Guest Lists: Pat Barrett’s (Hedge Schools) 10 best albums of 2015

Patrick M Barrett, Joe Chester, Donagh Molloy  and Kevin Murphy made something very special in 2015.

Collectively known as Hedge Schools they reminded us that music is something more than just a stream of bits and bytes with a wonderfully crafted record ‘At the End of a Winding Day’. Masterfully produced by Joe Chester, this is a collection of songs that has resonated with many of us who watch on while music becomes an increasingly throwaway commodity. Singer Pat Barrett is a man of consummate music taste, so it seems apt that he brings down the curtain on this year’s Guest List series, having also been involved in making an album that featured in many of our end of year favourites.

Looking back across the year the records that moved me and they have primarily been instrumental records, no reason or explanation. The next Hedge Schools record might be an even quieter affair as a result. I just seemed to forage through links and articles all year finding some gems along the way. I thought it was a wonderful year for the tunes, I really did, some digging required when it came to finding some, but sometimes the diamonds are deeper in the mines.


1. Carrie & Lowell -Sufjan Stevens

I just couldn’t get beyond the sheer beauty of this record . Heartfelt, aching honesty, beautifully played and recorded, I just kept going back, hearing new things every time, but being moved more and more every time.


2. Slow Meadow -Slow Meadow

Discovered this cinematic, atmospheric gem following a link from a Tweet by the American ambient band Hammock, I was staggered by its beauty throughout the year. Faultless.


3.  Sometimes – Goldmund

Goldmund is the musical vehicle of the composer Keith Kenniff, Sometimes is this years offering from him and its minimalist cinematic soundscapes enraptured me through the latter months of the year.


4.  Goon – Tobias Jesso Jr

A wonderful album of songwriting, obvious Randy Newman, John Lennon influences in the writing but I thought it was faultless from start to finish. There’s a bright future for this lad.


5. Primrose Green – Ryley Walker

Steeped in 70’s folk but with the most wonderful freestyle when it came to the live gig earlier in the year. He’s an incredible guitar player and the songs are just golden.


6. Agus anois an Aimsir – Colm Mac Con Iomaire

The second long player from the Wexford based fiddler player from The Frames, and again, another record I just kept going back to throughout the year . Cinematic, Lush, authentic detail in every note, every movement, I love this album.


7.  From Sleep – Max Richter 

Did exactly what it said on the tin. Another wonderful classical crossover from this exceptional musician. Beguiling in its arrangements, its colours, its tones.


 8.  St Catherine – Ducktails 

How this record wasn’t all over the radio throughout the summer months simply baffled me. The jangle of the great Teenage Fanclub, songs to die for, melody, it’s had it all. The ” One that got away ” in 2015, I think so.


9. Golden Age – Daniel Martin Moore 

The fifth album for the the Kentucky born songwriter . Produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket this always promised to be a sonic masterclass, it didn’t disappoint, subtle orchestration, warm reverbs, great songs. Just beguiled me with every listen.


10.  Complete Strangers – Vetiver

When Vetiver release records , I will always dig them out, hunt them down. Glorious crafting in the tunes, never put a foot wrong. I had this records predecessor a 2011 record called Errant Charm on an end of year list back then. Always worth a listen, always.


(Main Photo: Ruth Medjber )