1. Jon Brooks – The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside (2015, Borealis Records)
jonbrooks200Jon Brook’s 2012 album ”Delicate Cages” focused on themes of love and fear; and freedom and imprisonment. For the follow up, “The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside”, Jon turned his cynical eye on contemporary North American society in a world gone mad to produce an album of murder ballads the like of which you may never hear again – and one that gives up more and more with each listen. It was easy to make this my favourite album of the year. I should add that Jon is absolutely fabulous live – I saw him three times this year, playing solo – just songs and anecdotes accompanied by his beatbox looping acoustic guitar, and he’s brilliant! It should be on everyone’s wish list to attend a Jon Brooks show. And yes, all the songs on this album are even better live.