So, here they are … my Top 20 Best Songs of 2017 – not an easy choice given that I’ve listened to 100’s of songs this year. It’s quite an eclectix mix too!
So, make yourself a coffee, or pour a beer or a glass of wine, and sit back and enjoy some fantastic music for the next hour or so.
20. Once Anthony D’Amato
I first became aware of D’Amato when I heard that Ricky Ross had chosen him to support him on his ‘Short Stories Tour’ and thought I’d better listen to him in advance. I liked him immediately. Once is taken from D’Amato’s 2016 album ‘Cold Snap’ which is a real treat with great tunes and witty lyrics. D’Amato also produces amusing music videos and ‘Golden Gloves’ and the politically charged ‘If you’re gonna build a wall’ are well worth checking out. However, Once is my fave from this album.
19. Please Take Me Home Walter Trout
Yes, I know, this was released on the 2015 album ‘Battle Scars’ but Please Take Me Home was one of Trouts standout tracks when I saw him live in October – explaining his wanting to go home and die when he was seriously ill in 2014. This ‘official’ video is two minutes shorter than the album version and shortens a cracking guitar solo, but it’s still a great song.
18. Hold You Tonight Rob Halligan
I first heard Hold You Tonight when Rob played it live at the Rectory House Gig in November and I loved it instantly. There’s no video or live version of this song, however, if you click on the picture above you can listen to the track on Rob’s soundcloud. Taken from the album ‘One Day’ recorded in, quite appropriately, one day!
17. Breaking Down Hamilton Loomis
One of the Carr Family’s favourite musicians – but someone I’ve not blogged too much about, time for that to change! Loomis was the last protégé of the incomparable Bo Diddley. He plays authentic Texas blues with a twist and has a fantastic live set (hoping to persuade him play in Billericay if/when he’s over in the UK in 2018). Breaking Down is taken from his latest album ‘Basics’ which I only picked up when I saw him live in October.
16. Love Like Fire Tommy ‘Woodsmoke’ McNair
First saw ‘Woodsmoke’ busking on the streets of Bath earlier in the year and I was amazed at his musicianship and his songs – I bought the CD there and then! He has a gravel voice similar to Chris Rea! Love Like Fire is taken from his self-produced 2017 album of the same and it is an excellent collection of self-penned smooth Jazz. As you might expect, there aren’t many good quality videos on-line and this is as nearest as I can find – the album version is much better, of course!
15. Circumstance Wildwood Kin
From humble beginnings in Exeter, Wildwood Kin first came to prominence when Seth Lakeman recorded his ‘Ballads of the Broken Few’ album using them as backing musicians as well as showcasing them on last tour. Bob Harris said their ‘Under the Apple Tree’ session was: “One of the most beautiful sessions ever, stunning.” Whilst Circumstance isn’t everyone’s favourite track from there ‘Turning Tides’ album – it’s the stand out track for me!
14. Road Songs For Lovers Chris Rea
Album number 30 something for the gravel-voiced blues man and he treads familiar territory. It’s been quite a while since Chris Rea released an album that wasn’t accompanied by a couple of DVDs or a book of paintings – but this time he’s confined himself to recording an album and it shows – this, to my mind, is his best album since 1985’s ‘Shamrock Diaries.’ The musical class on this record is, of course, a given. It’s blues to fall in love to!
13. I Dare You The xx
I first saw English Indie Pop Band The XX on Later with Jools Holland and was impressed with their mix of tech and instrumentation. I Dare You is taken from their third album ‘I See You’ and it was a hard choice between this and On Hold.
12. Today Brad Paisley
I don’t have the album (I’m not really a great fan) but heard this on the CMT Awards and really like it. One of the few individual downloads I have! You can find it on the album ‘Love and War.’
11. Adios Glen Campbell
This nostalgic last single from Country Legend Glen Campbell is taken from his final album of the same name – painstakingly recorded in 2012. It seems fitting that is it a Jimmy Webb song too. The 2014 film ‘I’ll Be Me’, which documents his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, is both powerful and life affirming and well worth watching.
