Monday, January 2, 2017

the stars and moon

In 2016 a lot of albums let me down.  Many more gave me one or two songs that I will love forever. And very few are treasures that continue to give me strength, hope, joy and inspiration.  

Top 10 Favorite albums of 2016 (with a few 2015 albums I didn't get my hands on until after 2016)

10. American Authors - What We Live For (favorite song - Superman)
9. M.I.A. - Aim (favorite song - Freedun)
8. Adele - 25 (favorite song - When We Were Young)
7. Walter Martin - Arts & Leisure (favorite song - Michelangelo) 
6. Lauren Daigle - How Can It Be (favorite song - Once And For All)

5. Mat Kearney - Just Kids

I am sad I never heard of Mat Kearney until this year, but I am incredibly jazzed I saw his album peeking at me while working at the library.  He raps and sings very relatable lyrics that punch me right in the heart.  It's really tough to pick a favorite song.  Perhaps Los Angeles. I don't keep albums in their entirety.  I'm not afraid to toss a song that I don't like.  Just Kids is one of those rare albums that remains intact in my iTunes collection.  Mat Kearney's words demand more attention than I can usually give, but I'm going to forever lend an ear to lyrics like this, "This is for the two-year olds who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half God."

4. NF - Therapy Session 

There's a lot of 'look at me now' stuff going on here, which is a little reminiscent of Eminem. But unlike Eminem NF really is evolving as a person and artist. Like Eminem, NF is angry.  But NF's anger lacks hostility or sensationalism.  He thanks his higher power. He cries unabashedly about his mom's drug overdose while rapping that music is the only place that he can go to speak to her. And there's no women-bashing or cussing here. Add to this a potent dose of trailer music and you have one therapy session you will never miss, no matter how good you have it.  Intro 2 is a clear winner as far as songs go, but there are many songs that will rip the tears out of your face and give you a safe haven for your emotions. 

3. Rachel Platten - Wildfire

Rachel Platten's voice is very much like her album cover: sparkly, firey and magical. Unlike her album cover, which shows a fierce face, Rachel Platten's voice has such an endearing vulnerability to it. Over the past year I have listened to Wildfire while writing, practicing tennis on the backboard, sewing, dancing, pretty much everything.  And though Piano Guys took her song, Fight Song, and killed it, I still love her version of it.  My favorite song, surprise surprise, is 'Stand By You.' I will definitely never grow tired of hearing it.  

2. Kygo - Cloud Nine

Gosh, this album simply throws me into euphoria. When I first listened to the songs I couldn't figure out what was going on.  So many of my favorite artists - Angus & Julia Stone, John Legend and Labrinth collaborating with something strange, something bubbly and inspirational and wild. Turns out the something strange is this DJ guy, Kygo, who is Godlike in his ability to create soulful, sugary, piano-heavy beats in collaboration with some very exciting artists.  It's a little like putting a trampoline inside a gumball machine and then getting to live there in merry bouncy bliss.  My favorite song is Fragile, which is a fairly peppy song about how some people think it's ok to treat fragile people like shit, and when Labrinth starts wailing and breaking windows with his voice that sound is exactly the feeling fragile people get when other people break into their gumball world and chew it to pieces.  

1. Enya - Dark Sky Island

When this album came out there was no doubt in my mind that it would be my favorite album this year.  I cried even as I opened the case the first time.  Eerily and perfectly enough, Enya's albums have come out whenever I need them most.  Her music is perfect for a good cry, but also creates instant wings to lift me away from whatever is burying me in sadness.

When I escaped my depression in my teens A Day Without Rain drained me of my demons while simultaneously carrying me away from them. When my mom and grandma grew wings and left Hermit's Holler I cried both tears of joy and sadness while listening to 'Long, Long Journey' from her album Amarantine.  And later, when I thought I would never graduate college, the album, And Winter Came gave me the strength to keep going.  Now, as I struggle to surface from the loss of my grandma and the knowledge and acceptance that I will never have the unconditional love of a person I love unconditionally, I know that Dark Sky Island will keep me from drowning. My favorite song, 'Astra Et Luna,' is soothingly sweeping and uplifting.  I have listened to it so much that it now surpasses nearly every song in number of plays.

Enya is 55 and her voice is just as sweet and crisp as the moment I first listened to her 16 years ago. And her albums always find their way to me when I most need them. 

I will leave you with my favorite song of the year: Astra Et Luna

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