The No Depression Community's Top 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

The past year has been interesting in the Americana and indie roots music realm. Mainstream pop and country music, for example, made stars out of artists like Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, and the Lone Bellow, but you'll see below that those artists were also heavily embraced by the ND community. Reliable favorites and giants of the genre - Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Richard Thompson, Mavis Staples, the Mavericks, Patty Griffin - all delivered exquisite work this year. But there was also a lot of starting over, with Kelly Willis returning after a long hiatus from recording. Aoife O'Donovan broke from Crooked Still for a solo debut that settled easily into the ND community's Top 20. And, of course, plenty has already been said on this site about former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell's Southeastern - the disc ND readers delivered by landslide into this year's #1 slot. 

It's worth noting that the 50 albums included in this year's list had some stiff competition. A total of 414 albums received votes this year (you can see all the votes here) including excellent efforts by outstanding artists of all genres - from Nick Lowe to Sara Bareilles; Shooter Jennings to Gregory Alan Isakov; Boz Scaggs to the National, Dylan, Mellencamp, and even Jimmy Buffett. But, when all the votes were tallied, the following albums came out as the No Depression Community's Top 50 Favorite Albums of 2013:

  1. Jason Isbell - Southeastern
  2. Patty Grifin - American Kid
  3. Holly Williams - The Highway
  4. Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison - Cheater's Game
  5. Richard Thompson - Electric
  6. Son Volt - Honky Tonk
  7. Willie Sugarcapps - S/T
  8. Robbie Fulks - Gone Away Backward
  9. Steve Earle - The Low Highway
  10. The Mavericks - In Time
  11. Aoife O'Donovan - Fossils
  12. Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You
  13. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park
  14. Amanda Shires - Down Fell the Doves
  15. Phosphorescent - Muchacho
  16. Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - Old Yellow Moon
  17. Mavis Staples - One True Vine
  18. Brandy Clark - 12 Stories
  19. Slaid Cleaves - Still Fighting the War
  20. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Made up Mind
  21. Caitlin Rose - The Stand-In
  22. Valerie June - Pushin' Against Stone
  23. Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle
  24. North Mississippi All-Stars - World Boogie is Coming
  25. Sarah Jarosz - Build Me Up from Bones
  26. Dawes - Stories Don't End
  27. The Avett Brothers - Magpie & the Dandelion
  28. Sam Baker - Say Grace
  29. Lindi Ortega - Tin Star
  30. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
  31. John Moreland - In the Throes
  32. Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight. The Harder I fight, The More I Love You
  33. The Milk Carton Kids - The Ash & Clay
  34. Ashley Monroe - Like a Rose
  35. Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain
  36. Willie Nile - American Ride
  37. The Black Lillies - Runaway Freeway Blues
  38. Beth Hart - Bang Bang Boom Boom
  39. John Murry - The Graceless Age
  40. John Fogerty - Wrote a Song for Everyone
  41. Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott - Memories and Moments
  42. The Lone Bellow - S/T
  43. Daniel Romano - Come Cry With Me
  44. Preservation Hall Jazz Band - That's It
  45. Deer Tick - Negativity
  46. Israel Nash Gripka - Rain Plans
  47. Joe Bonamassa & Beth Hart - Seesaw
  48. Jonathan Wilson - Fanfare
  49. Bill Callahan - Dream River
  50. (tie) Alela Diane - About Farewell / The Civil Wars - S/T


In the interest of honoring our most frequently featured bloggers, we also took a separate poll to compile this critics' list. Granted, many of our frequently featured bloggers aren't professional critics. They make their actual living doing anything from teaching college to running radio shows. But the folks who contributed to this list have displayed consistently excellent taste and contribute to this site with great regularity. If you've ever come by here just to graze our front page, chances are you've interacted with something they've written.

Our ND Featured Bloggers voted for a total of 216 different albums this year, but we narrowed their votes down to a simple Top 10. Our deepest thanks to the following folks for participating in this year's Bloggers' Poll: Alan Harrison, Amos Perrine, April Wolfe, Twang Nation, Barry Gilbert, Freight Train Boogie, Bill Kopp, Doug Heselgrave, Easy Ed, Frank Gutch Jr, Gillian Turnbull, big boy, Hal Bogerd, Henry Carrigan, Holly Gleason, Jay Minkin, Jela Webb, Music JJMG, Joanna Colangelo, Joe Lepper, Julie Wenger Watson, Justin Wesley, Kathy Sands Boehmer, Kevin Lynch, Kim Ruehl, Kyla Fairchild, Lee Zimmerman, Michael Berick, Mike Seely, Neil Ferguson, Ryan Mifflin, Ryan's Father, Skot Nelson, and Sloane Spencer.

