Here are my favorite songs of 2013: (in no particular order)
1. Neko Case’s “Man” — That woman is more of a man than I’ll ever be.
2. The suite of 4 songs that opens Laura Marling’s “Once I Was an Eagle” — stunning sequence of songs
3. Buried Beds’ “Stars” — Like stars above us we’re all on fire — my favorite combination of stars and fire since Star’s “Set Yourself On Fire”
4. Okkervil River’s “Down the Deep River” — I point at things when I listen in my car.
5. Wesley Stace’s “The Dealer’s Daughter” — I will follow these zeugmas anywhere.
6. John Grant’s “Glacier” — Brace yourself for this kick in your gut. Seriously.
7. Jason Isbell’s “Stockholm” — God, this 6/8 shuffle should never end.
8. Mikal Cronin’s “Shout It Out” — The most unnecessary rhetorical question: “Should I shout it out?”
9. Iron and Wine’s “Caught In The Briars” — Such a happy place, though not quite as happy as…
10. The Spinto Band’s “What I Love” — Is there a song that made me happier?
11. Foxygen’s “San Francisco” — Wes Anderson montage.
II’m pleased to present to you a new collection of songs, a 5-song EP called Ravine Road—named for a steep and twisting wooded road I used to drive back in high school. It’s not quite a mile but driving it was always an event. The woods and turns obscured any reminder that you were just going from your friend’s house to the movies. Half way through, there was a sign by an old single-lane overpass tunnel that warned you to honk your horn so the opposing traffic could hear you coming. It was an excuse to honk obnoxiously and so we did. It made a terrific echo against the walls of the tunnel. It was fun.
I hope you find these new songs on “Ravine Road” fun. They’re a bit looser this time around—which is a nice way of saying I recorded all the parts by myself this time, in my home studio, without obsessing over every little detail. There was still a lot of obsession but I was more interested in capturing little live moments rather than fussed over ones. And so, armed with that approach, a somewhat limited understanding of proper recording technique, and some recently acquired vintage instruments—some from the auction of the estate of Josiah Hibberd, my late seventh-grade Social Studies teacher—come these five songs.
In addition to the title track, there’s a sort of Broadway Danny Rose-premised song about climbing into the action of an old movie; a chase song (if that’s a thing) about someone trying to shoot me with a poison arrow; an Aimee Mann-tweet-inspired song about Milwaukee, its statue of the Fonz and history of moonshine; and finally, a ukulele love song about death.
Stream, listen, and purchase here!
Plans for the end of year include, Old Man Winter Vol. 3, two new SongSmith songs, and maybe a preview of some of the songs I’m writing for the musical “Page Two.”