100 Favorite Albums of the Year 2020 – Part Seven

And here’s finally the last part of this probably way too long year-end list. But what can I do. I love music and could have easily pick another hundred without any drop quality. I think it’s just a nice way to share some of the music that matters to me, because these lists reach far more people than the weekly music posts or anything else that I do. There’s a Spotify playlist at the bottom, if you are into such a thing. There will be even a far longer playlist of my favorite 2020 music, when I do the songs of the year lists this weekend. Including singles, songs from EPs and albums that didn’t make the cut here. I’ll make insta photo of this list in a day or two, if you want a way to share this without my short ramblings.

Part Seven
Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

10. John Calvin Abney – Familiar Ground (Black Mesa Records)

We will start this final chapter of this year-end in Tulsa, Oklahoma with one of my long time favorites. Singer-songwriter John Calvin Abney took the most out of the sudden touring break and together with John Moreland recorded an absolute beauty of an album.

9. Tre Burt – Caught It From the Rye (Oh Boy Records)

Folks in the know might have known this powerful folk album from Sacramento-based songwriter Tre Burt even before 2020, because I think there maybe was a self-release on Bandcamp. I wasn’t one of them wise people and first heard this beauty in January, 2020, when John Prine’s Oh Boy Records released it. I also highly recommend his latest single Under The Devil’s Knee which is one of the most important songs of the year.

8. S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling (Verve Forecast)

You see me smoking on this cigarette
Same kind that took our nana’s breath
It’s the only flame that I have left
Will it be the death of me

I was walking aimlessly around a flea market while waiting to get the car back from yearly maintenance. Kentucky-based songwriter S.G. Goodman had just released a new album on the same day and I had it playing on my headphones. Then I heard her softly singing those lines of Red Bird Morning and it really stopped time and beautifully destroyed me. That was the moment I become a fan. Red Bird Morning is not the only side of the story and there’s plenty of variation on the record. The title track for example is quite different, but equally brilliant.

7. Daniel Romano – How Ill Thy World Is Ordered (You’ve Changed Records) / + 10 more albums

Canadian songwriter Daniel Romano was the true champion of the lockdown and released about 10 or 11 albums during the year (I lost count). During the new record wednesdays (he released a new album every wednesday back in the spring) I started to think that I need to find some side hustle to afford all these beautiful releases. The quality remained super high throughout the release galore and one could make a pretty damn good top 10 for 2020 just by using Daniel Romano’s material. He has to settle for one spot though and let’s give it to the more “official” label release How Ill Thy World Is Ordered. Some other favorites were Content to Point the Way and White Flag, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. There’s also a wonderful live album called Okay Wow. I’m not a big fan of live albums in general, but that one rocks.

6. Luka Kuplowsky – Stardust (Mama Bird Recording Co / Next Door Records)

Staying in Canada for the new Luka Kuplowsky album Stardust. I’ve been a fan for a long time and was thrilled when I heard that his new album will be released by my favorite record label Mama Bird Recording Co. Stardust is such a beauty. Luka’s songs with rich arrangements and jazzy undertones. Count me in every time. Bonus points and imaginary culture award for the absolute best live music video. Live at the Golden Lion is an ode to director Aki Kaurismäki and contains three songs from the new album.

5. Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers (Loose Music / Fat Possum Records)

This new Courtney Marie Andrews album is pure magic and full of amazingly beautiful songs. Heartbreak with warmness and kindness. What a band too with Twain’s Mat Davidson and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia.

4. Evangeline Gentle – Evangeline Gentle (Sonic Unyon Records)

This self-titled album from Evangeline Gentle was the surprise of the year me. I found it because Jim Bryson produced it, but I stuck around because of Evangeline Gentle’s wonderful songs. The album feels very heartfelt and honest and I love everything about it. Impossible to even pick a favorite song, because songs like Ordinary People, Sundays, So It Goes, Neither of Us, Strongest People Have Tender Hearts and Good and Guided are all pure gold. It’s a record that has a good heart.

