WSS Playlist – Best Of 2013

The various contributors at WSS give you a taste of 2013 music by Singer-Songwriters worldwide. The list is edited by Mateo James and is also available as a Youtube Playlist.

  1. Every single night, Fiona Apple
    Fiona Apple takes the time to mould her songs from her inner complex riches and it echoes in the precise instrumentation, the sleek lyricism and the integrity of the delivery. Honest and witty introspection triumphs. Tiki
  2. I Ride at Dawn, Ben Harper / Charlie Musselwhite
    Ben Harper constantly challenges the boundaries of his musical knowledge exploring various types of fusion mainly around folk, rock and blues. Many seem to think that his teaming up with Charlie Musselwhite was therefore inevitable. They meet to deliver his 2013 studio album Get Up. It would be pure bliss if it did not have so much pure fusion 😉 Harper pens all the songs, sometimes with a co-writer. Tiki
  3. The Dress / The Place / The Moon / The whole EP, Marina Florance
    Shh… listen… Rose
  4. Mut’Esukudu, Richard Bona
    A precious feeling generated by a soft voice, sensual instrumentation and clever fusions from the evocative album Bonafide by Richard Bona where jazz meets Latin in a soft Sawa (Cameroon’s littoral region)-crafty artistry. Tiki (a choice of Tiki and Chantal Epee)
  5. Eska, Gatekeeper
    The title track of her EP reveals a voice to be reckoned with and folk music with a beautiful personal accent. Tiki
  6. You Know, Laura Marling
    The still surprising abrupt ending has in no way deterred from the pleasure of listening to this witty track. For WSS, this is the highlight (for lack of a better word) of Marling’s album “Once An Eagle” although there are some real gems in there and some winking accolades e.g. to the likes of Dylan’s It Ain’t me (babe) in Master Hunter (and did you perceive the American-sounding singing accent that might, for some WSS staff, decided on the ill fate of that track on this list… just saying). Tiki
  7. Chopping Wood, Jo Bywater
    This artist does not cease to surprise and excite the musical palates at WSS. She’s a mixture of integrity, philosophical wit, and guitar craft. Bluesy Folk yes but with the lasting after-taste of other influences cleverly added in and sometimes taking over. Chopping wood is quite the example of such work. Tiki
  8. You’ve Got The Trees, Alex Highton
    A definite favourite on Highton’s “Woodditton Wives Club” album although the full album is a gem. “world class” says Tim Robinson of BBC6Music. We agree. WSS
  9. Elderflower Fall, Pitch Feather
    Pitch Feather are wife and husband Alberta Leong and Chuan, writers of all music and lyrics on their album Mountain and Tides. Alberta showcases an amazing vocal flexibility that can easily display Celtic vibrato like in Elderflower Fall or Painter’s Symphony,  elegant assurance in alternative rocking pitches in Wish I could. It is difficult to believe that the couple hail from and live in Singapore and not somewhere in the U.S. especially when you hear Lavender Girl. A most satisfying album (aesthetically as well as in delivery) with a variety and completeness in the sounds appropriately complementing the album theme that explores “the struggles and hardships on the journey of every free spirit pursuing his/her dreams”. The album was self-released on the 28 October 2013. Tiki
  10. Daredevil, Race To The Sea
    Peace… with rhythm. Breathe out… Rose
  11. Invisible Empire, KT Tunstall
    How on earth could we miss this one?! We love what KT does in her 2013 ‘quiet’ release Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon. We love that modernly folked up sound and the way her voice glides over it so melodically and beautifully.
  12. Fire, Steve Mason
    Wow! Meaningful… in fact politically loaded, deceitfully mellow… in fact craftily so, contemporarily produced… beat, special effects and all. Yes! From the album Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time (loaded indeed) Mateo
