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Bob Boilen's Top 10 Albums Of 2015

Pooneh Ghana
Courtesy of the artist

2015 was a year for lyricists to excel and express. And with one exception, all the albums at the top of my personal heap were perfect examples of that richness:

Courtney Barnett is my favorite lyricist. Her words are smart, funny and memorable. Sufjan Stevens came to terms with the loss of his mother so eloquently. Björk's open-chested treatise on betrayal and heart regarding the end of her relationship with artist Matthew Barney is likely the best record ever to document such loss and broken spirit. Three bands made albums that brilliantly chronicled the awkward transition from youth to adult: Ireland's SOAK, Brooklyn's Eskimeaux and Philadelphia's Girlpool. Torres (MacKenzie Scott) made an electric record of existential musings. The twins of Ibeyi made a record in the shadow of losing their older sister; the music, wrapped in their Afro-Cuban heritage, was somehow filled hope and gratitude. The tone paintings of Joan Shelley are so beautifully expressed by the pure grace of her voice laid on a soft bed of guitars, including that of Nathan Salsburg. The one instrumental record that I loved was a reimagining of Chopin by Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott that's both ambient and intimate.

These were my favorite records, the ones I returned to over and over again. Not to say there weren't other brilliant records (Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly or Beauty Pill's Describes Things As They Are or Kamasi Washington's The Epic or Joanna Newsom's Divers and Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Style or Asaf Avidan's Gold Shadow). But the ten records here, listed in order, starting with my favorite of the year, are the ones I returned to over and over again. There is no "best" in music, just ones we love. There is no right or wrong, just ones that fuel our soul. That's what my list is filled with.

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Bob Boilen
In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.