2013: A Year in Review (Books & Music Edition)

Last year I started what I would like to become a yearly tradition where I take a look at what were my personal favorite albums and books of 2013!  Since we only have a few new release Tuesdays to go and I don't see my mind changing at this point, without further adieu...

MUSIC

1.

Julie Roberts: Good Wine & Bad Decisions

The best album this year you've probably never heard of (unless you are a Country fan) comes from the lovely and talented Julie Roberts!  I've been a fan of Julie since her first album came out back in 2004, but man this one takes the cake!!!  I first heard she had an album coming out this year on the music website called pledgemusic.  If you've never heard of this site it's really cool, artists will put up items that people can pledge on (things like, an early digital copy of the album, or an in home concert, an old guitar, etc) and once they reach their goal they are able to release their album.  The cool thing is once you the fan make a pledge you are then privy to all sorts of cool videos and letters from the artist about the process that is going into making the album.  Julie is a really down to earth and in touch with her fans kind of person anyway on her facebook and such (she even gave a shout out to Colorado during the floods); but once I had access to the pledgemusic site I was able to really see how the album was coming along.

This album was the first album in decades to be released on Sun Records (the same label that was home to legends like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley) and boy is it filled to the brim with delicious Memphis goodness!  Julie was made to sing country (and no not the pop Taylor Swift kind) but good ol' down home move you in your soul country!  Her voice is amazing and her lyrics are just what the doctor ordered: they're filled with longing and sexiness!  Here are some of my favorite lines (starting with the opening line of the album, and the title track):

"It don't matter what dress I put on
we both know it won't stay on for long
And these heels all their good for
Is walking through your door
and laying on your bedroom floor
Good wine and bad decisions
Hey a little lovin' never hurt no one"

"Sometimes a girl just don't like to be alone
Two old flames burning bright
Oh it sure feels right 
If only for one night"

My other standout song is called "Keep Me Up All Night" (are we seeing a theme yet?)

"Be my hot pot of coffee baby
Keep me up all night"

"Sometimes a lack of shut eye's just
what a body needs"

"Be my summer church tent revival
lead me back to the light"

"I swear tomorrow morning I won't mind
Keep me up all night"

Then there is a tune called "Old Strings" that I just can't stop listening too:

"I should open the windows
and let some light in
but I just pour some wine
and play these old strings again"

And, let me not forget to say that her version of the classic "Gasoline and Matches" blows LeAnn Rimes and Rob Thomas's version out of the water!

I could go on and on... but I won't.  Check her out, she rocks!


2.

Lou Doillon: Places

This amazing artist hails from France!  She is Charlotte Gainsbourg's sister and Jane Birkin's daughter.  So basically she comes from Parisian music and fashion gods!  Her famous family aside, she has put out an album that I am in love with!!!  My favorite songs (possibly of the year) are ICU and Places.

Here's a sample, from ICU:

"So I drag myself to the corner cafe
And for a second I see you there
like in the good old days
And I wonder what you're doing
what are you up to these days
I sometimes wish you would call me
but then I wouldn't know what to say
And I see you
In the cabs that go by 
in the strangers 
at every crossroad
in every bar"

"Cause all that's left now are my dreams and memories
but I'm glad you came through my life and put your stain on me"

And from Places (which in a perfect world would win a million awards for the best songwriting):

"We figured it out
creation and God
Imposed our beliefs
yeah cause their better than yours
don't you know it?
perfectioned our weapons
but we still need more
to balance our peace
we're selling you war
can you afford it?"

You just have to listen to that song, it's poetic.  Days when I would listen to NPR driving into work and be in awe at the state of the world (a congress that won't budge, chemical warfare in Syria, terrorists taking over a mall in Kenya, the list goes on and on)... anyways, I would turn off the radio and put this album and jam out to this song singing so hard!  I love it!

Do yourself a favor and check out Lou Doillon, a true talent!


3.

She & Him: Volume 3

What can Zooey Deschanel do wrong?  I love this lady!  Her sugary sweet touch of old fashion sounding tunes are just what I need to get me swaying in my chair at work!  Let me start with her and M. Ward's remake of "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"... I adore this song to begin with, it always reminds me of my mom from when I was a little girl.  They master this song, they own it.  It's sooooo good!

