While some of the music listed below is new music released in 2015, much is not. The older I get the more I listen to music older than I am. And I just can’t do a list of music released in 2015. I’ve tried before. The “best of” lists are already limited. And I don’t want to limit them to music only released in the previous 12 months between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. Plus, I like talking about the old albums I’ve bought. The old albums that have spun on someone else’s turntable. Some 50 years ago or more.
So my criteria for what is below is I listened to them for the first time in 2015 and I own the vinyl version.
Also, these are not necessarily listed in the order of how much I like them. While the first two I could certainly call my absolute favorites of the year, the rest are randomly listed.
The Burning Edge of Dawn – Andrew Peterson
He gets it. You can hear it in the music. You can hear it in his voice. And the lyrics are clear. AP has stared into the blackness of “the dark night of the soul” and wondered. If God loves him. If any of it matters. Will the dawn ever come? I’ve listened to a lot of music in my life. And when I was going through all he sings about, I would reach back like a drowning man for songs to help me along. I always found something helpful. But nothing that felt like a mirror and a window I could look into. Nothing like this. This album goes far beyond entertainment. That is too small a Universe. This was sound, voice and word helping me put all I had been through into focus.
Psalms – Sandra McCracken
I started listening to this album while at the beach with friends. The specter of going back to work after the vacation was haunting me and making me miserable. This album helped. Before long this album become a help in the middle of the night when I’d wake up and my mind, packed solid with worry, would race. And then my heart would race. It was like spiritual Xanax, having these songs in my head. It’s also a beautiful album and sounds lush on vinyl. You can hear the music bouncing off the floor of Brian Murphy’s Brooklyn apartment.
Time Out – Dave Brubeck
When this was released in 1959 it blew the jazz and pop worlds’ minds simultaneously. It did what no other Jazz album has ever done. This jazz album had a song (with no vocals) hit the Pop Charts of Billboard peeking at #2. I had never listened to it before this Fall. And I fell in love quick. Actually, I’m kinda obsessed.
Coming Home – Leon Bridges
When I first heard the title track, it took my breath away because he sounds so much like Sam Cooke. And no one sounds like Sam Cooke. But this guy does. Every song is great. The album sounds old. Possibly because it was recorded on vintage equipment. It sounds like 1960.
Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music (Vol 1 &2) – Ray Charles
Saturday. A few days before I bought my first turntable. I expected nothing, but the estate sale guy said there were some records down in the basement. So I went down and Volume 1 with its blood red cover is the first thing I saw when I got to the bottom of the steps. Volume 2 was right behind it. I picked up about 10 great records that day but nothing as good as these. We’ve probably listened to these two albums more than anything else. They cost me $1.00 total. I’m not sure I could sell them.
Jazz Samba – Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd
I just got it on vinyl. But I’ve been listening to the first album of Bossa Nova ever recorded for a few months. Getz/Gilberto (“The Girl From Ipanema”) is the most famous. But this is the first Bossa Nova album. I can’t believe I found it. Stan Getz sounds like every perfect night of silence. And Charlie Byrd’s guitar is perfect.
Shadows in the Night – Bob Dylan
I named a son after Dylan. But I did not think I would like this album of Dylan doing Sinatra standards as much as I do. The first time I listened, I admit, I wondered what I had just bought. But then I listened again and again and each time I heard something that drew me in. He is an old man now. And when he sings “That Lucky Old Sun” it has meaning.
Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell
I love this album. Every note. Every line. The only singer/songwriter I can compare Isbell to is Townes. And I don’t really have a higher compliment when it comes to country music. Every note. Every line. All worth your attention.
Duets – Van Morrison
Its Van Freaking Morrison…