James Wilson Top 5 of 2020

It’s easy to say that 2020 will be a year not easily forgotten. For many, music has been a massive help to get people through these challenging times. As much as it has been tough for musicians too, we would like to thank them for creating songs that have been a support throughout it all. 

Like previous years, I have challenged myself to select the five albums or EP’s which have stood out the most. Honestly, I didn’t think there would be many. However, when compiling the list, I was surprised by how many there were. 

Now to the top five. Each artist/band offer something different from the others. Some will make you ponder things in your life, while others will absorb the listener within their stories, while others will make you smile and dance. Let the list begin! 

5) The Far North with Songs for Gentle Souls

There was high expectation for The Far North‘s debut album after the release of their single “This House is Ours”. Well, Songs for Gentle Souls did not disappoint. It stands out due to the way they connect with their music. As a result, it gives each song a soul and pulls in the listener. There are so many moments which this quality shines. Of them all, “Branches”, “Sleep Tight Songbird” and “1994” steal the spotlight the most. It is one of those releases which has an irresistible charm that is hard to resist.

4) Mark Ridout with Bravery

Mark Ridout has built himself a reputation for his laid back acoustic style of sound. However, his latest album shows a different side to his songwriting with a collection of songs which feels personal to him. There is a warmth to his tone as he shares each of his stories, which float along so effortlessly. Here is an album that is a beautiful listen from beginning to end. Along the way, you get to experience extra special moments with “Bravery” and “Flood”.

3) Half Deaf Clatch with Every Path Leads Here

Regular readers will know that I’m always on the lookout for blues artists who haven’t appeared on my radar. I was delighted to stumble across Half Deaf Clatch (aka Andrew McLatchie). This guy embodies what blues music is all about, not only that but the way he makes his guitar sing is stunning. I have bought a lot of his albums this year, including his latest offering Every Path Leads Here. He has described it as “10 deeply personal songs”. There is something special about the lyrics, how they are delivered and its soundtrack supplied by his six-string friend. Here is an album is essential listening, especially the flawless track “The Endless River”. 

2) Gitta De Ridder with To Our Children

It has been a pleasure to hear the music by Gitta De Ridder evolve over the years. The quality of her songwriting has never failed to impress, along with her voice. These talents have excelled further on her latest album To Our Children. It offers a slightly different tone to her previous releases as it offers a wider range of sounds. What makes this release shine further, is the added depth and personal quality about her lyrics. Her delivery is mesmerising as the song “Hypothetical You or I” can testify. Just give it a listen as it will not disappoint. 

1) Smoove and Turrell with Stratos Bleu

The number one spot was an easy choice as Smoove and Turrell brought the feel-good factor. It has been a crazy year, but these guys have delivered the happy vibes with their album Stratos Bleu. It offers something a little different to their prior albums due to the addition of electronic elements. This addition to their winning formula ensured that once you press play, they make it difficult for the listener to stay still. The energy it gives off makes you want to dance, even if you think you can’t. The perfect example of this is the tracks “Do It”, “It’s You” and the funkalicous “Never Wanted You More”. Just press play and let the good times roll.

2020 has been outstanding for new music, even if other things have not. Let’s look forward to the New Year, which is already teasing some exciting releases.

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