2012 was the year in which the balance of my listening habits rather veered away from Radio 6Music. Which is not to say there's been a lowering of standards there as might be said for other sections of the Beeb (see also below), just that I seem to have been casting my musical net a little more widely. On the one hand I've been soaking up a fair amount of Jazz FM and Radio 3 jazz coverage (hence numbers 8, 10 and 11 in my list below) and on the other I've been a reasonably faithful follower of Mike Harding's Wednesday evening Radio 2 slot (2, 3, 12, 15 and 16), soon to be pulled from the schedules, scandalously.
I also seem to have been to more gigs than ever. There's been a lot of jazz--several visits to Ronnie Scott's and, as ever, the annual ten-day November jazz binge that is the London Jazz Festival--and a fair amount of folk--notably a) a Sandy Denny tribute concert early in the year which opened my ears for the first time to a whole catalogue of music hitherto somehow off my radar and b) another rather pleasing August Bank Holiday at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival particularly in the company of some excellent woman singers (2 and 3).
That said, we did hear from a few of the old staples of my CD collection: Hawley, Fagen, Saint Etienne and Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier striking out on her own. I've also tried not to ignore some of the newer kids on the block: Mala's--possibly adult-oriented?--Latinised dubstep, the interesting fruits of Sam Lee's song collecting work among the Romany community and the impressive new blues/soul songs, piano and--especially--VOICE of Natalie Duncan.
For me it's Richard Russell's collaboration with soul-legend Bobby Womack which pips the others to the post. As with his work with Gil Scott Heron in 2010, Russell has brought the best out of a soul artist who's had a difficult time of it recently and whose best years we might have thought were behind him.
That's what I think anyway.
- Bobby Womack: The Bravest Man in the Universe
- Karine Polwart: Traces
- Caroline Herring: Camilla
- Richard Hawley: Standing at the Sky’s Edge
- Beach House: Bloom
- Donald Fagen: Sunken Combos
- Natalie Duncan: The Devil in Me
- Kenny Wheeler: The Long Waiting
- Snowgoose: Harmony Springs
- Esperanza Spalding: Radio Music Society
- Trish Clowes: And in the Night Time She is There
- Thea Gilmore: Don’t Stop Singing
- The xx: Coexist
- Saint Etienne: Words and Music
- Sam Lee: Ground of Its Own
- Laetitia Sadier: Silencio
- Lianne La Havas: Is Your Love Big Enough?
- Quantic & Alice Russell: Look Around The Corner
- Mala: Mala in Cuba
- Spiro: Kaleidophonica
To hear more, fire up your Spotify machine...
- albums of the year (at least most of 'em)
- trax of the year (mainly odds'n'sods which have popped up on the radio)
- songs of the week (courtesy of This Is My Jam Inc.)
And, as ever, please argue...