A Look Back: The Best Music of 2011
- Saturday, December 17, 2011
Noting that the best Broadway songs often go to male leads, Sandi includes medley called "A Doll Sings the Guys" that's probably my least favorite track—at least until she gets to "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables. Like any good Broadway production, the collection wraps up with a big finish, a quintessentially Sandi rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone." For us theater buffs, especially those who are also Sandi Patty fans, Broadway Stories is a must-have.
Adele, the amazing singing-songwriter from England followed her debut release 19 with the amazing compilations of songs that compiled her album 21.
Amazingly, the female crooner covers rock, pop, country, R and B, and gospel music genres. But instead of feeling like a shotgun of styles Adele pulls the songs together with two powerful themes - heartbreak and her deep, soul-filled voice.
None of these 11 songs want to make you rush to the marriage altar. Adele has apparently experienced some relational pain in the past couple of years. It has fueled her lyrics and inspired music anthems that resonate with anyone that has been damaged by love. However the album is far from being fatalistic about opening your heart. If anything the songs speak of self-realization, understanding, voicing the truth, and then moving forward and risking again.
One of the reasons I loved this album so much is it made me go back and listen to 19 again to hear what was happening in Adele's life with her first album. It also makes me eager to hear what will come in the future - hopefully no later than her 23rd year. If she continues on this same path her albums will be a music reflection of her life, which is so much more enlightening than just a dozen songs put onto an album for entertainment reasons.
21 is one of the few albums this year that my whole family agreed to keep in the rotation in our living room stereo. Whether it is the music, the themes, or Adele's amazing voice there are six people in Boise, Idaho that are huge, huge fans.
While some tunes rocking the Cardinal house in 2011 reflected current chart-topping realties (Adele, Lady Antebellum), given a chance to recognize five top albums from the year of the Kardashian (that received much less attention than those sisters), it goes something like this.
Hands down, Paul Simon's So Beautiful or So What proved to be an essential work of art; a legend turning 70 and still arranging easy pop melodies, poetic lyrics, and world rhythms into fresh creations that are often spiritually engaging ("The Afterlife," "Questions for the Angels").
On a related note, Burlap to Cashmere by the long lost New York band of the same name was a nice surprise, bursting with Simon & Garfunkel influence ("Love Reclaims the Atmosphere") and passionate Greek-folk roots ("Orchestrated Love Song"); the comeback of the year.
Switching gears, Augustana's self-titled set met the goal put forth by cool singer Daniel Layus: "to make a big, catchy American rock record" in the spirit of early Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty albums; definitely check out "Wrong Side of Love."
On that note, Relient K Is for Karaoke was an all-out tribute to other artists where the seriously talented, often comical punk-pop group devotedly carbon copied "The Distance" by Cake and made Justin Bieber's "Baby" sound a lot less cheesy. Great fun!
And finally, a wild card; Michael W. Smith's second instrumental project, Glory, bears witness to a remarkable melodist who could be scoring Hollywood films were he not such an in-demand pop and worship performer.
*This article first published 12/16/2011
**Listen to the albums on Spotify
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