It's been a great year for surprises in my musical world. I've got a couple of albums by the band Richmond Fontaine but I never expected an album this good to come out of their camp this year. If you haven't heard Richond Fontaine - they are worth investigating for the songwriting skills of their vocalist/guitar player -Willy Vlautin who is also a published author.
Richmond Fontaine are now 9 studio albums into their career and their album The High Country was their last release in 2011 - It's a concept album about a doomed love affair - it is quite dark and brooding, not an easy listen but an ultimately rewarding one.
This year, Willy Vlautin has reappeared with a new band and a great album of Country Soul Rock. The band is The Delines and the album is Colfax.
Fronted by the amazing vocalist Amy Boone of the band The Damnations, it is probably the best album that Willy has written and been involved with.
Colfax opens with the smoldering Calling In which is a great signpost for the rest of the album. A gentle, atmospheric opener which is based around simple electric guitar and keyboard washes and showcases Amy's excellent vocals. It's almost a torch song.
The soulful sound that is based around frequently simple electric guitar and keyboard is heard on the next track Colfax Avenue.
A majority of the album reads like a confessional, soulful and heartbreaking. The stately pace fitting the songs and production perfectly - keeping it simple and letting the songs breathe.
Quite often the album brings to mind the more yearning moments of Maria McKee
Uncut magazine have produced the closest review to what I hear in the album - so I'll leave it to the professionals to elaborate further. It also contains a small interview with Willy Vlautin.
It's not all doom and gloom though, the uptempo and soulful Wichita Ain't So Far Away lifts the album midway with some gorgeous pedal steel accompaniment.
One fantastic surprise is the band's version of the Randy Newman lullaby with just Amy and piano, Sandman's Coming.
COLFAX could well be my album of 2014 - it's a close thing this year but at the moment it's right up there - so go ahead and purchase it with confidence and be as enchanted as I am.
Twitter - @TheDelines