Here’s my first-ever “best of the year” list, prompted by an invitation from eMusic to give them my five favourite downloads of the year. This list combines the eMusic downloads with my iTunes and (increasingly rare) CD purchases. It was tough to stop at 12: I found a lot of great music this year. My choices are in no particular order, although if I were forced to choose a single favourite, it would by Haris Alexiou’s release.

(NOTE: 2006 may not be the official release date on all of these. Being that they are all “world music,” it often takes a while for them to become available in Canada. Links most often go to the artists’ web sites; not all are in English.)

Sour Cherry & Bitter Orange album cover
Haris Alexiou
Sour Cherry & Bitter Orange

Greeek mega-star keeps producing wonderful songs. Stylistically, she doesn’t stand still.

Guarda-me a vida na mao album cover
Ana Moura
Guarda-me a vida na mão

One of the great voices of new fado. Seeing her in concert was a treat.

Mesk Elil album cover
Souad Massi
Mesk Elil

Sweet, funky, soulful: she has it all, spiced with the sounds of north Africa. I liked this so much, I went out and downloaded the rest of her available CDs.

Secret Gate album cover
Mostar Sevdah Reunion
A Secret Gate

There may not be a better group of musicians on the planet. Exceptional music from the former Yugoslavia.

Sentidos album cover
Ana Laíns

One more new fado disc; one more great voice, full of passion.

Universo Ao Meu Redor album cover
Marisa Monte
Universo Ao Meu Redor

From Brazil, comes more fine songs and a sweet voice. Montes is one of my favourites.

The Continuing Adventures album cover
Taraf de Haidouks
The Continuing Adventures Of Taraf De Haidouks

Flat out Roma fun.

Organic album cover
Miquel Gil

Strong flamenco touches blended with sounds from throughout the Mediterranean. Flat-out soulful.

Lenine album cover

Great music from Brazil, following the in the footsteps of Seu Jorge, Carlinhos Brown and Gilberto Gil and creating some paths of his own.

Amic, Amat album cover
Maria del Mar Bonet
Amic, Amat

A great voice, drawing on sounds from throughout the Mediterranean to create something special.

The Legends of Life album cover
Mostar Sevdah Reunion
The Legends of Life

Mostar Sevdah Reunion with Ljiljana Buttler, whose smoky voice is perfect for this collection of tangos, blues, sevdah…touches the soul.

Mhm A-ha Oh Yeah Da-Da album cover
Darko Rundek
Mhm A-ha Oh Yeah Da-Da

Rundek, a Serb from Croatia, explores isolation with music that draws influences from…well…everywhere: rock, pop, Serbia, France….