Top 100 Songs of 2014 (10-1)

Before I issue the final songs on my Top 100 Songs of 2014 list, I’m going to share what are probably my two favourite photos/pictures of 2014.

The first is: of opposition, incendiary, provocative, a stand against the man, and completely, wholly necessary.

Ferguson, Missouri. By Koda Cohen.

Ferguson, Missouri. By Koda Cohen.

The second is: of possibilities, a fusion, of nature and art, of nurture to start. It’s breaths of colour. It’s the exhalation of imagination. It is air.

A time lapse of 1000 sunsets. Somewhere in the vastness, this is what the sky looks like, where Van Gogh paints the night, Monet authors the day.

A time lapse of 1000 sunsets. Somewhere in the vastness, this is what the sky looks like, where Van Gogh paints the night, Monet authors the day.

The music, the words, the feels:

10. Future Islands – Song For Our Grandfathers/Seasons (Waiting On You)/Spirit/Back In The Tall Grass

A couple publications ranked “Seasons (Waiting On You)” as their song of the year. This made me beam.

I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a band like I’ve rooted for Future Islands. I told whomever I could about this utterly compelling 3-piece, that the way they perform and create music is unlike any other band on the planet. They’re the type of artists who deserve all the accolades, plaudits, and successes that come to them. It’s no secret they’ve worked their asses off to get where they are now.

Which is where? In a pretty good spot, I’d say. A lot more people know about them now than did last year, and that’s an amazing achievement, accomplished in large part due to their jaw-dropping, balls-to-the-wall performance of “Seasons” on Letterman, a performance that was so engaging, it at once had Dave shook, in awe and tatters. “I’ll take all of that you got.” Dave was so smitten he couldn’t even speak properly. (I’ve chosen to include this live performance in lieu of the record version because, well, obviously.)

They also took a leap because of the strength of “Seasons”, the song.

But for as much as I love “Seasons” — it’s an awesome addition to their catalogue, compelling in myriad ways — it wasn’t the hands-down best song on the record like many seem to think it is. There are three other songs from Singles that I think should have a light shone on them just as much. Those tunes are: “Song For Our Grandfathers”, “Spirit”, and “Back In The Tall Grass”.

“Song For Our Grandfathers” is the beating heart of the entire record. It’s quite possibly the most touching song Future Islands have ever done.  It’s a brave reflection on growing up, pursuing passions, remembering the importance of family and friends. The sound of crickets that opens the song serves as a notice that this is home. This is the porch. We talk, think, laugh. We’re hopeful. We’re thankful.

“Spirit” is the ghost that teases, prances, and dances with the listener. Williams Cashion’s bass is a fucking marvel here. It also has my favourite lyric on the record, “Don’t cast away, don’t cast away, don’t let them cast a role for you.” Though it’s the second track on Singles (“Seasons” opens), I feel like “Spirit” is the statement of intent. It tells you you’re going to dance, sweat, and sing something new. “Spirit” guides. What an adventure.

“Back In The Tall Grass” is comfort: of the record, of home. It’s country bliss, an ode to the worthwhile things that we miss. William Cashion’s bass is the teflon-strong support. When Gerrit Welmers’ synths’ join the fray, it deliciously accentuates the play. This is one of the best dance-inspiring tracks the boys have done.

“Cause we’re a long way from home,” Sam says. “How did we get here?”

I know exactly how. With these four songs, Sam, Gerrit, and William have given us the map.


9. GRL – Ugly Heart

The song that grew and grew. I played it so much I thought it could be the best pop song of the year. It very well could be. It could also be as good as the triumvirate that follows, but as it stands, I think it’s a pretty big thing for a song to crack my top 10, so I won’t pick nits.

The innumerable hooks and magnificent melody kept me coming back, found me liking the song more and more every time. And fair or not, I gave this song more time after group member Simone Battle committed suicide. Perhaps I saw the song and the group in a different light. However it came to be, there’s no denying what it is: an undeniable earworm, a gorgeous pop song.


8. Taylor Swift – Shake It Off/Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat/Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High)

I think these are the three best (pure) pop songs of the year. In a year where pop was a truly dominant force, this triptych of brobdingnagian tunes rose above the rest. And though I could’ve given each song its own place on the list, I don’t think I can say which one I like best, so the prudent thing to do is introduce them as bff’s and hope they’re okay with the commitment.