3. Christian Lee Hutson – Beginners (ANTI-)

Next back stateside. Los Angeles, California to be more precise. After loving I Just Can’t Fucking Do It Anymore and Northsiders madly, this Christian Lee Hutson album Beginners was one of my most anticipated records of the year and it certainly was able to live up to my even unfairly high expectations. Sad songs beautifully told.

2. J.E. Sunde – 9 Songs About Love (Vietnam)

J.E. Sunde from Minnesota is one of my favorite songwriters in the world and his new album 9 Songs About Love is again wonderful. It also has by far my favorite song of the year. Or any year for that matter, because a very few songs have ever resonated with me as deeply as I Don’t Care to Dance. That song is everything to me. It’s also not a lucky one-off, because the 8 other songs about love are also magnificent.

1. Ron Sexsmith – Hermitage (Cooking Vinyl)

The master of songs and twitter puns, Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith made the album I loved the most during 2020. Or perhaps it was the album that loved me the most. Hermitage certainly carried me through this year and took care of me on many sleepless nights when I needed a warm familiar voice on my side. It was a shoulder and a calming companion when my heart was racing through the roof. I’m grateful that I had it with me during this strange and awful year. I would have been lost without it. These personal aspects are part of the reason, why Hermitage is my album of the year. However, even all this personal mumbo jumbo aside, there’s a real gem here. An album full of beautiful melodies and instantly memorable hopeful and warm-hearted songs. On the same level as the early Ron Sexmith albums that I will forever hold dear. A treasure of an album.

And here’s the playlist.

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100 Favorite Albums of the Year 2020 – Part Six

Part Seven
Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

Austin Lucas – Alive in the Hot Zone (Cornelius Chapel Records / Sabotage Records)

And here we go again. Kicking things off with one of my favorite songwriters Austin Lucas and his new wonderful album Alive in the Hot Zone.

Lilly Hiatt – Walking Proof (New West Records)

There’s actually a long run of long time favorites on this chapter of the year-end story. Next we have great new album Walking Proof from Lilly Hiatt.

Andrew Bryant – Sentimental Noises

Andrew Bryant is also a regular visitor on my lists and he released a fabulous southern burner called Sentimental Noises.

American Aquarium – Lamentations (New West Records)

And well same can be said about American Aquarium and its songwriter BJ Barham. Another really powerful collection of songs from the band.

Arlo McKinley – Die Midwestern (Oh Boy Records)

Arlo McKinley hasn’t been on my eoty lists since 2014 for the sole reason that he didn’t release anything until now in 2020 when he was signed to John Prine’s Oh Boy Records. The album was totally worth the wait and contains magnificent songwriting.

Zephaniah OHora – Listening to the Music (Last Roundup Records)

Then some country gold from Brooklyn, NY. Zephaniah OHora wrote the songs, Neal Casal produced, I listened and loved.

Damien Jurado – What’s New, Tomboy? (Loose Music / Mama Bird Recording Co)

More and more long time favorites. Damien Jurado seems to release a great album every year and how sweet is that.

Andy Shauf – Neon Skyline (ANTI-)

How about writing whole album about one bar night. An idea bound to fail. Well unless you are Andy Shauf, because of course he can make it work perfectly. Superb stuff once again.

Hello Emerson – How To Cook Everything (Anyway Records / K & F Records)

Hello Emerson is a big new favorite and I really love this album. May 2018 and Seat 14B are just perfect story songs and the highlights for me.

Felix Hatfield – False God

One of mymore recent favorites has been this excellent and unique folk album from Portland-based Felix Hatfield.

Bill Callahan – Gold Record (Drag City)

Here’s one that doesn’t need an introduction. Everybody loves Bill Callahan.