  13. It’s Not Enough, Dustin Kensrue
    Kensrue, the frontman of the critically acclaimed alternative rock band Thrice, releases his first full length solo album The Water & The Blood where his Bible-inspired lyric-craft transpires, and combined with his rock vocals and clever instrumentation and production, offer powerful tracks, not just in this track but throughout his album. Mateo
  14. Immunity, Jon Hopkins
    The title track of Jon Hopkins’s fourth studio album showcases an album that reconciles you with the basic elements and your very self… if you only take the time to listen. Mateo
  15. For the dead man, Lucy Ward
    Derby artist Lucy Ward pens this protest song managing to beautifully capture anger in clean wit and showing maturity. The song is from her album Single Flame. Tiki
  16. Different Days OR Stockholm (let me go home), Jason Isbell
    If you think of either tracks “Different Days” OR “Stockholm” as lovely tracks extracted from a lovely album with lovely vocals and harmonies, you’ve barely scratched its surface. This is understated but fine and clever lyricism set on a deceptively safe, easy-listening country music background. Worth hearing many a time… ignoring the odd f.. word. WSS
  17. Holes, Passenger
    Holes follows the success of 2012 Let Her Go. Michael David Rosenberg does it again with the same 2012 album. If some of us were reminded of the lyrics of Gainsbourg ‘des p’tits trous’ (little holes), we soon all agreed that Passenger spoke of the Holes in our lives with the depth of a new perspective. Mateo
  18. When I Can See the Valley, Leyla McCalla
    One of the tracks from McCalla’s album Vari-Colored Songs (released on Dixiefrog) showcases the classically trained musician setting Langston Hughes’ poems to banjo and guitar-based music with rythms reminiscent of her multiple influences (Creole, Haiti…), matching both artists’ minimalist lyricism and harmonising her traditional cadence with Hughes’ jazz poetry, symbol of the 1920s’ Harlem Renaissance. Tiki
  19. Everytime, Bobby McFerrin
    Veteran vocalist virtuoso (VVV) and music perfectionist Bobby McFerrin releases spirityouall, an album about faith from the perspective of a man who seems to be constantly looking to comprehend the musical universe and yet is grateful for what he has been given. The chosen track, Everytime, features the vocals of Esperanza Spalding. Mateo
  20. Chains, Torres
    Torres was always going to make it in this list. Why? Because Alanis Morrissette meets Fiona Apple but brings her own colour to the witty female musician songwriter rainbow in delivery, instrumentation, in the individual personality of her craft has every high place in the heart of WSS. All that was left was to figure out a track that outshines all others. That was damn hard. We loved Honey, then we savoured Winter’s over but then agreed on Chains, so much we were all hypnotised by the track. It seems this year, some tracks are going to just have abrupt endings… well, we can live with that. Mateo
  21. Overgrown- James Blake
    Ethereal goodness! It is unreal what this music  is doing to me! Mateo
  22. Sending the message, Little Sparrow
    Impeccable vocals delivering great lyrics on a beautiful musical piece, not just in the song, but throughout the release. We love you too Little Sparrow. Tiki
  23. Reconsider Me, Dayna Kurtz
    This piano-based ballad is lifted by its lyrics and some gospel-inspired organ towards the end. Kurtz adds some amazing vocals on this track from Secret Canon, Vol. 2, a collection of researched uncovered blues and R&B gems from the 1940’s – 1960’s and her own originals confirming her songwriting craft. Her work has just paid off. Tiki
  24. Back To The River, Lily and Madeleine
    Two sisters, simple instrumentation and the resounding echoes of beautiful and delicate harmonies. Back to the river is from their EP released in Jan 2013 while an LP followed in October of the same year. This track speaks my kind of music. Tiki

