2016 was a particularly strange year (on lots of levels), but musically we saw a ton of great stuff from a wide range of artists. I've outlined my top-5 records of the year below with the only criteria being what resonated with me the most. I also think everyone - no matter what their musical taste is - will find something they can love on either of these records. Happy listening.
If you like any of these records go out and see them live when they come to a town near you.
Hiss Golden Messenger - Heart Like a Levee
The amount of love pouring from this record is amazing. Soulful, unforgiving and sonically spot on M.C. Taylor and the boys are peaking at a time when we need them most.
Backed by HW favorite and multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook this record is a perfect addition to a road trip.
Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth
Written entirely for his newborn son, Sturgill's third record was entirely self produced and he's got full control of this ship sailing out of Nashville. With the Dap Kings providing some backing brass and a beautiful cover of Nirvana's In Bloom this record is a winner.
Clocking in at a quick 38 minutes this record is perfect for a few spins in-a-row. My favorite track is the closer.
William Tyler - Modern Country
On this list as the only instrumental record, Modern Country will transport you to a whole new world while keeping you grounded in reality. This layered, guitar based music tows the line from ambient to country to soul and everything in between. At times I thought I was listening to a music score and others an extended jam from a Wilco b-side.
Perfect for reading and relaxing by the fire.
Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
Arguably the strongest singer-songwriter around right now. Morby channels Dylan and the late Leonard Cohen for his best work to date. It's a very dreamy record with guitar work that sonically wakes you back up throughout the record.
Puts this on while taking a walk or pouring a few at home alone. It will set you right.
Anderson .Paak - Malibu
Poised for a break-out year in 2017, Anderson has already appeared on some of the biggest records of the year with Kanye and Chance. I love his sound because he's blending gospel and soul with hip-hop. Also that voice is clear he's still got a lot stories to tell.
Put this on when you need a pick me up. All the good feels.