by James Hill, Library Director
I listen to a lot of music and get recommendations from friends, concerts, and by having teenagers in the house. I listen across genres, but find myself gravitating to the familiar, too. Most often, an album cover or a review will catch my attention and I’ll listen to it once or twice and move on. I know I really like an album or an artist when I find myself seeking out the same songs or albums over and over instead of just streaming what’s new and shiny.
Here are a few of my favorites from 2019 that were in heavy rotation. Most are available from the library:
Yola, Walk through the Fire
Americana, R&B, Country? It all comes together in this great album. Check out the title track or the Tracy Chapman-esque Ride Out in the Country.
Michael Franti and Spearhead, Stay Human Vol. II
Sometimes you just need some reaffirming feel good music, like Show Me Your Peace Sign.
The Highwomen, The Highwomen
The Highway Men was a supergroup of music legends: Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. This group obviously and knowingly borrows from them and is a supergroup in their own right, featuring Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby. Check out the title track (with a verse by the above mentioned Yola).
Bedouine, Bird Songs of a Killjoy
I almost hope you haven’t previously heard of Bedouine, the stage name of Azniv Korkejian. Her newest album is beautiful. Bird will remind you of everything you ever loved.
Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
Infectious. I’ve heard this album so much that I need a break, but maybe you don’t. This Life is a good track to start with.
The Cranberries, In the End
There’s a lot of nostalgia in this album that may not appeal to some, but the title track, especially considering Dolores O’riordan’s sudden death before it was released, is poignant.
Robbie Robertson, Sinematic
Robertson is better known as the songwriter for and member of The Band, but I’ve always enjoyed his solo work, too. It has a specific sound that blends in well with the night. The first track is a duet with Van Morrison: I Hear You Paint Houses.
Jakob Dylan (and others), Echo in the Canyon Soundtrack
I stumbled upon this documentary on Netflix. It’s basically Jakob Dylan (son of Bob and leader of the Wallflowers) tracing the evolution of the sound of the 1960s in Laurel Canyon, California. Dylan interviews a lot of the old guard (Nash, Stills, Clapton) and re-records a lot of the songs with folks from his generation, including Beck and Norah Jones. My favorite track is the cover of the Mamas and the Papas’ Go Where You Wanna Go. Jade Castrinos nails the lead vocal.
Marc Maron and Various Artists, In the Garage: Live Music from WTF
It’s really not fair to include this because, as far as I know, it is only available on vinyl as a Record Store Day release from this past spring. If you happen to get a chance to hear it though, do so. These are often acoustic performances recorded during Marc Maron’s interviews with the artists for his podcast, WTF. Every track is a winner. I especially like Melissa Etheridge’s “Take My Number,” Jason Isbell’s stripped down “Elephant,” and the version of “Help Me Dream” that Maron does with Dave Alvin.
In case you need a few more, here are some honorable mentions from 2019:
Keb ‘Mo, Oklahoma
David Wax Museum, Line of Light
Tedeschi Trucks Band, Signs
Glen Hansard, This Wild Willing