If you're assembling a "top albums of 2013" list, be sure to consider Southeastern by former Drive By Truckers guitarist Jason Isbell. It's his best album and, in my opinion, one of the best of the year.
From start to finish, Southeastern is a tour de force of songwriting and production. Quieter songs like "Elephant" and the opener, "Cover Me Up," shine in their sparse arrangements, while "Traveling Alone" and "Songs She Sang in the Shower" add emotion along with instrumentation.
This record may not have "big" songs like "Alabama Pines" or "Codeine," which are on Isbell's award-winning Here We Rest. But if you start at the beginning and listen all the way through, Southeastern will give you a more satisfying ride.