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Best Albums 2020

Top 2020 releases plus more

Waylon Payne – Photo: LTTL

By Rob Dickens

Introduction and Observations

Welcome to our ‘Best Of’ Vol VIII.

I am writing this a little later this year. Maybe it’s a reflection of the lethargy that 20-bloody-20 has left us with. We’ve endured about ten months of pandemic news, restrictions, debates, border closures, travel plans scuttled and not being able to see our loved ones.

Musically, I managed to get to just two festivals and a handful of gigs before all hell broke loose. The Listening Through The Lens 2020 Music Tour was well advanced before it became a casualty, the thought of travelling from Australia to the American South now seeming to be so remote and fanciful that I feel like laughing and crying simultaneously.

B..U..T..

what has sustained us and lifted our spirits in an immeasurable manner during this blight of a year is the amazing flow of wonderful recorded music released. So many fine albums issued when the artists cannot tour on the back of them thereby unable to supplement their income through the normal ticket sales nor merchandise vending.

This is a little late for sure, but I like taking the maximum time to get to hear as much music as possible and it’s relatively quiet part of the year. The process of assembling this article was slow at the start but turned out to be cathartic.

Departure Lounge

Vale to these notables who left us in 2020

Bill Withers – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame soul singer

Billy Joe Shaver – Texas outlaw country singer and songwriter

Bob Shane – last surviving member of The Kingston Trio

Bonnie Pointer – member of The Pointer Sisters

Charley Pride –  Country Music Hall of Fame country singer

Charlie Daniels – Country Music Hall of Fame member

David Olney – Americana singer/songwriter (suffered a fatal heart attack onstage during a performance at the 30A Festival in Florida)

Eddie Van Halen – guitarist extraordinaire

Ennio Morricone – one of the all-time film composer greats

Eric Weissburg – musician on “Duelling Banjos” and “Blood On The Tracks”

Hal Ketchum – country singer with many hit singles

Helen Reddy – activist and “I Am Woman” singer

Jerry Jeff Walker – outlaw country singer and writer of “Mr. Bojangles”

Jimmy Capps – Musicians Hall of Fame guitar player and Grand Ole Opry player

John Prine – legendary folk and Americana singer and songwriter

Johnny Mandel – composer including the “M*A*S*H” theme

Johnny Nash – singer of “I Can See Clearly Now”

Justin Townes Earle – Americana singer/songwriter (too soon!)

Kenny Ingram – acclaimed banjo player

Kenny Rogers – Country Music Hall of Fame and cross-over hit singer

Little Richard – rock ‘n’ roll legend

Mac Davis – Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member

Paul EnglishWillie Nelson’s longtime drummer

Pete Carr – Muscle Shoals guitarist and Musicians Hall of Famer

Peter GreenFleetwood Mac founder, master guitarist and writer

Roy Head – Rockabilly Hall of Fame member

Spencer Davis – founder of The Spencer Davis Group

Tony Rice – Bluegrass Hall of Fame guitarist

Toots Hibbert – lead singer of Toots and the Maytals

Trini Lopez – folk singer including “If I Had A Hammer”

W.S. ‘Fluke’ Holland – Johnny Cash’s drummer for almost forty years

John Prine – Photo: LTTL

From The Cockpit

Valerie June – Photo: LTTL

Plenty to look forward to as the announced new releases are piling up, ready to fill our post-holiday stockings.

Jeff Tweedy, Lucero, Langhorne Slim, Fleet Foxes, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Willie Nelson, Pat Metheny, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Jessi Colter, John Mellencamp, Carrie Underwood, Selwyn Birchwood, Rod Abernethy, The Dead South, Ani DiFranco, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Tash Sultana, Loretta Lynn, Lydia Luce, Steve Earle & the Dukes (physical release of ‘JT’), Simpson Sturgill, Valerie June, James McMurtry, Midland, The Steel Woods and a tribute to Cody Canada and Cross Canadian Ragweed.

Ani DiFranco – Photo: LTTL

Past Winners

2019 YolaWalk Through Fire

2018 Colter WallSongs Of The Plains

2017 Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway

2016 Darrell Scott – The Couchville Sessions

2015 Chris Stapleton – Traveller

2014 Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

2013 Jason Isbell – Southeastern

Past Lists

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

Best Of 2020

30 Caleb Claudle – Better Hurry Up
29. Allison Forbes – Bonedigger
28. Moe Pitney – Ain’t Lookin’ Back
27. Matt Rollings – Matt Rollings Mosaic
26. Sarah Siskind – Modern Appalachia
25. Nathaniel Rateliff – And It’s Still Alright
24. Kathleen Edwards – Total Freedom
23. Elizabeth Cook – Aftermath
22. Katie Pruitt – Expectations
21. Fleet Foxes – Shore
20. Low Cut Connie – Private Lives
19. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
18. Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You
17. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
16. Colter Wall – Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs
15. The Jayhawks – XOXO
14. Sarah Jarosz – World On The Ground
13. Charley Crockett – Welcome To Hard Times
12. Van Walker – Ghosting
11. American Aquarium – Lamentations
10. Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling
9. Lucinda Williams – Good Souls Better Angels
8. Anthony Garcia – Acres of Diamonds
7. Cinder Well – No Summer
6. Waylon Payne – Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me
5. Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
4. Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers
3. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions
2. Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Vol 1 : The Butcher Shoppe Sessions
1. Chris Stapleton – Starting Over

OFFICIAL CHRIS STAPLETON SITE

That’s it! Again, we welcome any comments – drop a witty (or otherwise) aside or observation below, email team@listeningthroughthelens.com, add a line in our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds.

Bring on 2021! Wear your masks, get a jab, wash your hands, don’t cough, get tested, wash your hands again, maintain your distance and things might get a lot better, sooner than you think!

More music adventures await (actually, any live music would be nice at least).

ADVERTISE WITH LISTENING THROUGH THE LENS

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Top 2020 releases plus more

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Author: Rob Dickens

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