On the record 2017, Part 9: Tortured souls but great songs

This is the penultimate round-up of albums for this year’s adventure and more than ever I am getting concerned about having to narrow down the incredible selection of music I’ve listened to in 2017 to just five best albums of the year, and which should be added to my top ten of all time.

These five weeks have had a great variety to them, with some excellent surprises. I loved Johnny Cash, and wasn’t so keen on The B-52’s, with the rest of pop and country filling in the gaps.

Week 41

  • Now, Shania Twain
    Lovely album from Shania, it’s incredible to think it’s her first in 15 years. The songs veer from positive life-affirming pop to serious personal pain, but all with the sheen of pop-country that you come to expect from Shania. Never gonna beat Come On Over as an album, but an incredible return.
  • With His Blue and Hot Guitar, Johnny Cash
    Something about Johnny Cash’s deep and sultry voice just washes over you and wraps you in a comforting blanket – even when he’s singing about troubling topics. Prison, death, heartbreak, and just the occasional glimpse of love going right, this is a brilliant, if short, debut album.

Week 42

  • Beautiful Trauma, P!nk
    Was really looking forward to this after the genius of What About Us, and for the most part it totally delivered. It felt like a rollercoaster of emotions on the first listen, but it really grew on me on the second. With the documentary giving a bit of extra insight to some of the songs, as well, it really helps make this one shine.
  • Foreigner, Foreigner
    I am adamant that if Cold as Ice was made today, it would sound totally legit and fit in with the current music scene. The rest of the album, not so much. It’s good but very seventies, very of its time. Things get off to a good start with Feels Like the First Time and Cold as Ice, but the rest of it is less memorable.

Week 43

  • Younger Now, Miley Cyrus
    Wasn’t expecting too much from this – I’m totally on board with Miley reinventing herself whenever she has a mind too, but it was sold as an updated take on fifties beats. Odd. But actually it really works for me. I like almost all the songs, and they have a good, chilled out, mostly positive vibe.
  • Camino Palmero, The Calling
    Love this album. I know it from old, one of my favourites, and it’s still up there. Just plain simple guitar rock, tortured souls but great songs, and some real gems including Wherever You Will Go and Things Don’t Always Turn Out That Way. Could listen over and over.

Week 44

  • The Meaning of Life, Kelly Clarkson
    Really solid album from Kelly Clarkson. It occurred to me before I listened that I only really knew the singles and very little else about Kelly, but still managed to love her. This album just adds to that: great vocals, some great hooks, and a nice overall positive feeling about love, life and everything in between.
  • Cosmic Thing, The B-52’s
    Hmm, not my cup of tea really. I like Love Shack, and the album is stacked full of the quirky nature that makes that song fun. But, I think it’s all quite samey and aside from one instrumental at the end, it could basically be a 45 minute version of Love Shack, and I’m not sure I like it THAT much.

Week 45

  • Unapologetically, Kelsea Ballerini
    Love this album, it’s very much like the first – nice, simple, clean and crisp country songs with a youthful edge, and plenty of unique moments to make it stand out from the crowd. I thought this album indulged a little more in the “we’re not in high school anymore” vibe, with plenty of references to US high school tropes that I’ve only seen in movies, but even with that, it’s still up there with the best albums of the year.
  • Eyes Open, Snow Patrol
    This album speaks so clearly of a specific point in time, midway through the noughties, where music was transitioning from fun pop to the more grungy pop that it is today. Guitar bands were prevalent and Snow Patrol were one of the best. Some great songs on this album so that I can’t believe I haven’t listened to it all before!