediums unfamiliar to the genre. “Song For Zula” is perhaps the best song to speak for the album, in all its poetic bliss and compositional glory.

2. Radical FaceThe Family Tree: The Branches
3. The Milk Carton KidsThe Ash & Clay
4. Brown BirdFits of Reason
5. Night BedsCountry Sleep

3 Comments

  1. December 18, 2013 at 10:51

    […] what is now an end of year tradition Timber and Steel are following up own list of the top albums of 2013 with a piece that opens the floor to some of our favourite […]

  2. John Eeles said,

    December 19, 2013 at 00:15

    From Jamie Smith’s MABON….
    aawh, thats most kind and decent of you good peeps…. thanks a million ms bell, glad the show in london was up to scratch and that the album has delivered top dollar, and in time we will hope to grace your fine country with a show or two! (we play in borneo in june if that helps!!)
    here’s to a fine and festive period, and crack a tinny for us in the rather more chilly northern parts…. spread the word, and keep up the great work…. JSM
    http://www.jamiesmithsmabon.com

  3. December 20, 2013 at 13:12

    […] We revealed the top albums of 2013 according to Timber and Steel’s contributors. Read the piece here […]


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