I’ve already mentioned that Taylor Swift’s had an incredible run of hits over the past few years. “Shake It Off” is the best of them I do believe. It’s the most ubiquitous anyway, and that’s saying a lot. I like the other two songs I’ve linked with this one just as much, but if the earth were invaded by an alien race of blood-sucking, destruction-seeking pop ditties, this is the song that’d be asked to defend our planet. And I think it’d help us stand a really good chance of winning.

Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat” was a grower. When that beat drops, I lose so much shit I crop all my tops. It’s not ideal during the winter, but really, the frostbite-inducing affair is out of my control. There’s a call-and-answer synth base here that I absolutely adore (kudos producer Joel Little, you sir are one crafty Kiwi). Another reason I think this song is dope as fuck? If you cut Lorde’s vocals and only the track remains, it reveals a big-brass-balls hip-hop banger.

Oh Sweden. I think I’ve said that at least 63 times in 2014, but it bears repeating, as for my money, Tove Lo’s “Habits” is Sweden’s best musical export of 2014. It’s been overplayed, yes, but I haven’t gotten tired of it. It’s probably the chorus. That immense, addictive, Swedish berry of a chorus. Wooh-ooh-oo-oooh, wooh-ooh-oo-oooh. Forever, to infinity and beyond.


7. Jessie Ware – Tough Love

“Tough Love” is a sensational song. But it’s so much more…

It’s sexy, lovely, deliriously challenging and effortlessly divine.

It’s a disorienting discourse where feelings mingle with action, seduction flirts with regret, anticipation skirts what’s left.

It’s the recognition of what love means and what love has done. The moment when that brutal, punishing truth socks you right in the mouth. Pow. It grips your heart, forcing your ventricles back to back. Fear. Shock. They don’t know what’s gripping them. So tight. Breathing becomes an impossibility. No air. Survival is the only focus. But how?

That’s called tough love.


Bonus: Sam Smith – Nirvana

“Nirvana” was released in 2013, but I didn’t really hear it until 2014. If it was from ’14, this is the area I’d place it in. It’s a mesmeric piece of magic. I think Sam Smith will have a long, distinguished, and possibly legendary career. And I don’t think he’ll ever have a better song than this one.


6. Manchester Orchestra – Trees (Cope)/See It Again (Hope)

“Trees” (from the first record they released in 2014, Cope) is the rock song of the year. I said it when I listed it as my song of the month for May, and I say it again because it’s proven an inescapable truth.

It’s that riff. That fucking wall and plaster and stone and foundation shattering riff. That attention to melody and rock out to the point of felony. Those insurmountable mountains of hooks. Those shadow stealing nooks. And that unexpected, boulder-thrashing part of the chorus at 1:15, ensuring victory for this head-rattling, inertia-repelling champion.

“See It Again” (from the second record they released in 2014, Hope) is a Gregorian chant. Yet it’s a modern, acoustic masterpiece at the same time. It’s those incomparable, inimitable harmonies. It’s unlike anything else on the brilliant re-imagination, Hope. It’s unlike anything else I’ve heard in music.

And it’s Andy Hull’s soul-piercing words. It’s this:

“When you got out of your car, you stopped yourself and thought about, how unreliable my God had turned out. You found a reason while you forced the lock and key, like a reset in your mind, a different human being. And you’re never gonna see it again, no you’re never gonna see it again…

There were drawings on your wall of places nobody could see. And the congregation heard that you had been anointed. Not knowing a single thing, we gathered here to see, are you actually the son of God? Our overdue relief? Are we ever gonna see him again? Are we ever gonna see…

That all the money didn’t matter, man the money’s always plagued. With cautious indecision trying to choose a life to trace. It’s faith that has the price tag, from your face down to your soul. Its cost is in the time you spend just wondering where you’ll go. Are we ever gonna see him again? Are we ever gonna see…”


5. Broods – Bridges/Mother and Father

There are a shit tonne of bands trying to make a mark doing celestial, exquisite synth-pop. Some do a piss poor job of it. Some do a good job of it. And then some make the most ethereal, most sublime synth-pop in the world. Actually, there’s just one band who did that in 2014. They’re called Broods.

Why is “Bridges” special? The chorus. A chorus as beautiful as any other in 2014. And those synthesizers. Those pleading, desperate, coalescing synthesizers. It’s Georgia Nott’s lilting, immaculate, angelic vocals. It’s Caleb Nott’s sky-shaking track. It’s buoyed by bass. It’s the steady, throbbing, pace. All of it, grace.