10. How The West Was Won Peter Perrett
Formerly front man of the 70s New Wave band The Only Ones Perrett emerged from 20 years of drug and alcohol fuelled exile to record his first solo album How The West Was Won with a tour to match. Great to have the distinctive vocals and witty lyrics of Perrett back. Taken from the album of the same name and one of my faves of 2017.
9. Show Carousel
Southend-on-Sea based Carousel find themselves, deservedly so, pretty high up on my favourite songs of 2017. They recently won the Laurel Canyon Music favourite new artist and EP of the year award for 2017 and they are definitely ones to watch in 2018. Find out a little more about them and my Rectory House Gig in January.
8. Drinkin’ Problem Midland
Introduced to these by a friend of mine, Kate Willis, in the summer, Midland took the country world by storm in 2017 with their classic country throwback debut album ‘On the Rocks’ – currently having a huge impact on the USA country charts and winning many awards along the way. The infectious lead single Drinkin’ Problem makes my list! Drinking problem? I don’t have one at all – do you?
7. Why Must I Plead Lauren Housley
Why Must I Plead, a cover version of the Richard Thompson song, is one of the standout tracks from ‘The Beauty Of This Life’ album. Laurel Canyon, labelled this album world-class in a review – I always knew! It was great to have Lauren playing Billericay in 2017 – one of my favourite artists. Surely the ‘big time’ beckons. Glad to know she’ll be showcasing at Americana Music Association UK awards in February in Hackney.
6. Lady Robert Vincent
Robert Vincent won the Americana Music Association UK Bob Harris emerging artist award in 2016 and has gone from strength to stremngth. His ‘I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins’ album has been nopminated for best album of 2016. I voted for it and I’ll be at the awards ceremony! Please remember that I first invited Robert to Billericay back in 2014 when no-one has really heard about him! It was a tie between November and Lady for best song and decided, after much deliberation, to choose this one!
5. It Should’ve Been You Imelda May
‘Life Love Flesh Blood’ was an album that saw May treading new ground in style and appearance and boy does it pay off. An album of gutsy gut-wrenching blues and soul and well worth a listen. It Should Have Been You is the first single released and the standout song. Saw May at the Cork Opera House in October – an outstanding gig in front of a home crowd!
4. The 4:19 Lewis & Leigh
Lewis & Leigh won two awards at the prestigious Americana Music Association UK Awards in 2 February 2017 for best UK Album ‘Ghost’ and best UK Song The 4:19 just a couple of weeks before performing in Billericay. A classy song from a class act.
3. Better Man Little Big Town
Apparently, Taylor Swift pitched the song to Little Big Town via email with a message saying: “I wrote this song and I keep hearing your voices on it. I know you’re making a record – if you want to cut it, great. If not, no big deal.” No big deal? This song won the CMT song of the year award for 2017 alongside Video of the year award.
2. Broken Halos Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton’s ‘From a Room: Volume’s 1 and 2’, both released in 2017, continue his country reign and prove exactly why he continues to win all those Album of the Year and Male Vocalist trophies year after year. Stapleton’s poignant Broken Halos is a song that gained more power as 2017 developed into a year of immense loss, whether it be the death of country legends or the senseless shooting at country festival Route 91 Harvest in Las Vegas. “Don’t go looking for the reasons, Don’t go asking Jesus why, We’re not meant to know the answers” he sings – difficult but true.
1. Tenderheart Sam Outlaw
My favourite song of the year taken from my favourite album of the year. It’s quite coincidental than the great Bob Harris thinks the same – but then I’ve always had an ear for a good song/artist – as those of you who’ve attended my gigs will know. I’ve been shouting about Outlaw’s south California country (Outlaw labels it SoCal) songs for quite a while. If you haven’t checked him out yet, you really should do so.
So, there you have them – my Top 20 Best Songs of 2017. Were any of your choices included? Have I made any significant omissions?
I wanted to include something by Ruth Trimble, who I heard for the first time when she supportd Beth Nielsen Chapman in July, but there was nothing online to link into. Same Sun from Ruth’s second album ‘Before The Rain’ is worth checking out on Spotify!
Have a great 2018 checking out some of the above artists, seeking out new ones and supporting live music in Billericay – or wherever you live.