ONE. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell. There was so much anticipation for this record and it delivered in a huge way as well as massively exceeded expectations. His faint voice and light instrumentation is perfect.
Note: in becoming a continued student of the relationships of music and spirituality, Sufjan's words and songs are especially intriguing. This article is worth a read.
TWO. Leon Bridges: Coming Home. I'm a fan. I love the fresh soul he brings and tribute to Sam Cooke.
THREE.(tied) David Ramirez: Fables. David's work has always resonated well with me. I am a fan of David as a person, as a songwriter, and as a performer. For him and Noah to team up to make this record was a really great gift this year gave.
THREE.(tied) Noah Gundersen: Carry The Ghost. Haunting, beautiful, arresting, tasteful, art. That's all I got.
Note: This record had PHENOMENAL album art. Philip Harder's work on this cover is really incredible.
FIVE. Mutemath: Vitals. I knew that Mutemath was coming out with a record, but I honestly did not expect for it to be so good. I have listened to it so much, and this song is one of my favorites of the whole year.
And in no particular order:
- Ryan Adams. 1989. I love that he did this. I love that he didn't care. And I actually really enjoy it.
- Sandra McCracken. Psalms. Sandra infused so many beautiful melodies into the Pslams - so thrilled for her and how this turned out.
- Jon Foreman. The Wonderlands. Jon's writing shines so brightly through this series of EPs
- Adele. 25. I am not the only one who liked this record a lot.
- Matthew Perryman Jones. Cold Answer. This record seemed to fly totally under the radar, but has some gems on it.
- Brandon Flowers. The Desired Effect. "Between Me & You" is one of my standout tracks of the year.
- Rayland Baxter. Imaginary Man. Rayland has a super fresh voice and a lot to say.
- Chris Stapleton. Traveller. There are only a handful of people or guideposts that I personally look to for music recommendations. Seth posted about Chris Stapleton right when the record came out and I gave it a gander then and immediately thought "What a voice!" America has also caught on and that is fun.
- Lovelite. Hopeful Strangers. Always solid.
- The Japanese House. All releases. TJH is one of the greatest surprises of the year. Cool vocals, some heavy emotional distortion. I love it.
- Oh Wonder. Oh Wonder. Simple and pretty. Some great piano riffs.
- Beirut. No No No. I never gave Beirut a listen before this year and my interest was piqued when I saw their new record released. The sonics and melodies on this record are phenomenal.
- James Bay. Chaos & the Calm. Zero to hero in a seemingly short time and he deserves it.
- Justin Bieber. Purpose. This is an amazingly catchy record.
- Julien Baker. Sprained Ankle. Last "JB" of this list and a pretty important record as far as faith + music is concerned.
- Hillsong United. Empires. Standard greatness.
- Tobias Jesso Jr. Goon. Feels old-timey and I dig it.
- Matthew E White. Fresh Blood. Just enough groove to keep it fresh.
- Coldplay. A Head Full of Dreams. Getting slightly better with every listen.
- Joy Williams. Venus. New Joy & new songs made a great combo. Some solid tracks, but "Sweet Love of Mine" is a standout.
- Ben Rector. Brand New. Ben is a kind man and consistently putting out great work. Stoked on how this record came out.
- Slow Meadow. Slow Meadow. The best instrumental music out there at this point.
- Ivan & Alyosha. It's All Just Pretend. Simply solid.
- Lord Huron. Strange Trails. Continuing down the trail they blazed.
- Lapsley. Understudy. Quite the arresting voice.
And I want to hear about your favorite records. Tweet me! @p_dodd
P.S. Interesting graphic Spotify gave me this from their Year In Review function:
Old quote from Matt, but still challenges me every time I see it:
"If you are not waging a war on the sin in your life or growing in your knowledge, you do not believe in Jesus. Jesus is a historical figure to you."
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