50. Horse Feathers – Cynics New Year – Justin Ringle and his angelic voice touches us again this year with Cynics New Year, yet again another quiet but enchanting record of subtle string folk and Ringle’s superbly mellow, rainy day voice coupled with poetic songwriting spanning the sonic space similar to an open field on a gray wet day. Cynic’s New Year shines on tracks, The Last Waltz, Where I’ll Be & Fit For the Country.
Listen: Horse Feathers – Where I’ll Be| Buy: Cynic’s New Year
49. Hip Hatchet – Joy & Better Days – Hip Hatchet is the songwriting project of Philippe Bronchtein. Bronchtein released a wonderful record this year titled Joy and Better Days that everybody should be listening to. His contemplative and telling songwriting can be haunting, and emotive. The album chronicles Bronchtein’s relocation across the country in 12 wonderful songs of longing and a peering into what is past. Bronchtein’s voice is warm, inviting, and a joy to hear.
Listen: Hip Hatchet – Sing Me a Reprise | Buy: Joy & Better Days
48. Kalispell – Westbound – Kalispell has an ambient minimalist folk sound that feels beautifully composed and a total treat to explore. I say explore because that’s the way you’ve got to listen to this, there are so many layers of distant sounds, ambients, subtle vocals, and timeless banjos, pedal steel, and even a string quartet. Not withstanding the link to Bon Iver and Field Report, this is a great record on its own.
Listen: Kalispell – Methodist Lift | Buy: Buy Westbound
47. Prairie Empire – Self Titled – Prairie Empire created their starkly sparse, beautifully arranged album employing Ashford’s delicate voice that weaves around a chorus of strings and horns that will leave goosebumps on this listener’s arms. The decidedly chamber-folk sound persists throughout the album, with each instrument and background vocal blending perfectly to the singer’s stories of seasons changing and hopeless love.
Listen: Prairie Empire – Snow | Buy: Prairie Empire
46. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Look Out Mama – Hailing from the musical city of New Orleans, Hurray for the Riff Raff released a record that successfully puts together a lot of musical influence all wrapped into a tightly woven package that is full of songs you’ll be reaching for the repeat button on. The country folk basis only acts as a shell, for the southern folk, doo-wop, and even a bit of rockabilly in the music, check out “Ode to John and Yoko” a love letter to John and Yoko.
Listen: Hurray for the Riff Raff – Ode To John And Yoko | Buy: Look Out Mama