weird-banjo-pic-copyFor me 2019 was not a particularly memorable year for music. I found pleasure in some old favorites but made no significant new discoveries.
Mostly, female artists struck the strongest chords with me. Billie Eilish’s debut ‘When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go’ and Lana Del Ray’s ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ were rightly rated highly in many ‘best of’ lists.
I wrote around 10 reviews a month for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ , about half of my output from the previous year.

Very few of these were terrible but, equally, there weren’t many to get excited about. Of the albums I reviewed, the five releases I ranked highest were:
The Question by Anna Tivel
Good Company by Kalyn Fay
Hush The Wild Horses – Rachel Harrington
Delicious Monster – Storm The Palace
Traitors Gate – Fernando Viciconte

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Hildur Guðnadóttir

Elsewhere, I was pleased to see Icelandic cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir get the acclaim she richly deserves with remarkable soundtracks to Joker (best film of the year) and Chernobyl (best TV series of the year). The You Tube interview where she explains how these came into being is a delight.
I was pleased to see Thom Yorke hitting his stride and looking more relaxed as a solo artist with ‘Anima’. The track ‘Dawn Chorus’ from this was my favorite song of the year. I was lucky enough to see him perform this live at Ferrara in a spectacular stage show.

That was my gig of the year although I also thoroughly enjoyed a couple of shows in Bologna; one by Glen Hansard and the other by Aldous Harding. My only reservation about the latter is that I fear her natural intensity and weirdness runs the risk of becoming overly mannered. She needs to develop a warmer side to her stage persona.

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Lucinda Williams at Birmingham Town Hall

Harding could do no worse that take a few lessons from an old hand like Lucinda Williams who I had the privilege of seeing at Birmingham Town Hall performing ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’ in its entirety. During this show she told the audience how thrilled she was to be playing in the city of Peaky Blinders.

The brilliantly chosen soundtrack to season 5 of this inspired TV series was a reminder how well chosen tracks can enhance a drama rather than simply serving as background music. Oldies but goldies by artists like Black Sabbath, Joy Division, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and Radiohead rub shoulders with newer songs from Anna Calvi,Hotel Lux, Royal Blood and Idles.

Here’s hoping that 2020 provides plenty of surprises and inspiration.