Best Irish albums of the year
It was an especially good year for Irish albums and the judges of the Choice Music Prize will have their work cut out for them.
Several of the albums in my ‘bubbling under’ category below would have been top 10 certs in a normal year.
1. Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy
The Celbridge native took eight years to release this album and, boy, did he deliver the goods. A sumptuous, eight-track collection, it’s all about letting songs unfurl at their own leisurely pace. There’s real craft here – whether it’s on the self-loathing ‘The Box’ or the rousing torch song ‘Trusty and True’.
2. The Gloaming – The Gloaming
A quite extraordinary trad album that fuses old and new ideas, it is packed with intricate arrangements and stirring flights of fancy.
3. James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
In a fine year for Irish singer-songwriters, McMorrow sparkled with a follow-up album that was even more consistent than his illustrious debut.
4. Sinead O’Connor – I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss
After a mid-career slump, the forthright Dubliner returned with her second stunning second album in the row. Great tunes, and no shortage of sass.
5. Delorentos – Night Becomes Light
Another collection of gorgeously crafted, heart-on-sleeve songs from a band who deserve to be so much bigger.
6. Adrian Crowley – Some Blue Morning
Some musicians follow trends, others – like this gifted Galwegian – their true calling. Album number six requires your time and attention, but it’s so worth it.
7. Hozier – Hozier
Hozier’s single ‘Take Me to Church’ was the most streamed of ’14 and there was plenty more where that came from on this highly accomplished debut.
8. A Lazarus Soul – Last of the Analogue Age
A Dublin album through and through as Brian Branigan and friends weave story-songs to touch your heart. These robust compositions will endure.
9. Tim Wheeler – Lost Domain
Ostensibly about the death of his father the Ash frontman’s solo debut is also about father-son relationships and a celebration of life. Hooks aplenty, too.
10. Lethal Dialect – 1988
Some snigger at the thoughts of Irish rap, but this visceral offering will wipe the smile off your face. Raw and real and featuring the superb vocals of Jessica Kavanagh.
11. Ginnels – A Country Life
12. U2 – Songs of Innocence
13. We Cut Corners – Think Nothing
14. Shit Robot – We Got A Love
15. Alien Envoy – Loads
16. Jennifer Evans – Works from the Dip and Foul
17. Printer Clips – Printer Clips
18. Wallis Bird – Architect
19. Daithi – In Flight
20. Raglans – Raglans