Thursday, 29 December 2011

Album of the Year 2011

Here are my top 5 albums of the past year. They are not necessarily the most popular, but they are the ones that I’ve found myself coming back to over and over again. See what you think!

In descending order:

5/ Let them talk – Hugh Laurie
This gets on the list because it was such a huge surprise! Who would have thought that the star of Jeeves and Worcester, indeed Stuart Little’s dad, would have such an authentic blues voice. But he does, full stop. This is the real deal.

4/ Worship Central – Spirit Break Out
I get bored quite quickly with contemporary worship albums, all recording the same songs, in the same way, long after we have already got bored singing them in church. However, although this album has some familiar songs, it is just brilliant. There is a real momentum about the Worship Central guys, and there are some great songs, done really well on here. If you only buy one worship album a year, get this one. Job done.

3/ Laura Marling – A creature I don’t know
Riding the wave of new generation British contemporary folk pioneered by Mumford and Sons et al, Laura Marling is far too young to write this kind of mature, compelling music. Somehow it works. I’ve listened to her bitter sweet, powerful songs most days through the autumn and it is still growing on me.

2/ Soul UK – Beverly Knight
Oh what a voice, what an album, what magnificent soul arrangements, what great production for a British album! This deserves to be number one and to be heard by the nation. They should be made to listen to music like this at school, they should make music lessons play this stuff and help British kids to clap on the off beat, feel a groove and sing like a Diva. You have to buy this album.

1/ Let England Shake – P J Harvey
This brilliant, weird, edgy album has been my hidden pleasure over the last year. I still don’t understand it, it remains disturbing – the hunting horn at the start of ‘This Glorious Land,’ the Islamic lament which cuts across ‘England’. At her worst P J Harvey is odd and irrelevant. At her best she is glorious. This is her at her best, and everyone ought to get this, even if they don’t ‘get’ her. It remains a breathtaking album of poetry, culture, music and madness.

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