Best Albums of 2013: Amber von Nagel, Web Editor

Posted by Amber von Nagel

Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer
Child Ballads 
The perfect mix of romance and melancholy, Child Ballads had me hooked from the first track. Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer's vocal harmonies and guitar interplay feel completely organic, achieving both a crisp sound and a rawness in emotion that absorbs the listener entirely into the narratives of each of these dark traditional ballads. (Wilderland)

Rome
Hate Us and See If We Mind 
Luxembourgish folk-noir outfit Rome, the main musical project of singer-songwriter Jerome Reuter, draws on divergent tones of brazen strength and crushing vulnerability in their daring 2013 EP. Hate Us… is rooted in a lovely sense of contrast. It plunges you into a deep, dark ether of noise, only to suddenly pull you out by the shoulders and ground you in the elegant, gorgeous brand of acoustic dark folk that Reuter is known for. (Trisol)

Of the Wand & the Moon
Shall Love Fall from View?
With rich vocals, full-bodied fingerpicked guitar, and minimalist keyboard, Danish neofolk giant Kim Larsen delivers all the beautiful heartbreak you'd expect from an Of the Wand & the Moon release, and it feels especially intimate this time around. Short but sweet, this EP will tug on your heartstrings and leave you with a heavy sigh in your lungs. (Heidrunar Myrkrunar)

Arborea
Fortress of the Sun
Shanti and Buck Curran always manage to top themselves with each new album. Fortress of the Sun is no exception. With this release, the psych-folk wife/husband duo perfect their ethereal, droning sound, paying tribute to the blues and traditional music, all within a forward-thinking, experimental lens. (ESP-Disk)

Valerie June
Pushin' Against A Stone 
In her lush blend of blues, folk, soul, and traditional music, Valerie June's 2013 LP is visceral, graceful, and full of feminine strength. Songs like "Workin' Woman Blues" stir up sounds of West-African folk and 1920s classic blues, while "Shotgun" evokes the rawest form of blues possible, with doomy slide guitar lines and some seriously dark lyrics reminiscent of Victoria Spivey's or Ma Rainey's work. (June Tunes)

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