Best Albums of 2013: Scott Nygaard, Contributing Music Editor

by Scott Nygaard

Joy Kills Sorrow
Wide Awake
Powerful acoustic pop from this virtuosic stringed-instrument quintet who knows that pop music depends on songs with great melodies, in-your-face rhythmic grooves, and passionate singing. (Signature Sounds)

Aoife O’Donovan
Crooked Still’s vocalist goes solo with a chamber-folk gem produced by Tucker Martine that showcases her songwriting, proving she’s just as talented at writing songs as interpreting them. (Yep-Roc)

Jason Isbell
Isbell’s soul-searching songs, deft guitar playing, and heartfelt singing may have gotten the most attention on this breakthrough release, but the melodic intensity of these songs will keep them spinning long after the public’s gaze moves elsewhere. (Southeastern)

Old Buck
Old Buck
This young old-time string band, featuring Riley Baugus (banjo), Debra Clifford (guitar), Emily Schaad (fiddle), and Sabra Guzman (bass), shows that folk music is more rhythmically exciting, soulful, and emotionally relevant when it is immersed in the tradition. (Tin Halo Music)

The New Kentucky Colonels
Live in Holland 1973
Clarence White’s inventive, syncopated, and melodic bluegrass guitar playing bursts the seams of this recently discovered live recording, recorded the same year as his tragic death. (Roland White)

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