All month we've been reviewing lists of our volunteers' favorite music for this year. Of the hundred of albums submitted for consideration, here are the 10 that were cited the most often.
This year the top spot on the list goes to a Chicago artist whose 2nd album made a strong impression on many of our volunteers since its release in May. Call it R&B, call it Neo-Soul, there's no denying its musical power and inspiration.
From all of us at CHIRP, THANK YOU for listening to and supporting independent radio, and Happy New Year!
There was never really a doubt. When the "Zora" single dropped in early February, I got a very particular feeling, the one where I know exactly how great a coming record will be — and I wasn't disappointed. Heavn was good, certainly, but LEGACY! LEGACY! puts it (and every other Chicago release from 2019, for that matter) firmly in the shade with its marriage of high-minded artistic inspiration and carefully crafted R&B. Beautiful start to finish, my only regret is not being able to see her perform it live yet; I guess her conversation with Morgan Parker at Women & Children First and the record of the year will have to console me in the meantime. Such hardship. --Patrick Masterson
#2Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten (Jagjaguwar)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon
Sharon Van Etten’s first four albums successively honed her introspective milieu. She blows that up on Remind Me Tomorrow, with its synth laden atmospherics and booming percussion. For all of those Van Etten admirers who love her vocals and melodies, but wish she’d just rock out more, this is the album for you. --Al Gabor
From time to time, what's good and what's popular collide, and in the 21st century, it's seldom been more the case than with Lizzo's second full-length. A buoyant, affirmation-packed (but never cloying) celebration record. Lizzo was everywhere in 2019, and I was always happy to see and hear her. --Shawn Campbell
Brittany Howard’s Jaime is deeply personal and very powerful. Musically, it’s very varied so it never gets stale —whereas the first Alabama Shakes album was all guts and fire, Jaime goes from subtle and quiet to urgent and loud and back again. Brittany Howard commands your attention and takes you on a journey. --Tony Breed
#6KIWANUKA by Michael Kiwanuka (Interscope/Polydor)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon
A confident Kiwanuka teamed up again with producers Danger Mouse and Inflo to further his intriguing blend of folk, rhythm and blues, and psychedelia. This album builds on its predecessor, Love & Hate, in the best possible ways. Kiwanuka’s vocals are as warm as ever, and he still conjures up wonderful melodies, while he and the producers conjure up a sound rooted in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but with a modern feel. Kiwanuka incisively writes about both personal matters and the ongoing struggle for civil rights with commitment and feeling, creating a very resonate album. --Mike Bennett
Angel Olsen has outdone herself with her fifth full length album. Originally recorded as a very minimal solo record, Olsen decided to turn 180º and re-record the whole album. This second time she was accompanied by a 12-piece orchestra, added synths, and worked with new collaborators. The result is absolutely breathtaking as she sings about love, authenticity, and being seen. The journey of the album - the build to very intense epics paired with quiet and intimate moments - mimics that of real life in a way I've never heard music do before. --Allison Parssi
This album about a breakup, breaks my heart, and has one of the finest f-you, redemption songs of 2019 in track, “You Were Right” - a punchy rock song that I listened to non-stop. On “Body“ Jacklin reflects on the weaponization of her body, asking her lover if he’ll use intimate pictures to hurt her. The whole album is full of emotion, beautiful vocals, and these tender, thought-provoking lyrics. It’s perfect for the cold winter months of contemplation that we have ahead. --Danielle Sines