Why is “Mother and Father” special? The tone. Those lyrics. And those kissing, purring synthesizers. Musically, what I think sets Broods apart from their contemporaries is how their alluring, vivid, siren-like vocals and melodies are juxtaposed with heavy, pounding drums. It’s a neat trick, and one that producer Joel Little (Kiwis taking over!) uses to wonderfully hypnotizing effect. And have I mentioned Georgia Nott’s radiant voice? Yes, I think I have. But it needs to be reiterated. Perhaps then it’ll agree to be the guardian of my musical galaxy. When I revisit this list down the road, #5 might not be high enough for this gorgeous work of art.

“Mother and Father” is an ode to the familial, an appeal to the familiar, a hope to never forget what’s important in this life. A simple message. A resplendent, resounding success.


4. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

It’s the preposterously catchy music. The beck-and-call swagger where the bass and drums skip-to-my-lou, dosey doe with the hook-infested guitars. The rhythm section of the song really is a no-sweat triumph.

It’s Laura Jane’s awesome, powerhouse vocal. Her scintillating, sing-yell jabs are a boxer’s delight, a punk prophecy, a listener’s dream.

And those lyrics. Those brilliant, searing, propulsive, love-demanding, heart-on-your-sleeve, storytelling lyrics:

Your tells are so obvious
Shoulders too broad for a girl
Keeps you reminded
Helps you to remember where
You come from

You want them to notice
The ragged ends of your summer dress
You want them to see you
Like they see every other girl
They just see a faggot
They hold their breath not to catch the sick
Rough surf on the coast,
Wish I could have spent the
Whole day alone with you

You’ve got no cunt in your strut
You’ve got no hips to shake
And you know it’s obvious
But we can’t choose how we’re made…

— Laura Jane Grace


3. Maximo Park – Leave This Island

I played this song over and over again in 2014. It might not do to others what it did to me. What it still does to me. What does it do to me?

It exhilarates: my pulse, my feet, my love of music.

It exacerbates: my eyes, my longing, my trove of treasures.

It melts: ice, caverns carved of distance, my beating heart.

I adore the bubbling synthesizer base. Paul Smith’s reserved vocal. The beseeching background vocals.

The song is like a slow, assuring current taking water to where it’s needed most, the island. There is consistency, stability in the rising and receding tide. Water caresses the sand for a moment, and a whooshing, cushioning foam lingers a little longer to promise its return. Nature’s law dictates that water must leave this island. But it also decrees that it will be back.


2. alt-J – Bloodflood Pt. 2

I shed tears when I heard this song.

I could write many, many words describing what the song did to me, what it does to me. I could issue analogues aplenty. I could blah and blah and blah some more.

But I want to let this song speak for itself…


1. Manchester Orchestra – Trees (Hope)

“It’s okay to lose a limb, when they get too heavy.”

The lyric of the year for me. For several reasons, it speaks volumes to me. It soothes me. It checks me. It ignites a fire. And yet more…

“I used to feel some guilt,

now I just feel empty.

I wasn’t supposed to bend,

at least not this quickly.”

— Andy Hull. My fucking god, Andy Hull. I think he might have the most powerful voice in rock music. He’s offered it time and time again. He displayed the gale force dynamism of his talent on Cope. But more eerily, more tenderly, more beautifully, he showed it on Hope.

The music is stunning. I am transfixed by the first second of it until the last. It’s cautious but considered, breathed to life by Andy Hull’s voice, a chilling piano, a guarded, deliberate keyboard, and gloomy, lingering strings.

It’s the most mesmerizing song of the year. The most haunting. The truest.

Yet it demands I consider: what is truth?

Truth hurts. Truth is pain. Truth is revelatory. Truth “feels right.”

Is that it?

Is truth a spider web, where honesty is the spider silk and lies are the holes through which nature circumnavigates?

Is truth a vaccine, where morality is the needle and guilt is the medicine?

Is truth even useful when its definition is inherently arbitrary? It’s a concept willed from an elusive, transient inheritance. It’s a form of payment given automatically by many, many who never think to check how it affects their monthly balance. It’s a code. A flammable construction prone to explode. Haphazardly built, likely to implode.

Truth is all of these things.

