Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Country, Folk & Blues Albums

10. Lee Harvey Osmond
The Folk Sinner

Dim lights, minor keys, lonely harmonicas, rockabilly rhythms, lurching waltzes, ghostly pedal steel guitars, luminescent vibraphones — it's all tied together by the finest collection of roots rockers in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe with Lee Harvey Osmond's The Folk Sinner. The only one missing seems to be Daniel Lanois, though his spiritual presence is felt.

Helmed by songwriter Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) and producer Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), with guest spots from Oh Susanna and Hawksley Workman, among others, the (unfortunately named) Lee Harvey Osmond display the confidence of lifers who don't need to prove anything to anyone, don't need an ego boost and don't want to waste a single note. The relaxed atmosphere brings out the best in everyone, especially Wilson as a songwriter. His voice, particularly the extremities of his lower register, suit the mood perfectly, never more so than on the voice and upright bass reinvention of Gordon Lightfoot's "Oh Linda."

As for Timmins, this might be the most satisfying album he's been involved with since the Junkies' Trinity Session, so when sister Margo shows up to duet on the closing track, "Deep Water," it ties together the last 25 years of a roots music community dedicated to strolling off the beaten path. (Michael Barclay)