Imogen Heap released a new album this year. She is some kind of wicked cross between Kate Bush and Brian Wilson, delivering melodic, beautifully arranged but outside-the-box songs that seem both other-worldly and completely accessible. An amazing talent.
Don't think I listened to too much else that was released this year. Did find myself really enjoying previously released but recent works by The Civil Wars, Alan Doyle's first solo album Boy on Bridge, and Mark Knopfler's Privateering (although I frequently listen to just about anything he has done). Really hoping Knopfler will tour North America in 2015. Feist, Great Big Sea, Fleet Foxes, Kathleen Edwards (who has left the music biz to open a coffee shop in Ottawa!?), Lucy Wainwright, Jackson Browne, Kacey Musgraves, Lisa Hannigan, Marshall Crenshaw and Ruth Moody pretty much round out what I can remember listening to regularly.
We saw Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt at Massey Hall early in the year. An amusing, complementary pairing, and a lesson in how to turn a 2500 seat hall into a living room. Paul Simon and Sting were interesting co-headliners and brought fantastic musicianship to the ACC. Checked in with the Dave Matthews Band at the amphitheatre again this year - a band that always delivers and features consummate players. Alan Doyle (ex Great Big Sea) was magical at the winery amphitheatre in Niagara and has put together a crackerjack band. Can't wait to see him on tour in 2015. James Taylor delivered a typically reliable, musically satisfying concert at the amphitheatre. And the wonderful Steve Forbert returned to Hugh's Room, relaxed and rocking, a rollicking singer/songwriter performing beautifully crafted songs, solo, with his weird guitar stylings and fab harmonica accompaniment. Stopped by the Rex a few times too, to see our friend John Cheesman with his jazz orchestra. They're there about once a month and anyone we've ever convinced to go see them has come away with a big smile on their face. They've started recording so here's hoping John is able to release his first album sometime in 2015.
As for OSB, although we added a keyboard player we seem to be losing momentum. All but given up on club or pub gigs, but continue to play milestone events for friends and family and did a couple of shows at the lovely Relish restaurant, along with a couple of benefit appearances: the annual Lula Lounge show (moving to the Rivoli in 2015); and, in a first for the band, an 1100 seat theatre show, headlined by Rita Chiarelli and Poor Angus, that had us scratching our heads and wondering "how did we get this gig?!". I've also been slogging away on a songwriting retrospective, rerecording and remixing songs from the last 40 years; and although it stalled out in 2014 I'm still optimistic OSB will finish the album we started a few years ago. So there may be some new (and old) stuff released in 2015. Stay tuned, and in the meantime get out to see some music. Highly recommend the Dakota, Relish, Hugh's Room and the Moonshine Cafe in Oakville as good rooms for intimate live shows.