Favorite Album of the Year . . .

First I told you my favorite song of the year and then my favorite food. Today . . . my favorite ALBUM (as I see it the album is something where the entire collection of music, as packaged and distributed by the artist).

My favorite album this year is, clear and away, Missy Higgins' "OZ".

The album, which was released in September, is really very different. Every track feels like a single (yes, I am one of those people that likes to think I know what songs could stand alone and which could not) but I didn't recognize any of them directly and I found out - weeks after falling in love with it - why . . . the whole album (the Australian Higgins' fifth) is a collection of her doing remakes of hits by other Australian artists.

I have enjoyed Higgins and her music for about seven years. Her 2007 release "On a Clear Night" - made of original content - is also wonderful. If you have never heard Higgins sing she is, for me, a mixture of Sara Bareilles, Sheryl Crow (old school Crow), Norah Jones, KT Tunstall, and a more mature, seasoned Mary Lambert and another favorite of mine, Jann Arden.

This album, for me, is wonderful for driving around, working, running errands, playing board games and chatting with friends, or trying to relax after a long day. The final track, a cover of Don Walker's "The Way You Look Tonight" is splendid. That is the only word for it. SPLENDID.

Check out the album and it will likely, as it did for me, make you wonder what other great music from "Down Under" you are missing out on.

Honorable mention to . . .

Sam Smith's "In the Lonely Hour". As of early-September this was easily my favorite album of the year and Mr. Smith will likely walk away with several GRAMMYs for the effort. Smith is very young but has a wonderful set of pipes and a unique sound that will likely afford him a long and fruitful career.

Luluc's "Passerby". This album was sorta released in 2013, sorta 2014 but I didn't discover it until this year. Adjectives like "sparse" and "gentle" have been heaped all over it but I would like to describe it as The Civil Wars (sadly they officially called it quits this year) and Peter, Paul, and Mary and even Simon and Garfunkel meets the Yankee Candle store. It is a wonderful album that I have listened while typing out dozens and dozens of 2014 blog posts.

The Gloaming's "The Gloaming". Every damp, dreary, Irish day ever had compressed in to about 45 minutes of beautiful, sad, and hopeful  music. Give it a listen. Or ten.

Taylor Swift's "1989". I have disliked (hated?) Ms. Swift for as long as I can remember. Her music always seemed whiny and her "woe is me" romantic angst creeping in to her music always bugged the crap out of me. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I stood in Best Buy for over an hour to buy the CD on Thanksgiving so the kid and I could listen to it all the way to Kansas City the next morning. And by the "kid and I" I mean . . . well . . . ME. It is fantastic, insipid, indefensible, unbelievably catchy pop music.