Now, for the ND Featured Bloggers Top 10 Albums of 2013:

  1. Jason Isbell - Southeastern
  2. Patty Griffin - American Kid
  3. Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You
  4. Brandy Clark - 12 Stories
  5. Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison - Cheater's Game
  6. Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - Old Yellow Moon
  7. Holly Williams - The Highway
  8. Neko Case - The Worse Things Get…
  9. Phosphorescent - Muchacho
  10. Milk Carton Kids - The Ash & Clay

(You can read their individual lists here, and decide which of our featured bloggers have tastes that mirror your own.)

Thank you to everyone who participated in these polls this year, especially Sloane Spencer, Hal Bogerd, Kathy Sands Boehmer, Alan Harrison, Henry Carrigan, Julia Wenger Watson, Skot Nelson, and Gillian Turnbull, who all volunteered to help us tally. We'd also like to thank you, our readers and the members of this site, for making 2013 such a fun and vibrant year here on No Depression. We'd like to wish you all Happy Holidays and the best of luck in 2014!

-Kyla, Kim, and Stacy

Views: 19194

Comment by No Depression on December 26, 2013 at 10:00am

All the individual votes that were used to come up with the top 50 list, along with the mentions that weren't counted, can be seen HERE on the readers poll blog.

Comment by Bill Dierolf on December 26, 2013 at 10:29am

I would have liked to have seen a breakdown of points vs. mentions for both polls. It seems, except for Neko Case (8 vs. 32) and the Milk Carton Kids (10 vs. 33), the readers and bloggers are in agreement. I completely missed Son Volt ,Willie Sugarcapps, and Aiofe O'Donavan. It will be fun catching up in the new year.

Also, Jim Lauderdale released 3 albums in December and no matter how great they may turn out to be they won't be eligible next year.

Comment by Jim McGuinness on December 26, 2013 at 3:15pm

Shed no tears for Lauderdale. He has another album coming out in the spring, with backing by Nick Lowe's band. So he'll at least have something eligible.

Comment by Alan Harrison on December 26, 2013 at 3:19pm

Yet again the ND readers and writers have compiled an amazingly eclectic Top  50 albums from 2013. It was quite obvious Jason Isbell was going to be the deserved #1 but who would have guessed Patty Griffin would finish 2nd and Holly Williams #3? 

      For me both charts reflect why I love No Depression - every genre of Roots music appears to be reflected from Millionaire stars through to artists who have to self-finance but still make music that can now  reach an International audience  via these pages. I salute everyone who contributed to these charts and I have to send a huge cyber-hug to Kim and Kyla for their staunch work all year enabling us to discover music that could and would otherwise go unnoticed. Happy New Year. 

Comment by garry on December 26, 2013 at 5:32pm

As ever, year-end list time is my fave time of year to read No Dep, whether on paper in the past, or on the web now.  And although I have both strong agreements, and disagreements, with some of the album choices, overall No Dep continues to reflect my own musical tastes more closely than just about any other poll I read.  Great job, folks!  May 2014 be another fine year for new music.


Comment by Tommie Staccato on December 27, 2013 at 4:58am

No Lee Harvey Osmond nor Bobby Bare, in either list; strange !

Comment by crusadercob on December 27, 2013 at 8:48am

Very enjoyable to view the choices

Some oversights though. Marshall Chapman's "Blaze Of Glory," my choice for one of the the best of the year. Don't let this one pass you by.

Also, Sam Phillips' "Push any Button" or Duke Garwood and Mark Lanegan's " Black Pudding."   Check them out listeners.

Comment by declan culliton on December 27, 2013 at 9:56am
Kim, I note that you have the same exquisite music tastes as myself voting Jason Isbell and Aoife O Donovan at No.1 & No.2! Saw both live in 2013 and their gigs would be in my top five for certain
Comment by doug heselgrave on December 27, 2013 at 10:53am

Lee Harvey Osmond was on my list - but his latest CD came out in 2012

Comment by Tommie Staccato on December 27, 2013 at 11:07am

is it that long ago then - methought it was early this year ! Bare's Farewell Angelina - + Rising Son and Shenandoah - noone's mentionned !


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.