is The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists.
No one song is my favorite of the year, but if there ever was an argument for the power of albums over singles in the age of MP3s, this album is it. It’s like a musical, it tells a story with multiple characters. When they played live shows this year, the first hour was an uninterrupted The Hazards of Love set with each performer playing a character. It was like watching a musical, or an opera.
Many of the songs work on their own as well– most of all The Rake’s Song, but also The Wanting Comes in Waves and Won’t Want for Love. And the myriad versions of The Hazards of Love.
This is The Hazards of Love live in Boston:
I discovered the album through NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast during SXSW earlier this year. These days, I discover a lot of new music from that podcast.