Last week, I listed my top 25 songs of the year. Today, I’m going to list ten albums that I feel were the best I heard over the year. The key words are “I heard.” There are a bunch of albums that I wanted to hear, or should have heard that I didn’t make time for. So the list is going to be by nature, extremely limited.
For that matter, do any young people listen to albums in full anymore? With the popularity of streaming services, I would guess that many people just find the songs they like and listen to those, rather than listen to a complete album. Since I was raised on them, I still listen to albums in full. I grew up in an era where albums often made coherent statements throughout all the tracks. I’m not sure as many of them do that anymore.
At any rate, here are my top ten albums (in no particular order):
- Tedeschi Trucks Band, Let Me Get By
- Santana, Santana IV
- Bruno Mars, 24K Magic
- Brian Culbertson, Funk!
- Solange, A Seat At The Table
- Leon Timbo, What Love’s All About
- Lindsey Webster, Back To Your Heart
- Eric Roberson & Phonte, Tigallerro
- Will Downing, Black Pearls
- Anthony Hamilton, What I’m Feelin’
A few words about each of those:
The Tededschi Trucks album was the first great thing I heard this year. Santana’s album, though a bit overlong, reminded me of their glory days. Bruno Mars’ album was the most fun that I heard all year; he wore his influences very well. Culbertson was a funky tour de force for a smooth jazz album, featuring many more vocals than your average album in the genre. Solange’s album gave her the spotlight, outside of big sister’s shadow (and her sister’s album Lemonade is reportedly very good. I’d tell you what I think of it, but it was one of those I didn’t hear this year). Leon Timbo’s album was astonishing, capped by his great single, “You’re My Darling.” Lindsey Webster continued the roll she was on following her album You Change. Eric Robertson & Phonte’s joining of forces of two stalwarts of independent R&B proved the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Will Downing’s covers project proves that much like Luther Vandross before him, he can take someone else’s song and give it his signature touch. Hamilton had another great album in which he did what he does, and with that voice, very few can convey emotions the way he does.
A few honorable mentions:
- Euge Groove, Still Euge
- Incognito, In Search Of Better Days
- Zo!, Skybreak
- Bob Baldwin, The Brazilian-American Soundtrack
- Corinne Bailey Rae, The Heart Speaks In Whispers
- BJ The Chicago Kid, In My Mind
- KING, We Are KING
- BWB, BWB
- Kindred The Family Soul, Legacy Of Love
One out of the box pleasant surprise: Nu Shooz, Bagtown. Absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, like the group who did “I Can’t Wait” back in the ’80s.
A few albums I didn’t get to, but should have:
- Beyoncé, Lemonade
- Gregory Porter, Take Me To The Alley
- Alicia Keys, HERE
- John Legend, Darkness & Light
One album I just listened to and wish I’d heard it sooner: The British Collective, Vol 1: The Renaissance Begins. Most of the British male R&B singers from the song “Spiritual” (which I featured in this post) got together and made an album of pleasing R&B. Sadly, Carl McIntosh from Loose Ends did not participate, with Omar, Don-E, Noel McKoy, Junior and Leee John.
One disappointment: Maxwell, blackSUMMERS’night. Seven years after the first of what is supposed to be a trilogy and this is what you come up with? It wasn’t bad, but after a seven year wait, I expected quite a bit more.
Feel free to list some of your favorite albums of the year, regardless of genre in the comments.