A necessity, a part of something bigger.

A limb of a tree or of you or of me.

Is it okay to lose it if it gets too heavy?

Top 100 Songs of 2014 (25-11)


When the opportunity arises, will you be ready to snap that pic quickfast? #2014 #QuickOnTheDraw

Why did the chicken cross the road? Cause 2014 was a bitch and eggs don’t pay rent like they used to. #TheOnePercentAintChickensBrother #Yolk #Protein #MorningWalks #HealthOverWealth

The penultimate…

25. FKA Twigs – Two Weeks

Sultry down to its pulsating, electrified veins. Unabashedly sexy. Uncompromisingly commanding. Whip-cracking and snapdragon-y. Nodding to pop. Adherent to electronic. Mindful of RnB. Higher than a motherfucker. Get low and bow down to the queen. A coronation.


24. Sia – Chandelier/Elastic Heart

Some days, I think “Elastic Heart” is the better song. Most days, it’s my favourite of the two. And that’s not to disparage the force of “Chandelier” in any way — I don’t think there’s any doubt it has the hugest chorus of any pop song in 2014. I may just like “Elastic Heart’s” tempo and track a bit better. But this is splitting hairs. They’re both incredible songs. My non-denominational-deity, what a run Sia has been on the past few years. (There are no bonus points, but bonus points for the wonderful, bold, artistic video that accompanies “Elastic Heart”.)


23. Bombay Bicycle Club – Feel

My favourite tune from BBC’s latest full-length. This eastern-indebted ditty is awesome. It exemplifies the London lads’ talent, creativity, and sense of fun. It’s crystal clear they love music, and more than that, it’s clear they love exploring: sounds, rhythm, and the definition of the word “song.” That’s why I hold them in such high regard. And that electric guitar come-in at 2:36. Jesus Christ. Frankly, I’ve never heard a rhythmic, catchy, alt-pop, East-Indian leaning song before. I’m not sure another such song exists. Oh BBC. I’m forever tuned into your channel.


22. Sarah Bareilles – I Choose You

It might be difficult for some to see the appeal of “I Choose You”. Some might hear a straightforward pop song and shrug. Some might hear too much saccharine. Some might say any number of other things to denigrate the song. I won’t have any of it. It’s simply gorgeous. It’s Sarah Bareilles’ angelic vocals, the simple, humble, vulnerable lyrics, the way it all fits together so effortlessly. I found myself humming this tune more than almost any other in 2014.


Bonus: The Tea Party  – The Maker

“The Maker” is my #1 cover of 2014. If I hadn’t already placed it on that list, it’d reside somewhere around here, up in the stratosphere of the very best tunes of the year. And since I already linked to the record version of the song, here’s an amazing live version.


21. La Roux – Let Me Down Gently/Tropical Chancer

I’m kind of surprised La Roux didn’t blast through all layers of the music landscape in 2014 with these tunes. Perhaps her 5-year hiatus from the scene was too long. I’d worried it was. People are fickle and people forget. It’s a bloody shame though, as several of her comeback tunes are sensational. “Let Me Down Gently” and “Tropical Chancer” are among them. The former was La Roux’s first comeback song, 5:40 divided into two distinct parts, with the come-in at 2:40 a delicious slice of fresh, synth-buoyed retro pop. The latter was the third song Elly Jackson released, and blew me away just as the first two had. It’s a slinky, sexy, sweaty piece of confetti. I let its rain drop unabated in my ears time after time. The gear-shift at 2:28 is so, so slick, and that background flute flourish adds the cherry on top of this delectable fruit salad.


20. Elliphant f. Mo – One More

Cons: simple tune; pretty bad lyrics, kind of shitty video.

Pros: it has enough swag to fill up every one of those soon-to-be-empty Target stores, it has Scandinavians, and it has the biggest fucking synth-pop drop of 2014 (2:02).

“One More” I played. One more time after it ends. One more for the Swedes. One more back to life.


19. One Direction – Night Changes

The group is bigger than their music at this point. The haircuts, the tattoos, the backlash, whether Harry still loves Taylor, if Harry would rather be Larry. All these things, important cogs in the machine I’m sure, but they’ve overshadowed the five English lads’ music.

That said, One Direction don’t really need to focus on the actual music any more. The jet’s on auto-pilot as it were, indeed, as it is until the group inevitably breaks up, probably soon.

