Usually by the end of the year, the Internet floods with the best of everything lists. When the time comes to make said lists, I imagine I’m not the only one who feels like it’s a huge project to just remember everything I’ve heard in twelve months. So, since we are just over the halfway point in an exceptionally good year for music, I thought it would be fun to talk about our favorite albums so far.
It’s only scratching the surface of this year’s goodness, but I’ll get things started with five I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order. What would you add? What do you have on repeat until The Burning Edge of Dawn comes out?
Disclaimer: In the interest of fun / pointless self-imposed rules / sharing new things with friends, I decided to only include artists that haven’t been covered at The Rabbit Room yet. So yes, do go read Matt Conner’s post about Josh Garrels’ fantastic new record and buy everything Andrew Osenga releases, especially when it involves glorious ’90s rock riffs.
The Lone Bellow – Then Came the Morning
While the tight harmony and alt-country vibe of their first album might have had The Lone Bellow poised to be the new Civil Wars, Then Came the Morning, the second album from the Brooklyn-based Americana trio, favors a more raw and spacious sound that embraces many shades of American music — Elvis, rootsy country, gospel, and a touch of indie are all in the mix somewhere.
Dave Barnes – Hymns for Her
Dave Barnes has been making great pop albums for a long time, but this moodier, stripped down EP has become my favorite thing he’s ever done. With spare production and gorgeous string arrangements by Ben Shive, this brief collection of love songs shines in its simplicity.
Mat Kearney – Just Kids
I have a deep, abiding, and (mostly) unashamed love for pop music, and Mat Kearney makes some of the best. If each album has a unique theme and flavor, Just Kids is a nostalgic trip, exploring themes of home and identity through a creative mix of ’90s inspired sounds and memories of Kearney’s Oregon childhood.
The Brilliance – Brother
A stunning album that rethinks the modern worship record into a haunting musical liturgy. Brother is understated indie pop that moves along at a slow, meditative pace, pairing thoughtful lyrics with ethereal sounds. This isn’t a typical worship album, but a collection of songs that weave a lovely soundtrack for personal contemplation.
Jon Foreman – Sunlight EP
If you haven’t heard his first set of EPs yet, go forth and discover the awesome. Then join me in eagerly awaiting the rest of The Wonderlands, another set of four EPs, this time exploring the hours of every day. Jon Foreman is especially compelling when he writes about the brevity and beauty of life, making art with a philosophical edge.
Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.