So, I’ve got to say, resoundingly what many of us already know; this year has been wild. To focus on either the highs or the lows would be unfair to combined experience, though I have experienced both.
Usually, I have listed pretty extensive lists of records I have purchased in the past 12 months and/or expect in the upcoming year. I am taking a different approach this year with some hot takes and quality takeaways on fewer titles. Disagree? Start a blog and send me a link or kindly see yourself out. No Takers? Ok. Buckle In. Here. We. Go!
Album I predicted I would connect more with;
“30”, Adele- Ok, here’s an unpopular opinion; I had higher expectations for an LP that I preordered that features one singer whom I regularly praise for powerful voice work and pop sensibilities. I knew that I could not expect such a commercial success as her previously released albums, but outside of the radio popular “Easy On Me”, I don’t see a second single strong enough to carry the rest of this album. I thought that the sweet moment between Adele and her son on “My Little Love” was worth keeping the LP instead of returning the still cellophane wrapped edition I posses. I am confident that Adele is still capable of producing tracks that astound, but this album was seemingly void of most of those.
Album that grew on me after multiple spins;
“In These Silent Days”, Brandi Carlile- This was another long awaited preorder for me that on the first spin, I wondered if maybe I just had lost my mind on. Had I just outgrown the music that I very much connected with in prior albums? Had the music outgrown my sensibilities as a consumer?
(Unrelated story time: I went to Austin City Limits Festival a few years ago to see Eminem perform. I was well into my twenties, finally able to afford the pricey weekend festival wristband and ready to see an artist who I grew up listening to and once felt inspired by. However, after possible near heat stroke in the festival sun, mild claustrophobia in the middle of concert crowds, and undiagnosed/untreated high blood sugar levels I found that almost two decades after their original release, I knew the lyrics but didn’t relate anymore. I needed to leave that performance early. The same performance that I built up in my mind as a must attend was the same one which I made a safe decision to leave. It no longer tracked for me, and I at least could hear a few more of the songs that were less alienating to where I grew into.)
Yet, whether it was just my insistence on trying to understand Carlile’s reflections or newly applying her melodious choruses to the events in my life in 2021, “In These Silent Days” delivers on second and further spins.
2021 Reissue that is a solid banger;
“Minutes to Midnight”, Linkin Park- Record Store Day on Black Friday this year afforded me a few really great finds, however I cannot adequately express how joyful I was to find the following week on the regular market (and not marked up by a reseller) this gem of a Rick Ruben produced Linkin Park record. It is both ferocious and tender. Scream along with the late Chester Bennington on “Bleed it Out” or “What I’ve Done” as well as reflectively wind down with Mike Shinoda on “Hands Held High”. If you can find it for a reasonable price, for sure give it consideration.
Unexpected find that is a solid banger;
“Saturn Return”, The Secret Sisters- To be fair, this record released in 2020 but it was only when I saw it in my local record shop’s recent markdown section did I choose to give it a shot. I had heard the track “Late Bloomer” on streaming services, but upon further investigation, “Water Witch”, “Hold You Dear” and “Cabin” all draw forward response that I would have missed if I hadn’t seen this title when and where I did. If you see it, pick it up.
Overall solid release of 2021;
“star-crossed”, Kacey Musgraves- I am still undecided if it is fitting or odd that a concept album tops the 2021 Year In Review, but irregardless of the inspiration for the LP, Musgraves delivers in a way that I had hoped Adele and Carlile’s would on first listen. Stand out tracks include “justified”, “good wife”, “breadwinner” and the spanish-language “gracias a la vida”. Maybe I am a sucker for Kacey’s balance of verbose vulnerability, but “star-crossed” is a knock down drag out LP winner of 2021.
Looking Forward Release of 2022;
Houston’s “The Suffers” are self producing a third album that is expected to drop in the new year. Keep your eyes and ears open for what Gulf Coast Soul will be rocking soon enough.
And with this list, I hope you have found something to connect with. I hope that our travels in the upcoming year will be productive; that we share stories of struggle and success, that we grow closer to the ideal versions of ourselves and that we are able to look out for one another. That will wrap up my entries for 2021. I appreciate your support; your weekly attention in a world of easy distraction and I hope that whatever the new year brings that it finds us a little better than the year before.
Thanks again, y’all!