Which makes the fact that this is their best song since “What Makes You Beautiful” all the more the striking. It’s a mature, mid-tempo juggernaut with harmonies from the heavens and a melody moulded by Midas. If this is their last huge hit, and it very well may be, they couldn’t have had a better last hurrah.


18. alt-J – Left Hand Free/Intro

Whether or not the story behind “Left Hand Free” — that it was written in half an hour to quell pushy label demands — is true is irrelevant. The song sounds like an effortless undertaking, like the most fun alt-J have ever had laying down a track. It’s a mouthwatering mound of sweets. Even though it’s probably the most straightforward tune the band have done, it’s undeniably quirky, undeniably alt-J. Joe Newman’s lyrics are often esoteric and/or undecipherable, and even on a track like this where you can mostly hear what he’s saying, there are still some parts that make you go wtf.

“Hey shady baby, I’m hot like the pa-rodigal son. Pick a petal (Bigger battle) eenie-meenie-minie-mo, and flower, you’re the chosen one” was a lyric I sang as much or more than any other in 2014. Fuck, alt-J are so good.

You might think a song called “Intro” (their second song titled “Intro”) would be basic, maybe boring, unfulfilling, skip-worthy. You’d be dead fucking wrong. That there is so much meat on this “Intro” is a testament to how talented the guys in alt-J are. Creativity is spilling from every orifice of their collective body. There are wonderful harmonies, effects I can’t put my finger on, and again, indecipherable lyrics. Oh, and a bad-ass, floor-rattling beat. The stuff these guys are capable of musically doesn’t seem real, because anything is possible. And I’m god-damn thankful for those impossibilities. Triangles in the air, everyone.


17.  Against Me! – True Trans Soul Rebel/Black Me Out/Paralytic States/FuckMyLife666

What a massive, massive comeback. Their first album since White Crosses, their first album since Tom Gabel became Laura Jane Grace. I can only imagine the amount Laura Jane and the band had to process over the past few years. Does it sound like they’re confused? Like the music is unsure? Not a chance in hell. My jaw dropped when I first listened to the album. I knew it’d be one of the best of the year, even though it was only mid-January. I continued to listen to the album throughout the year, with the following four songs being talismans of my affection for the record. Grace has always had a way with clever and/or evocative lyrics and accessible, punchy riffs, and this sees her issue many more examples of that ability.

Gems like, “Black me out, I wanna piss on the walls of your house/I wanna chop those brass rings, off your fat fucking fingers, as if you were a kingmaker/As if, as if, as if, black me out!”

And, “Paralytic states of dependency/Our waking life’s just a living dream/Agitated states of amazement/Never quite the woman that she wanted to be.”

And maybe my favourite, “Don’t wanna live without bite, don’t wanna die without teeth…”

I have such affection for this band, this record, these songs.


Bonus: Paper Kites – Leopold Street (from 2012)

Possibly the sweetest (despite the weepy lyrics), most touching song I heard in 2014. It’s from 2012 though, so I didn’t include it as an official selection (haha, the rules). I can explain what I think of this song quite succinctly: I love it, dearly in fact, and it makes me think of love. Sometimes music’s a pretty simple thing, isn’t it.


16. Cold War Kids – First

“First you lose trust, then you get worried…First you get hurt, then you get sorry…First you get close, then you get worried…How am I the lucky one? I do not deserve, to wait around forever when you were there first…”

I’ve been a really big fan of Cold War Kids since their debut, even if they haven’t taken off like I think they’ve deserved to. And to my shock, five albums in, I think they may have just issued their best song. Some people might call that blasphemous, but I really do think “First” will stand alongside, if not above, “Hang Me Up To Dry”, “Hospital Beds”, and “Bitter Poem” when it’s all said and done.


15. Taylor Swift – Out Of The Woods/Blank Space

Outrageously catchy songs, both of them. It’s a crappy situation that I can’t find a quality link of “Out Of The Woods”, so I have to share the “live” version. The studio version is incredible. Ms. Swift seems to be running the music business at the moment, and she and her minions don’t want any unauthorized sharing of her hits. Save those pennies Taylor. Minor distractions from what are two absolute Goliaths. Swifty cannot release a non-gargantuan single. It’s around eight in a row that have been brilliant. I’m genuinely interested to see how long she can keep the streak alive. One more album?


