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

4. Basia Bulat
Tall Tall Shadow
(Secret City)

The cover of Basia Bulat's Tall Tall Shadow suggests maturity, fragility, emotion. When you know of her talent, it's hard not to pay attention to such detail. She has a certain vulnerability and softness to her lyrics that suggests covers aren't an overlooked detail in her album construction. And then you press play.

The title track takes the feeling of vulnerability away. The colourful rhythms are a reason to smile; there's no sadness. Crescendos, subtle instruments, depth in sound and an upbeat sound introduce the album. On the first listen, you hear her creative freedom.

Accompanied by her trademark charango, her voice roars fragility. Tall Tall Shadow is raw feeling all the time. The reassuring denial of "It Can't Be You" is near-impossible not to relate to, while the spare, sombre piano of "From Now On" is a sure tearjerker.

Tall Tall Shadow is all about pleasure, love, the pain of losing a loved one and regret. Very few artists manage to dig as deep into themselves as Bulat does here. Because of it, Tall Tall Shadow is one of the greatest in its genre this year, and seems primed to stand the test of time. (Allison Van Rassel)