Notes, December 2020 Edition

Hello everyone! For this month’s Notes, I’m going to do an end-of-year recap/highlight thing and talk about the music that was my favorite from the year. Specifically, I’m giving a Top 5 of the albums I discovered this year – each Notes is usually a mix of new stuff I’ve discovered and stuff I already loved that I wanted to share with you. But this end-of-year review is for just the things that were new to me in 2020, even if they weren’t “new” albums overall.

RTJ4, by Run the Jewels. My thoughts on this incredible album are here. Suffice to say this album has held up incredibly well, and it’s been the album on this list that I’ve made other people listen to more than anything else on this list.

Letter to You, by Bruce Springsteen. The Boss returns at his absolute best – if you were a deep fan of Springsteen, this will be your favorite of his albums. If you hate Springsteen, this might well be the once exception. My thoughts here.

Folklore, by Taylor Swift. Swift actually released another album between the release of Folklore and this post, and while the new album (Evermore) is very good, it isn’t as good as Folklore. In fact, nothing she’s done has been as good as Folklore, and that’s coming from someone who likes a great deal of her work. There was a lot of drama surrounding the transition between the writing of her first six albums and the writing of her last three (too much for me to recount here), but the latter circumstances have clearly been conducive to her having significantly more creative freedom and energy.

Fish Outta Water, by Karen Lovely. I’ve continued to add more Karen Lovely to my collection, and overall this is an artist I was thrilled to discover, not just a single album I liked. My original thoughts here.

Cuttin’ Grass, by Sturgill Simpson. This one gets the list for two reasons: one – because the album is incredible; and two – because I discovered in listening to his other albums that he has absolutely incredible range. The album released before this one, Sound & Fury, has a completely different (but equally amazing) style to it, and discovering a new artist at such depth is really great.

And lest you think that this is just a “greatest hits” episode, I do have one new entry for you – and quite honestly, it gives every one of these a run for their money. Heck, it gives all albums a run for their money:

McCartney III, by Paul McCartney. Have you ever heard of this guy? Kind of obscure, I know. But seriously – this album is so good I put it on and just froze in place for the entirety of the first track, unable to move. Unable to think. I could barely breathe, and I’m not overselling it. The entire album is McCartney reminding everyone how it is well and truly done.

Happy new year, everyone. May it – and all the years that follow – be filled with music.

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