14. Coldplay – Magic

My Favourite Coldplay song in many, many moons. In fact, probably since their first record, which is a looong time ago. I love the subtle beat that carries the first part of the song. I love that Coldplay have never done a song like this before, and I love that they felt frisky enough to try. I love that the tune’s insanely catchy. It’d probably be accurate to say I love the whole damn thing.


13. Cage The Elephant – Spiderhead/Telescope/Cigarette Daydreams

These songs are from a 2013 album. These songs made my Honourable Mention list in 2013. Yet, I don’t think I truly listened to them until this year, and toward the latter part of it at that. That was a mistake, but man, was it also a revelation.

Originally, I had these songs placed around #60. But it felt wrong. Shoplifting at you-know-they’re-closing-soon-so-why-not-help-yourself-to-a-little-sending-off-present-a-severance-package-of-sorts-ah-yes-that-sounds-nice Target wrong. Oh wait, that couldn’t be more right. But I digress. I figured out the best place to put these songs, and I’m happy they reside here, among the giants.

What struck me as I began to really get into these songs is that Cage The Elephant are a great band. I don’t know why this surprised me. They’ve hinted at greatness before. I don’t know what kind of blockage I had, but it’s better now. I see them for what they are: one of the coolest, most melodically inclined bunch of bad-asses cranking out tunes right now. They pay homage to Nirvana, The Beatles, and a bunch more, yet still come out sounding like no one else. That’s talent.

“Spiderhead”, the web of distortion, hooks, and crooked angles. “Spiders in my head, spiders in my mind/You may take my eyes, but baby, I’m not blind.” This tune is so bloody dynamic and fun.

“Telescope”, vision of the afar, sombre reflection, beautiful bed time story. The introduction in particular (about the first two minutes) is adorable, impeccable, and completely transfixing. I could listen to it forever. Maybe I will.

“Cigarette Daydreams” is the coup d’etat, sheer perfection, near transcendence. The melody is one of the best of the year, hands down. I’ve played it so, so, so much over the past couple months. I think I’ll play it much, much more. “Cigarette daydream, you were only 17/So sweet, with a mean streak, nearly brought me to my knees.” A simple lyric, but put to that combination of sounds, it’s wholly compelling.


12. La Roux – Uptight Downtown

With “Let Me Down Gently” and “Tropical Chancer” just a few spots down the list, the thought crossed my mind to combine all of them in one spot. But I couldn’t. “Uptight Downtown” is the best tune of the bunch, even though the other two are staggering slices of song in their own right.

It’s the romp-and-stomp decisiveness of the beat. It’s the quick-hit synths that guide the song like a hand-hold to a cuckold. It’s the lyric, “When did all these all these people, decide to change their shoooes, shoooes, shoooes.” It’s Elly Jackson’s assured, cooing vocals. It’s the rising temperature. It’s the grooviest song La Roux’s yet done. The fullest. And it’s that mountainous, mesmerizing chorus.

This should have been as big of a hit as the other gigantic pop songs of 2014. I’m not sure why it wasn’t. It was for me, and I’m happy as hell for that.


11. Maximo Park – Drinking Martinis/Midnight On The Hill/Where We’re Going/Brain Cells

It seems like whenever Maximo Park release a new album, I have their songs extremely high on my lists. It seems like I’m the only one in North America to do so. They’re so much an afterthought over here that if they even tour North America, they do it in a select few cities, none of which in Canada. I feel deep disappointment and shame for this. I don’t know why they haven’t connected with audiences here. I’m pretty sure their first couple albums did pretty well and garnered a bunch of praise. Then, it seems, people kind of forgot about them. I haven’t. They continue to be one of the most reliable outfits on the planet when it comes to crafting relatable, melodic, alt-pop gems. I’m convinced that in an alternate space/time/galaxy, Maximo Park are the biggest band around. I want to visit wherever that is. I just need to figure out how to get there.

I find sooooooooo much pleasure in the following four songs. And like many of the songs from their previous three albums, I can’t overplay them. The melodies and cores are so strong, so resplendent, that I never tire of listening to them. There is something about the way Paul Smith describes relationships, daily events, special events, life, that always grips me, takes me to another place. In this place, maybe I’m privy to his dreams, maybe he’s narrating mine. Maybe the point is to inspire dreaming. Yup, I think that’s it. And man, what a wonderful job he and his group have always done at that.