My 10 Best Albums of 2013

5. Nashville Cast, The Music of Nashville, Season 1, Nashville SoundtrackVolumes 1 & 2 and various singles

Nashville has become a wealth of incredible music; not an episode goes by where I don’t either buy a song or wind up with one in my head. I’ve lumped both soundtracks from Season 1 and the singles from both seasons into one for this list. Most of the songs don’t fit squarely into contemporary country (thank God). Instead, they carry more of an alt-country feel, with flourishes of rock and/or folk throughout. The vocal performances are a surprising treat, especially considering most of the cast are actors who sing rather than singers who act. I’m looking forward to more great stuff from this series.

Best of the Best: “Change Your Mind,” “Gonna Get Even,” “Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again”

Redeemed And Brave4. Scott England, Redeemed And Brave

Scott England is a good friend of mine, and I have the privilege of serving with him on the Creative Arts team at Eastridge Community Church. So it’s a pleasure to witness this worship EP meeting with success. Redeemed And Brave is bright pop-oriented worship that sounds even better live – we’ve already incorporated two of the songs at Eastridge. For thoughtful, solid worship music, you can’t do much better than this.

Best of the Best: “Alive,” “Psalm 63,” “Live It Out”

3. Wire Method, The TryingThe Trying

I’m proud to know three members of Wire Method – bassist Jared Cox and guitarists Cameron Moore and Seth Banks – for a long time, and I’m excited to see such great music coming from them. The Trying is a lean five-song EP,with excellent vocals and instrumentation. The band has a unique, full sound reminiscent of great female-fronted bands like Eisley or the Cranberries. The Trying is good stuff, with the promise of more terrific music to come.

Best of the Best: “Brighter Days,” “Keep On,” “Anchor”

Disposition2. The Crash Years, Disposition

Disposition is the first full length record from Clarkesville, Georgia-based The Crash Years. I’ve known vocalist/keyboardist Joel Cox since he was a kid, and I’m impressed with what he and his bandmates have accomplished here. This is sophisticated, piano driven pop-rock with lyrics that draw the listener in. Each song is like a mini-movie or short story, with its own setting and tension. I believe this is just the beginning of the cool music we’re gong to hear for years to come from these guys.

Best of the Best: “The Way We Were,” “Edge Of Sound,” “Simple Things”

1. The Civil Wars, The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars

By now, everyone knows the story: Joy Williams and John Paul White aren’t speaking. Yet the sad story of the band can’t detract from the feat they accomplished with their self-titled second album. There’s not a bad song on this set; this is a snapshot of a duo in high creative gear. Adding a touch of electric instrumentation deepens their sound, but the real stars are the lead vocals and harmonies. Creative tension doesn’t get any better than this.

Best of the Best: “Eavesdrop,” “Dust To Dust,” “From This Valley”