Jack Johnson – On and On – Universal
Ben Harper’s protégé Jack Johnson released the sexiest album to be released all year, warm, relaxed and sensually smooth. Perfect music to enjoy at the beach, or at home with the lights turned low. If you haven’t experienced Jack Johnson, do yourself a favor, and pick up On and On.
Sam Roberts – We Were Born In a Flame – Maple Music
Montreal native, Sam Roberts graced Halifax twice while in support of his acclaimed follow-up to his debut EP The Inhuman Condition. A scruffier, harder rockin’ Sam Roberts proved he was more than Canada’s “it”-guy, with We Were Born In a Flame.
Gord Downie – Pascal’s Submarine – Maple Music
This is the album everyone expected with Gord’s debut Coke Machine Glow, Pascal’s Submarine is far more accessible and universally appealing. The title track had national radio support, as The Tragically Hip frontman showed everyone he could do intelligently witty, engaging commercial rock.
Dave Matthews – Some Devil – RCA
Dave Matthews joined the “frontman gone solo” trend of 2003, with the release of Some Devil, his solo debut. Gone was the sweepingly epic sound of the highly talented DMB, and in its place stood a tender, brooding songwriter, finding his voice. Powerful, dark and haunting.
DMX – Grand Champ – Bloodline/Def Jam
Earl Simmons is about to leave the building. Grand Champ marks DMX’s fifth and final album, leaving in his wake a devout following in the hip-hop community for his steely demeanor and outspoken nature. Grand Champ is a return to form after the dismal Great Depression, a fitting finale in a stellar (albeit brief) career.
Ben Harper – Diamonds on the Inside – Virgin
Ben Harper is an artist who transcends genres, never one to be content being pigeonholed as a one genre artist, he’s in a constant state of flux. Few artists can fuse genres as seamlessly, he invokes the spirit of Bob Marley. Diamonds on the Inside was one of the best of 2003, a wonderful follow-up to Live On Mars.
Matthew Good – Avalanche – Universal
Nothing really changed for Matthew Good after his supporting band departed, his biting, social commentary was still intact, as was his sweeping (sometimes self-indulgent) orchestral accompaniment. Matt kept an unusually low profile in 2003, but we haven’t forgotten about his stellar solo debut Avalanche.
Trews – House Of Ill Fame – Sony
From under the wing of Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson, emerged The Trews with their debut EP House of Ill Fame in hand. Johnson’s fingerprints are unmistakable, infusing a bluesy feel into the rockin’ sound of the Antigonish natives. Fan favorites “Strays”, “Confessions” and the Halifax tribute “Hollis & Morris”, also appear.