The annual foray into the music world (in terms of this blog) continues. I insist you check out the list below and flood the songs to your playlists. I seem to have reconnected somewhat with British music this year, mainly thanks to listening to the excellent The Roddy Hart Show every week on BBC Radio Scotland. Here are my best albums of 2016:
Emotions and Math – Margaret Glaspy
An energetic and mesmerising debut from the female singer-songwriter from Red Bluff, California. Based in New York and signed to the progressive ATO Records, Glaspy’s oft-punkish vibe is complimented by her effervescent use of the electric guitar, solo, on most tracks.
Masterpiece – Big Thief
Hauntingly beautiful with flashes of raw, unadulterated emotion, Big Thief are my find of the year. A most eclectic of albums that produces some of the most inventive guitar use since the indie bands of the 90s.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson
Sturgill Simpson’s raspy, rich voice conveys incredible feeling and emotion alongside his impeccable songwriting. One of the most traditional, eloquent country music and roots artists in the world today.
Love Letter to Fire – Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
A reinvention of the duets album in its finest form – Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam orchestrates a stunningly beautiful collection of songs that moved me to tears a number of times this year. The chemistry between the two is unsurpassed.
Are You Serious – Andrew Bird
A quirky yet satisfying collection from the enigmatic one-man-band Bird. “Left-Handed Kisses” is a magnificent duet with the enchanting Fiona Apple that deserves the never-ending press of the repeat button.
Max Jury – Max Jury
An early highlight of the year. Lovingly nostalgic and “Pop”-like, the debut album from the Instagram-happy Des Moines native is one to savour. The album reminds me heavily of Paul Simon at times.
…And Lo! The Bird Is On The Wing – Blue Rose Code
The soundtrack to my trip back to the UK in March, where my wife and I visited Scotland and ventured off into the Highlands. Rich, true and imposingly beautiful, Ross’ voice and lyrics echo stories of love, loss and hope.
Sex & Politics – Cam Penner
I was introduced to Cam Penner through his slightly alternative Christmas song “Balsam Fir.” This album is raw, beguiling and at times so simply moving that you cannot help but sit in silence, with your headphones on, listening in wonder.
Brighter Still – Adam Holmes
There is an intimacy in not only the music but also the lyrics in this superb second album from one of Scotland’s finest. One of my most-listened to albums of the year. Perfect for Monday mornings at work!
Here – Teenage Fanclub
A late contender for my record of the year. A glorious return from the Scottish stalwarts who wooed many a fan early in their career. The songwriting is better than ever, a perfect concoction of creativity and storytelling.