The end of the year is usually pretty light on new releases; especially December. So I usually spend the last month of the year reviewing ‘best of’ lists to find out what I missed. This year I skipped the lists in favor of giving my ears a break from new music. I have been digging deep, going as far back as the 70’s and 80’s for my Winter soundtrack, but there were two recent albums that wouldn’t leave me be — two (dark) folk albums which have haunted me for awhile now. They weren’t released in December, but the story of 2012 would not be complete without them.
Mirel Wagner – Mirel Wagner
(Friendly Fire, 2012)
The stripped-to-the-bone folk tracks on Mirel Wagner’s debut album make Cold Specks seem like a double rainbow on a sunshiny day. The singer-songwriter from Finland (via Ethiopia) slowly creeps up on you — her voice revealing a multitude of layers on each listen. What sounds like a simple acoustic album on the first listen, evolves into something darker and lonelier than the depths of the deepest well. Yet, in this solitude, the true soul of the album is revealed and it is nothing less than stunning.
Mirel Wagner – No Death
Will Johnson – Scorpion
The leader of Centro-matic released his latest solo album on Sept. 11th of this year, but Scorpion didn’t find its way onto my playlist until very recently. In fact, it was one of the last albums I listened to before putting a period on 2012. This album is more immediate and less dark than Mirel Wagner’s, yet it feels right that they should share this post. Will Johnson’s latest ranks among the very best ‘folk’ albums in recent memory.
Will Johnson – You Will Be Here, Mine