ONE.  Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell. There was so much anticipation for this record and it delivered in a huge way as well as massively exceeded expectations. His faint voice and light instrumentation is perfect.

Note: in becoming a continued student of the relationships of music and spirituality, Sufjan's words and songs are especially intriguing. This article is worth a read.

TWO.  Leon BridgesComing Home. I'm a fan. I love the fresh soul he brings and tribute to Sam Cooke.

THREE.(tied) David RamirezFables. David's work has always resonated well with me. I am a fan of David as a person, as a songwriter, and as a performer. For him and Noah to team up to make this record was a really great gift this year gave.

THREE.(tied) Noah GundersenCarry The Ghost. Haunting, beautiful, arresting, tasteful, art. That's all I got.

Note: This record had PHENOMENAL album art. Philip Harder's work on this cover is really incredible.

FIVE. MutemathVitals. I knew that Mutemath was coming out with a record, but I honestly did not expect for it to be so good. I have listened to it so much, and this song is one of my favorites of the whole year.

And in no particular order:

  • Ryan Adams1989. I love that he did this. I love that he didn't care. And I actually really enjoy it.
  • Sandra McCrackenPsalms. Sandra infused so many beautiful melodies into the Pslams - so thrilled for her and how this turned out.
  • Jon ForemanThe Wonderlands. Jon's writing shines so brightly through this series of EPs
  • Adele25. I am not the only one who liked this record a lot.
  • Matthew Perryman JonesCold Answer. This record seemed to fly totally under the radar, but has some gems on it.
  • Brandon FlowersThe Desired Effect. "Between Me & You" is one of my standout tracks of the year.
  • Rayland BaxterImaginary Man. Rayland has a super fresh voice and a lot to say.
  • Chris StapletonTraveller. There are only a handful of people or guideposts that I personally look to for music recommendations. Seth posted about Chris Stapleton right when the record came out and I gave it a gander then and immediately thought "What a voice!" America has also caught on and that is fun.
  • LoveliteHopeful Strangers. Always solid.
  • The Japanese House. All releases. TJH is one of the greatest surprises of the year. Cool vocals, some heavy emotional distortion. I love it.
  • Oh WonderOh Wonder. Simple and pretty. Some great piano riffs.
  • BeirutNo No No. I never gave Beirut a listen before this year and my interest was piqued when I saw their new record released. The sonics and melodies on this record are phenomenal. 
  • James BayChaos & the Calm. Zero to hero in a seemingly short time and he deserves it.
  • Justin BieberPurpose. This is an amazingly catchy record.
  • Julien BakerSprained Ankle. Last "JB" of this list and a pretty important record as far as faith + music is concerned.
  • Hillsong UnitedEmpires. Standard greatness.
  • Tobias Jesso JrGoon. Feels old-timey and I dig it.
  • Matthew E WhiteFresh Blood. Just enough groove to keep it fresh.
  • ColdplayA Head Full of Dreams. Getting slightly better with every listen.
  • Joy WilliamsVenus. New Joy & new songs made a great combo. Some solid tracks, but "Sweet Love of Mine" is a standout.
  • Ben RectorBrand New. Ben is a kind man and consistently putting out great work. Stoked on how this record came out.
  • Slow MeadowSlow Meadow. The best instrumental music out there at this point.
  • Ivan & AlyoshaIt's All Just Pretend. Simply solid.
  • Lord HuronStrange Trails. Continuing down the trail they blazed.
  • LapsleyUnderstudy. Quite the arresting voice.

Thanks for getting this far. A Spotify playlist of some of my highlights from these records has been compiled for you here.

And I want to hear about your favorite records. Tweet me! @p_dodd

P.S. Interesting graphic Spotify gave me this from their Year In Reviewfunction: