My Top 10 Albums of 2005 listed in order.
1. Back to Me, Kathleen Edwards
An impressive follow-up to 2003′s Failer, for me Back to Me was the album to beat all year. I’ve listened to songs from this album all year long. Her tales of absence and heartache delivered by smokey yet smooth vocals go equally well with a morning coffee or evening cocktail. Ottawa has a gem with Edwards. Best said in the title cut, “I’ve got ways to make you sing my songs / Ones I ain’t written yet / I’ve got lights you’ve never seen / I’ve got moves I’ve never used / I’ve got ways to make you come / Back To Me”. I, for one, will return to this one many times more.
Key Tracks: In State, Back to Me, Summerlong, What Are You Waiting For?, Copied Keys.
2. Northern Skies, Todd Thibaud
I’ve been an admirer of Thibaud’s music, but I didn’t fall in love until this album. Northern Skies, his fourth solo record is full of great tales of life and dealing with it. At times rockin’, at others intimate reflections of a man that has seen both the good and the bad. This album has a great set of songs from beginning to end. Its truly great to hear a little twang come out of New England.
Key Tracks: Lost Again, Louisiana, Three Words, Why Can’t I Explain, Long Way Down
3. Okemah and the Melody of Riot, Son Volt
Jay Farrar and the boys are back. Albeit the band members are new, but who cares? This album rocks! Its as if they never went away. Named for Woody Guthrie’s hometown Okemah and the Melody of Riot is lyrically thought provoking but more importantly it brings back some good ole hellraising rock n’ roll. Clink! Keep it coming fellas.
Key Tracks: Afterglow 61, Atmosphere, 6 String Belief, Gramophone
4. Wicked Twisted Road, Reckless Kelly
Straight-up rock Texas style. This could be their best album yet. From the rockin’ Wretched Again to the acoustic Wicked Twisted Road the band delivers a bootstrapping, booz slinging good time.
Key Tracks: Wicked Twisted Road, Seven Nights In Eire, Motel Cowboy Show, These Tears, Wretched Again
5. Bound Away, Last Train Home
Nothing can be finer than when a great band exists in your local area. For me in Northern Virginia, that band is Last Train Home. I first became aware of them this year when they made it to the AMA Chart. Since then, I had the chance to go see them at the 2005 Old Dominion Beer Festival. I was immediately won over and have included them in my favorite current bands. Lead singer Eric Brace’s vocals are reminiscent of Patterson Hood of Drive-by Truckers fame and Willy Braun of Reckless Kelly.
Key Tracks: Hendersonville, Gravedigger’s Blues, Flipping Quarters, Marlene
6. Cost of Living, Delbert McClinton
This guy is so smooth. He delivers a blend of country and blues like no other. Sounding somewhat Texas and somewhat Louisiana, Cost of Living does not disappoint.
Key Tracks: One of the Fortunate Few, Down Into Mexico, Had a Real Good Time, Two Step Too
7. Nashville, Josh Rouse
A nice follow-up to previous album 1972, this tribute to his adopted hometown is a wonderful blend of pop, folk and of course a small dose of twang. Fill your Elliott Smith cravings with some Josh Rouse.
Key Tracks: It’s the Night Time, Winter In the Hamptons, Carolina
8. If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry, Marah
Marah continues to impress with If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry. A touch pop, folk and even punk, these songs are reminiscient of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Clash. This album easily makes my top 10 for 2005.
Key Tracks: City of Dreams, The Hustle, Fat Boy, Sooner or Later, Walt Whitman Bridge, This Time
9. Fair and Square, John Prine
After a long hiatus, Prine delivers an outstanding folk album. He’s got plenty to say after surviving cancer and does so with amazing wisdom and poignancy.
Key Tracks: Glory of True Love, Crazy As a Loon, Long Monday
10. Camelot Falling, Mike McClure Band
A fantastic album I became aware of far too late in the year. I will continue to listen to this album more in 2006.
Key Tracks: Eden Burning / Camelot Falling, Mustang, Modelo
Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights, 29, Ryan Adams (and the Cardinals)
It was very tough not to have Ryan Adams in the top 10. The problem is that I couldn’t seem to pick one album of the three released this year. If he’d taken the best from all three and released a single album, it probably would have made the top of the list. Well at least we’ve got a bunch of great music to pick from. Here’s to hoping there will be more from Adams and the Cardinals.
Key Tracks: When Will You Come Back Home, Let It Ride, The Hardest Part
Hope and Desire, Susan Tedeschi
Not a whole lot more to say here than I’ve already said about Tedeschi this year. Had this been a release of originals it would likely have been top 5. Not to discredit it, its still an amazing album. Outstanding vocals, but even more impressive is the guitar and production.
Key Tracks: Lord Protect My Child, Evidence, You Got The Silver
About the author: Washington, D.C. area web designer by day. Certifiable music freak by night. Husband and father of two by the loving grace of God.