Other songs that I love on this goodie:

"I've got your number son"
"Never wanted your love"
"Baby"
"Somebody Sweet to talk to"
"Sunday Girl"
"London"

Heck, they're all fun!  BUY this album now!


And in the grand tradition of last year here are some honorable mentions (surprisingly even though some of my favorite male artists came out with albums this past year... Jay Nash & Amos Lee, this year really is all about the girls)!!!  Here are the honorable mentions...


Laura Marling: Once I Was An Eagle

I love this album if not solely just because it knocked that damn Ed Sheeran off the top of the singer-songwriter charts for a brief moment in time.  Just kidding.  That aside, no one who has ever heard Laura Marling can deny that she is this generation's Bob Dylan.  A brilliant singer-songwriter.  I had the pleasure of seeing her this year perform in an old church and she is phenomenal!  Awkward, but amazing!  Here is an artsy video she made of the first 4 songs on the album:

http://youtu.be/R7eRrTKmYO0

My favorite song on this album:  "Saved these Words"
When she sings the following line, man, do I really get down in my volvo station wagon (lol):

"Should you choose
should you choose
to love anyone
anytime soon
then I save these words for you
you weren't my curse
you weren't my curse
thank you naivety
for failing me again
he was my next verse"


Carla Bruni: Little French Songs

Perfect for a bubble bath!  Enough said!

And lastly...

HAIM: Days Are Gone

Sure I'm not hip and cool and I have no idea how to say their name, but the only thing you need to know is these girls are hip and cool and this album will rock your socks off at the gym!


Now onto books...


1.

Elizabeth Gilbert:  The Signature of All Things

Just when you think one of your favorite authors has wrote their best book ever and will never be able to top it: they do!  Am I saying this book is better than my oh so beloved Eat, Pray, Love?  No, I'm just saying it's equally good in a totally different way!  Gilbert switches gears here and goes back to Fiction, something she's done before.  But this is Historical Fiction (one of my favorite genres) and she rocks it!!! Who would have ever thought a book about a botanist in pre-Civil War America would be so fascinating?!?!?!?  And to top it off the botanist is obsessed with moss (for those who don't know, I adore moss)!  The character Alma stays with you long after you've read the last page.  I don't want to give any of the story away, but read this book! If someone asks you what you want for the holidays... this is what you need to tell them you need in your life!

I had the pleasure of meeting this extremely personable author this year, she was so kind and signed all my books (I looked like a super fan extraordinaire... but a safe one, not a crazy)!



2.

Wally Lamb: We Are Water

What a delicious book!  I love this author!  I love how he sucks you into his stories so that all you want to do is hole up in your home and read every last page... no distractions.  The only thing that makes me sad when I finish one of his books is that I will have so long to wait before another one comes out!  This story takes place in America in the Obama era, and addresses a huge topic: Marriage Equality.  But it doesn't stop there: depression, love, incest, a flood, this book covers it all.  This book is so nicely done, I just adore it! 

I also got to see this author this year (for my second time ever).  Wally Lamb is just the most adorable man, so warm.  Who couldn't love an author and a book where the author signs:


Love Wins!  What an awesome message, what an awesome book!


3.

The Circle: Dave Eggers

If you actually follow this blog you will know that I hold Eggers up there in the same light that I hold Liz Gilbert in. They are my faves, so naturally he is going to make the list.  This book is a technology thriller, and in the spirit of a year when we find out the NSA has been listening to our phone calls, and social media just keeps expanding, and being plugged in to everyone and everything at all times is more and more the norm; I found myself routing for the main character to rage against the machine! Whether she does or not that is up to you to find out by reading this book.  If you do read the book, let's discuss!


And the honorable mention goes to...


Khaled Hosseini: And the Mountains Echoed

Not as good as his first two books, but he is a master storyteller, so even when he is not at his best he is still light years ahead of other writers.  This time he takes multiple characters and tells all their stories individually and you see how they are all connected.  Another powerful book under his belt, I can't wait for the next one!


Well, that's it!  What are some of your favorite books or albums from this year?