After compiling my Best of 1995 list, I was somewhat amazed to realize that nearly every one of my choices is a female artist, or a band with a woman on lead vocals. I'll leave the solving of this quandary to the Freudians among you. Here are my choices for the Best Albums of 1995...
Mascara Falls--Heather Eatman
What a delight to be able to positively review a friend's disc and not have to fudge the truth even a little. The Washington Post placed Heather's album in their Top Ten and they were right to do so. Heather writes terrific lyrics, is a very expressive singer and covers a wide range of styles on this, her first album. Pick it up.
This brood of Brits cranked out some pretty damned catchy, New Wavey music. I played this album as much as any this year. They were pretty good at Lollapalooza, too.
I come under ridicule in many circles for liking this band but I'm a tough guy, I can take it. 50,000,000 junior high girls can't be wrong.
This probably ranks second-highest on my most-played list.
To Bring You My Love--PJ Harvey
I like the album but the word is, she was the peak of her form at her Town Hall concert earlier this year. I'm kicking myself for missing it.
Naked Songs--Rickie Lee Jones
One of the greatest concerts I've ever attended was Rickie Lee Jones' show at Carnegie Hall a few years back. She was backed by a number of mostly-unplugged musicians and the attentive Carnegie Hall crowd was rewarded with an evening of magic.
In recent years, she's taken the simplification of her sound a step further, performing solo shows, accompanying herself on guitar and piano. This allows for a looser, more interpretive approach to familiar material. I doubt Naked Songs will garner Jones many new fans but it's nice to have these few years of performances documented. That said, Rickie Lee, tour with the band next time. Please.
Wasp's Nests--The 6ths
The 6ths are basically Stephen Merrit of The Magnetic Fields and a slew of guest vocalists (Barbara Manning, Mary Timony of Helium, Dean Wareham of Luna and many more). Wasp's Nests is an intelligent, tasteful pop record that holds up to repeated listenings.
Coolio's a rapper who ain't opposed to the occasional melody and that makes him okay in my book. "That's How It Is" is my favorite cut here.
Kim Richey--Kim Richey
This folk-ish country artist travels the same road Mary Chapin Carpenter trods but with a bit more grit. I was surprised at how often this made it into my CD player.
It sounds like faint praise, I suppose, but if you liked their first one, you'll probably like this one. I did and I do.
Wrecking Ball--Emmylou Harris
This is basically a Daniel Lanois album with Harris on vocals but that's fine by me. I like Lanois's work and admire Harris for daring to diversify her sound a bit.
The Dead Man Walking Soundtrack--Various Artists
A great roster of artists do songs insprired by the film, Dead Man Walking. Tom Waits, Michelle Shocked, Steve Earle and Patti Smith are the highlights here.
I have little use for most modern soul/r&b; it has a cookie cutter quality to it. But this one's great...a little Marvin Gaye, a touch of Al Green, a pinch of Sly Stone.
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