…. for 2017! Apologies for the shameless reference to the band Europe, but with the calendar winding its way quickly towards 2018 now it is once again time to bring you my end of the year album list.
And for this year it might just be the most special yet! The selections are only the top five this year instead of ten, but the tradeoff is worth it given that this time I was able to do it on the radio.
Thanks to morning show host Lee Rayburn on my station WHCU we have planned five installments whereby I count down my top albums of the year, while he counts his down as well. To date, this may be one of the best segments I’ve ever had the pleasure of being able to do on the radio, and I hope all of you out there enjoy these as much as I do.
For the #5 slot on the list, we lead off with Buffalo NY’s own Julie Byrne and her latest LP Not Even Happiness, and The War on Drugs with A Deeper Understanding. For more, listen below….
My extended comments on the record…
Like a hollow voice emerging from a lost and restless wilderness, Julie Byrne’s “Not Even Happiness” is a subtle rap of lightning to the senses. It awakens from a gently sliding dream in “Follow My Voice”, trembles with an elegant folk purity that would make Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold jealous on “Natural Blue”, and lifts off to the heavens on the wings of church-like synths and gently traced strings for the finisher on “I Live Now as a Singer”.
Byrne has developed a lot in just a few years, amping up the strengths of her guitar work, sweeping vocals, and beautifully human songwriting with new elements of sound and exploration. Faint passes of instrumentation like harp and flute add even further interest to an increasingly nuanced tapestry on “Happiness”, and just listening to those shifts in tone makes the record a new reward with every journey through.
“Life is short as a breath half-taken”, Byrne sings here, and she makes sure that every moment put out on this record is another well-spent within the art of song.
Tomorrow, we introduce #4!