Albums of the year: Rock, folk and Americana

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The Independent Culture

I was not chuffed to be asked to review Elton John's joint effort with Leon Russell The Union, not having liked John since Honky Château. Glad I said yes, though. Unexpected pleasure is the most ardent of all the joys. Then, in a good year for venerable pianists, Jerry Lee Lewis's people stirred themselves to rope in a few young things to help The Killer rock the living daylights out of his dying embers for Mean Old Man.

But the album I played most this year? It's a toss-up between two. Justin Townes Earle's Harlem River Blues was a blue-country-gospel-rockabilly-grunge album with soulful horns and it fair near broke my heart through summer and autumn. To combat the effect of that, I'd dose myself up with Jim Moray's excellent antidote, In Modern History, which breezily dresses up English folk like serious pop music.

Laura Marling's I Speak Because I Can was a good record, too, but I stopped playing it soon after deciding she was still a work in progress. Caitlin Rose's Own Side Now had enough life in it for any man. Otherwise, much pleasure was got from Richard Thompson's Dream Attic, Elizabeth Cook's Welder, Laura Veirs' July Flame, Belshazzar's Feast's Find the Lady and Marty Stuart's Ghost Train.