John Hiatt – Terms Of My Surrender

New West, 2014

Now in his 60s and after 40 years of making music, Hiatt’s 22nd album keeps his endless flow of vivid story telling strong and leaps into more rugged blues areas, with his voice a bit lower than normal. The reflections on aging here are thoughtful, sometimes comical, as Hiatt sticks primarily to acoustic guitar while his band carries the melodies. Very few people will ever be as consistently interesting as Hiatt, and it’s safe to say that he’s one of the most multi-faceted faces of Americana ever.

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Ages And Ages – Divisionary

Partisan, 2014

An eight piece, all of whom sing, Ages And Ages keep the nearly untarnishable ideal of Portland folk-pop alive with soaring harmonies, warm melodies and plenty of hand clapping. Though the music is generally indie-lite and upbeat, the band have been marred by personal strife while making the album, so lyrically it’s a more downcast affair then their jubilant debut. Make room on your year end list for this one.

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Phox – Phox

Partisan, 2014

A six-piece indie-pop outfit following in the footsteps of many indie-folk pop outfits, if you enjoy banjos, whistling, horns and gorgeous female vocals, the rock meets psyche meets gentle soulfulness on here is ideal. Orchestral strings, pining melodies and multi-layered softness further solidify this as an essential album of 2014. Whether it’s hushed cooing or lush and expansive, Phox resonate with a timeless beauty.

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Death Has No Dominion – Death Has No Dominion

SQE, 2014

If you were ever in the market for a ukulele-based album, the Danish duo of Rasmus Bak and Bjarke Neimann have you covered. Pulling you in with serene, acoustic folk songs, the pair have an affinity for leaving a lasting impression with minimal sounds. Without leaving their comfort zone of gentle volume and cautious tempos, the pair provide a fertile ground for ambient, emotionally gripping strumming.

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Trummors – Moorish Highway

Ernest Jenning, 2014

A duo consisting of Dave Lerner of Ted Leo and Native Nod fame together with Anne Cunningham, Trummors play stripped back folk music with dual vocals, each taking up a couple instruments in songs often constructed around a harmonium. Gentle in a country vein, and with sweeping harmonies, the Gordon Lightfoot cover doesn’t seem the least bit out of place on this glorious album.

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John Murry – Califorlornia

Evangeline, 2014

Murry’s deep voice steers these eclectic and often sombre tunes in a way that brings to mind blues, country, folk and Americana written from a thoughtful rock’n'roll perspective. Though his strong point is his dense balladry, Murry’s no stranger to upbeat melodies and distortion either, and provides much variety with only a few songs here, including a compelling Warren Zevon cover.

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