Our look back at the best albums of 2013 concludes with picks from Elmore’s publisher Suzanne Cadgene.
Mark Knopfler – Privateering
Knopfler takes us on a world tour, from “Seattle” to “Radio City” to his roots in Scotland with “Haul Away,” and although we pass through some uncharted territory in these two CDs, Knopfler’s familiar vocals and the cleanest guitar licks in the universe serve as touchstones. In 90 minutes, Knopfler takes us through folk, eight-bar blues, traditional Scottish sounds, ballads and, of course, rock and roll. If you work up an appetite on this ride, hit repeat on “Corned Beef City”—definitely one of the tastiest stops on any album this year.
The Wood Brothers – The Muse
Stir up equal parts Levon Helm, Robert Johnson and Townes Van Zandt, and you’ll approximate the Wood Brothers’ latest and best. Bass from Chris Wood and guitar and vocals from brother Oliver Wood. with relatively recent arrival Jano RIx, this group delivers the best of southern-style songcraft: poignant, funny and original in every word.
John Batdorf & James Lee Stanley – All Wood & Stones II
I admit the Stones still hold a special place in my heart, but Batdorf & Stanley’s acoustic treatment of rock’s oldest bad boys not only stands on its own as a terrific CD, but opens a while new appreciation for some of rock ‘n’ roll’s most iconic songs. Traded leads, lovely harmonies and superb guitar from this duo grabbed me from the opening track, “Honky Tonk Women,” performed as if from an actual honky tonk, a fresh idea. “Miss You” becomes a haunting, profound expression of longing in their hands, and the next eight tracks keep up the excellent work.
Holly Williams – The Highway
She’s blonde, she’s beautiful, she’s Hank Williams’ granddaughter and Hank Jr’s daughter and she’s written and recorded an incredible neo-outlaw folk album, but if she’d only written “Waitin’ On June,” Holly Williams would still deserve a place in music history. One a sunny day in Rhode Island, I saw 3,000 people go silent as this woman sang her grandmother’s life story. Songs on The Highway take us on a very personal journey, and it’s one that I’d buy a ticket for any day of the week.