This really is the most wonderful time of the year where we pick and choose some amazing tracks from all year. Enjoy this list and please share with your friends.
20) Dan Clews – “Mountain”
-Fingerpicking, solid vocal, and an amazing melody. This song is destined for greatness. I love the imagery of the song’s lyrics combined with the ominous chord progression in the fingerpicking. When the harmonies enter on the chorus, I smile like a butcher’s dog. This is an incredible song.
19) Andrea Von Kampen – “Let Me Down Easy”
-One of my favorite pure vocalists I found this year, Andrea Von Kampen’s style is just beautiful. Her songwriting is smooth and easy. I find the melody to be quite pleasing and the chords pretty much tickle your ears. It’s about anticipating disappointment, really, but the song definitely does not disappoint.
18) Big Brutus – “Louise”
-When it comes to pop folk music, it’s hard to find a sound that really stands out. But the band Big Brutus managed to create a thrilling sound that emerges seemingly out of nowhere. The acoustic guitar and the understated vocals seem standard until you get to the chord change right before the chorus. The gorgeous harmonies there feel like the first time you pluck the “she loves me” petal off of the daisy. It’s a wry, but thankful smile. That’s how I feel when I listen to this cute and fun song.
17) The Modern Times – “Keyholes and Birds”
-Yes, I did listen to some rock music this year, I promise. Any time I listen to a song that makes me reflect this much on the Beatles and the Stones, I have to listen again. There’s a raw, real rock vibe to the song. The “ooh ohhs” in the chorus just pop for me, making for an infinitely singable hook. It’s a just what rock should be for me.
16) The Wheelwrights – “Dust”
-Here’s another folk pop song that brings a beautiful performative element. The orchestral style in the background gives a depth of field that some other folk music just can’t have. When the vocal harmonies enter the track, it feels sweet and satisfying like homemade fruit pies for the holidays. Just me? Well, whatever. It’s a delicious song that has a set of existential questions that concludes (spoiler), that life is not as complicated as we try to make it.
15) The Franklin Electric – “Burning Flame”
-This powerful song has a sense that it could fill an arena with sound. There’s a dynamism to the way the vocal is mixed allowing it to soar over the instruments. The lead vocal, though, is so supremely exciting that it commands the room anyways. I would love to hear this one live. It gives me chills thinking about the feeling in your heart when you “feel troubled.” If the feeling of “butterflies in your stomach” had a song, this is it.
14) Stu Larsen – “Far From Me”
-We’ve covered Stu Larsen for years now. He’s an incredible soul who happens to also write gloriously poetic music. This one has some really stunning vocal harmonies that bring me back to it over and over. The lyrical content about the balance between love and freedom is really captivating in its own right. Larsen’s clear and clairvoyant style consistently appeal to me.
13) Luke Sital-Singh – “Killing Me”
-Contemplative singer songwriters are kind of our thing around here, so Luke Sital-Singh could be royalty in our castle. His songwriting is simultaneously intimate and massive. He can make it feel like his soul is singing out for the whole world to hear, but really it’s just for one person. The song is about heartbreak and anyone who has been there could absolutely connect with the raw emotion of this piano ballad. You don’t need production tricks to make the whole world cry.
12) Talbott Brothers – “Traveller”
-Chances are, if you’ve heard the Talbott Brothers, you’ve heard “We Got Love,” which is a great song. But here I wanted to highlight this other song “Traveller” that puts me in mind of NeedToBreathe. I love the songwriting and the execution of the track. The sibling harmonies are, of course, stellar. Beyond that, though, the lyrical content is genuine and reflects on personal values and direction. It’s a song that really resonated with me personally this year and deserved to be on this list.
11) Nick Wilson – “Miles Apart”
-If you’re listening to these in order, you’re noticing a pattern. I love vocal harmonies. The harmonies on this Nick Wilson track are simply stunning. It’s a beautiful atmospheric track that pleases every listen. The introspective lyrics are perfectly ushered in with a superb vocal tone. The whole composition deserves so much more coverage than it’s getting. This is a breathtakingly good song.