  25. Home, Gabrielle Aplin
    A little breath envelops the lovely vocals of Aplin when she sings on her 2013 album “English Rain” but it so works with this track uncovering the emotional fragility that matches the melody and lyrics and highlighting the superb way that Aplin meets the track’s vocal challenge. Tiki
  26. Outra Vez, Sadao Watanabe
    Doesn’t it feel like experience brings a cleverer way of expressing and helping the listeners rediscover known emotions when they listen to Japanese legend Sadao Watanabe interweaving Jazz and Bossa Nova as if they always naturally belonged together… Tiki
  27. Mom and Dad’s Waltz, Patty Griffin
    Moving track or soapily predictable. Whether the weak heart or the blase mind speaks or fight it, they’ve both been taken by a great song and delivery. This song best marries Griffin’s vocals. Extracted from the album “American Kid”. Mateo
  28. Never Seen Such Good Things, Devendra Banhart
    Banhart seems to mix Folk, Alternative, Pop, his own unique weirdness. It works. Also featured in this 8th studio album “Mala” are his ‘homage’ to some of his influences, e.g. the Latin-infused and potentially addictive “Mi Negrita” accompanied by his soft voice possibly reminds us of the great Caetano Veloso. Mateo
  29. Old Dreams, Hayden
    Canadian singer-songwriter serves us variety and beauty on his release “Us Alone”. It is with the appropriately and exquisitely unearthly “Old Dreams” that I fell in love. Mateo
  30. No meu pais, Dom La Nena
    The cellist and singer-songwriter pens a delicate song with accents of her adopted musical country France, to give us a taste of the memories of her country of origin, Brazil. Tiki
  31. Lonely Street, Mason Jennings
    Not moving your head to the rhythm or tapping your feet to the beat of the track yet? You’ve not heard it, have you? While you’re at it, pray, pay attention to those lyrics. Rose
  32. Poye 2 – Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
    Blues meets West African Ethno-Folk on Poye2, the only track in the album ‘Jama Ko’ that truly transcends West Africa into an audacious but successful fusion. This is the main reason for the choice of this track although the tracks ‘Jama Ko’, ‘Mali Koori’, ‘Djadje’ and ‘Moustafa’ were in contention in the WSS e-office. Mateo
  33. Old man / Cinnamon girl, Neil Young
    Neil Young releases a live album live at the Cellar Door. It feels like meeting an old friend and having an intimate conversation about the sweet past… with the added maturity reflected in the simple acoustic set. Mateo
  34. Doni Doni – Vieux Farka Touré
    Love, love this instrumental showcasing Touré’s craft in the manipulation of the African harp which is so central in the art of story telling in West Africa ethno-folk. With the other tracks of the album, it take us a little journey through Vieux Farka Touré’s country as per the album’s French title, Mon Pays. Note that the last song Ay Bakoy was another strong contendent, amazing amazing track, blues-infused, almost ballady, extremely efficient. Mateo
  35. Walk Us UPTOWN, Elvis Costello and the roots
    … From the album Wise Up Ghost… How on earth can one so well mix funky and laid back-ness bringing a feel of the 70s to the 21st century. It is the belief in this office that nothing Elvis Costello does can go wrong. Period. WSS
  36. Talk me down, Willy Mason
    Mason’s various-genres- infused new wave folk album Carry On is full of good surprises and inspired variety and this pick only reveals one of the many musical aspects explored in this album. Mateo
  37. Green Garden, Laura Mvula
    It is your ears that are getting a little herb-moist with the feel that your feet should get… That is what this song can do… Mateo
  38. I’d rather be high, David Bowie
    The return of David Bowie after so long an absence from the studios refreshes the fans’ memory and engages newcomers onto Ziggy’s musical world. Mateo
  39. Peacock (Que Shen), Sa Dingding
    We could not quite wait for her third album and Sa Dingding takes again into her own world that combines the various far Eastern essences with elements of modern Electronica. WSS
  40. There can be only one, Cass McCombs
    A track from the album Big Wheel And Others, a little infectiously memorable, a little folky, a little bluesy, a little for the roads that Cass’s nomadic life takes him (and us) on. Mateo
  41. Something ’bout a boat, Jimmy Buffett
    A simple song that gets us all on board Buffett’s release Songs From St. Somewhere, something about sea, sun, streets and more. Mateo
  42. No elephants, Lisa Germano
    Put some hushed vocals on tender piano and some eerie-ethereal violin and other unidentified sounds. You get the title track of Germano’s 2013 release… Mateo
  43. Hymn to the odin, Julian Cope
    We love the spoken word, the chorus’ melody, the lyrics and Julian Cope. Sometimes that is all it takes. However, we don’t know if the song could not get outta our heads because it is that addictive or if it is because it lasts 7 minutes 10 seconds. WSS
  44. Bonfire heart, James Blunt
    We were surprised to hear of James Blunt’s single since I read somewhere that he was leaving the music industry. Rumours aside, this is not a bad comeback. Mateo
  45. Future Strings, Catrin Finch
    Catrin Finch teams up with Seckou Keita on Clychau Dibon to give us Future Strings among other tracks fusing Celtic and West African strings. Mateo
  46. Little French Song, Carla Bruni
    Not from her most exciting album release, but Carla Bruni seems to be having fun and the playfulness of Little French Song might just make up for the attempt to show some pride in the undeniable richness of the Francophone singer-songwriters legacy. Mateo
  47. The real thing, Roxanne de Bastion
    The nomad lady takes us on a trip to her version of the real thing, the title track of her 2013 release. Mateo
  48. Dust, Sarah de Warren
    Wow… Rose
  49. Kouma OR Ka Moun Kè, Rokia Traoré
    from the album Beautiful Africa
  50. New, Paul McCartney
    Paul McCartney has continually been proving to the John Lennon-base at WSS and beyond that his unending talent goes truly beyond the collaborations with the afore-mentioned genius. Good on him. Mateo
  51. Nyuwe, Etienne Mbappe
    From his release Pater Noster, Etienne Mbappe sets a definitely appropriate dark and low atmosphere for his track Nyuwe. Mateo

Tiki’s 2013 debut album “Out Of The Black” is included on this list but is not ranked since she is part of the team and ranking is done by the whole main team with any willing guest writers.

  • Escape, Tiki Black
    The most played song on a “pretty beautiful first album”. Chantal Epee

Ones to watch in 2014

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