My choice for Album of the Year in 2014 was the hardest choice I've had to make in 30 years. This was a meh year for music, and none of the finalists (Leonard Cohen, Bryan Ferry, Ilya) were at their height with their entries; no matter how good those albums are, none represented the artist's career-best. So, without further ado...... My choice for 2014 Album of the Year goes to: "Blind as Hope," by Ilya. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote about the British duo's album this spring:
“Call My Name,” returns us to the brooding minstrel terrain. The vocals
here reach new heights (or depths in this case) for [Joanna] Swan; her
voice achieves such astonishing reach that one senses she’d be pleased
to no end if people at times mistake her voice for that of a man’s when
she reaches as deep as she does in the first minute of this lush ballad.
Once she untethers her voice, the listener feels afloat, riding as
high as Swan invites. And then things get crazy. Stupid crazy. Unfair.
It seems every time a review is written for an Ilya project, one is
proclaiming a song as their new unheralded masterpiece. Track 6, “The
Memory,” is so possessed and terrifyingly sublime that Swan seems
otherworldly herself. I once wrote that Swan’s “vocals are thoroughly
enmeshed with the narrative of the song, her movements inhabit the song
the way only the ghost of the architect can haunt a mansion.” When I
wrote that over six months ago, I had no way of knowing that a song
would come forth as a perfect illustration of exactly that. If you are a
fan of ethereal power vocals, then “The Memory” is the drug that is
waiting to meet you for the first—but never the last—time."
Here's where you can find Ilya, they are career musicians who have worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Tears for Fears: