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Rewinding 2019 | The Rootless Singer-Songwriters

The best and the rest of the year's twang-free troubadours.

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I reviewed enough singer-songwriter albums this year that I decided to divide them into two groups. If you’re interested in the poppier kind — your piano balladeers, your heartland-rock troubadours, your indie-pop types — you’re in the right place. Here are the ones that made the grade in 2019:


TINNITIST’S PICK

Bruce Springsteen
Western Stars

Life, it is said, is about the journey and not the destination. That certainly rings true for Bruce Springsteen — though for him, it also seems to be about the detours and side trips that take him away from his E Street home. Like his recent Broadway stint. Or his autobiography. Or even his latest studio album Western Stars. The 69-year-old singer-songwriter’s 19th studio outing and first solo release since 2005’s Devils and Dust is off the beaten path. Lush and sophisticated, majestic and sweeping, these 13 tracks find Springsteen expanding his sonic and stylistic horizons with grand orchestral arrangements and cinematic expanse. He says it was influenced by Southern California pop music of the 1970s — but we’re not talking Fleetwood Mac and Journey here. We’re talking Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell, Harry Nilsson and Burt Bacharach. We’re talking the rich, warm sound of songs like By The Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman and Everybody’s Talkin’ — but populated by Springsteen’s latest cast of misfits, wanderers, blue-collar heroes and broken men.

READ THE FULL REVIEW AND HEAR THE ALBUM HERE


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Art Alexakis | Sun Songs
Joseph Arthur | Come Back World
Sara Bareilles | Amidst The Chaos
Jade Bird | Jade Bird
Gena Rose Bruce | Can’t Make You Love Me
Lloyd Cole | Guesswork
Madison Cunningham | Who Are You Now
Sam Fender | Hypersonic Missiles
Craig Finn | I Need a New War
Glen Hansard | This Wild Willing
Joe Henry | The Gospel According to Water
Brittany Howard | Jaime
Erik Koskinen | Burning the Deal
Ada Lea | What We Say in Private
Lee Harvey Osmond | Mohawk
Mattiel | Satis Factory
Cass McCombs | Tip of the Sphere
Grace Potter | Daylight
Jeff Tweedy | Warmer
Sharon Van Etten | Remind Me Tomorrow
Adia Victoria | Silences
Pete Yorn | Caretaker

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