Chloe Alison Escott – Stars Under Contract (Chapter Music)

I’m not the expert on the Tasmanian music scene nor do I usually listen to solo piano albums, but I really like this new album from Chloe Alison Escott.

Kacey Johansing – No Better Time (Night Bloom Records)

Kacey Johansing released something rather magical late in the year. What a beautiful album.

Brigid Mae Power – Head Above Water (Fire Records)

More magical wondrous folk beauty. This time from Galway, Ireland by singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power.

Jennifer Castle – Monarch Season (Idee Fixe Records / Paradise of Bachelors)

Canadian Jennifer Castle has become one of my favorites during the past five years or so and her new album is again something that I hold very dear. The beautiful ending song of her new album wraps the sixth part of this roundup. Last ten tomorrow and then I’ll add links for easier browsing, make insta photos plus a spotify playlist.

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100 Favorite Albums of the Year 2020 – Part Five

Part Seven
Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

Maxwell Stern – Impossible Sum (Lauren Records)

Another chapter and kicking it off in Philadelphia with a brilliant album from Maxwell Stern. Totally my kind of record that would have fitted in also during the early days of this blog. Such a perfect pop record.

Ian Daniel Kehoe – Charging the Stone / Rock & Roll Illusion / Disco Body Buzz (Tin Angel Records)

Canadian songwriter Ian Daniel Kehoe released three albums on one Bandcamp day. They are all great and can share one spot on this little list. Tin Angel Records are putting them out more officially. At least Rock & Roll Illusion is already out there and rest will follor.

MAITA – Best Wishes (Kill Rock Stars)

Back in Portland, Oregon once again. MAITA was on the EP list few years back and now they have a great album out too. And on the legendary Kill Rock Stars label.

Talitha Ferri – Get Well Soon (Soulpod Collective)

The only visit to Denmark on this year-end galore. Talitha Ferri released a dazzlingly beautiful debut album.

Adam Selzer – Slow Decay (Jealous Butcher Records)

Then we return to Portland. I’m a long time fan of Adam Selzer. I loved those Norfolk & Western records in the early 00s. It was pleasant surprise that he released a great new solo record in 2020.

David Dondero – The Filter Bubble Blues (Fluff & Gravy Records)

David Dondero’s new record was one of the early highlights of the year. Powerful and important.

I’m Kingfisher – The Past Has Begun (Fading Trails Records)

This roundabout has already visited Denmark and Norway, so it’s about time to hit the Swedish shores as well. The new I’m Kingfisher album is gorgeous and a perfect follow-up to Transit. He is on a roll.

Will Johnson – El Capitan (Keeled Scales)

And well if Will Johnson puts out a record, I’m going to listen to it and I’m going to love it.

Possessed By Paul James – As We Go Wandering

Another from the early parts of the year. I’ve been following Possessed By Paul James (aka Konrad Wert) since the The Folk Singer movie and it was great to finally get a new album from him.

Skyway Man – The World Only Ends When You Die (Mama Bird Recording Co)

Next an extraordinary genre-hopping sonic adventure with Oakland’s Skyway Man.

Becky Warren – The Sick Season

And then some american countrified rock’n’roll from Becky Warren. Lots of gems here like Appointment with the Blues, Me and These Jeans and Birmingham.

Lydia Loveless – Daughter (Honey, You’re Gonna Be Late records)

Lydia Loveless also released a new album and a damn good one too.

Lucinda Williams – Good Souls, Better Angels (Highway 20 Records)

Well she definitely doesn’t need an introduction. Powerful songs again from Lucinda Williams.

Otis Gibbs – Hoosier National

Otis Gibbs, the master of podcasts and front porch videos also released a mighty good album.

Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling / The New OK (ATO Records)

Drive-By Truckers can do the honors and wrap up this chapter of this saga. They released two excellent records this year. I have no idea, which one is better so these powerful albums can share this spot on the list. Here’s Thoughts and Prayers from Unraveling.

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