Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 10 Country, Folk & Blues Albums

2. Bry Webb
Free Will
(Idée Fixe)

Just a month before the reunion of Canada's favourite art-rock sons the Constantines earlier this year, lead singer Bry Webb remained fairly mum on the whole thing, turning down interview requests to discuss the reunion. What Webb wanted to discuss was his new country-tinged solo record, Free Will, and with good reason. Webb's second solo record is a complex unveiling of the 37-year-old, normally one of the more reticent songwriters in the country. There has always been a mystery to the Constantines, held afloat in no small part by the vagueness of Webb's lyrics. Free Will is the sound of the songwriter exposed and totally at peace with the restlessness that inspired the riotous nature of the band that made him famous.

Patient and building, Free Will finds Webb embracing a possibly Constantines-free future. The slow-rolling "AM Blues" is as buoyant as Webb's folk has ever sounded. There's simplicity to his lyrics, but even as he croons, "Any game you choose/ Is a game I was born to lose," you can't help but visualize Webb with a smirk on his face. Free Will is a warm document of the incredible strides Webb has made that will remain long after the feedback from Constantines' amps stops ringing. (Joshua Kloke)