Written by Tim Martin on December 28, 2020
I’m getting fed up with complaining about 2020. We all know what it’s been like so let’s talk about the music.
December has been a really good month for releases. Normally it’s all about Christmas music and anything good either gets buried under a ton of tinsel or held back until the new year.
First up has to be ‘McCartney III‘. The latest installment in his properly solo albums, following on from 1970 and 1980. Yes, his voice isn’t what it was, but he knows that and sings within his range. McCartney’s one and two contain some of his best post Beatles writing. ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, and ‘One of These Days’ being the best. Paul’s ability to stay current without sounding like he’s chasing fads is one of his great strengths. ‘Coming Up’ was one of the best songs of 1980, and here we have some new McCartney classics that could only be from the 21st century. ‘Find My Way’ is as good a current pop song as you’ll hear this year. The album is bookended by the Celtic tinged ‘Long Tailed Winter Bird’ and ‘Winter Bird/When Winter Comes’. The latter is one of those acoustic tunes that Paul can do like no one else. In time this will be up there with ‘Blackbird’ as a great McCartney ballad. Following on from his best “band” album in a long time, 2018’s ‘Egypt Station‘, he has clearly hit an Autumnal purple patch. As the Beatle we tend to take for granted we will only truly know what we’ve lost when he’s gone, let’s appreciate him while he’s here.
Taylor Swift has popped up with her second album of 2020. ‘Evermore’, like ‘Folklore’ is the sound of Swift growing up. Pitchfork described it as “the quietest, most elegant music of her career”, and they are right. Working again with The National’s Aaron Dessner as well as Haim and Bon Iver, the collaborations have maybe taken her lyrics in a different direction, away from the rather over sharing and self-absorbed words of her recent records. Oh my god I might be turning into a fan…
In independents land the gifts keep on coming. Best classic rock album of the year goes to Magic Dance’s ‘Remnants’. Jon Siejka’s project now into its fourth album is a mix of 80s guitars and synths and the sort of anthems you thought they didn’t make anymore. His label Frontiers keeps up an amazingly high quality of releases, with Blue Oyster Cult, Orianthi and Palace all bringing out great new Melodic rock albums this month.
Scottish singer Kim Edgar has released her first new music for a while. A long-time collaborator with Karine Polwart, and others why she isn’t a major star is beyond me. Her songs are consistently excellent, played and sung in an understated style that gets under your skin. Try ‘Held’ and then work your way through the rest of her catalogue.
So, that’s four albums which say, “bring on 2021”. Whatever the state of the industry, there are clearly going to be artists working away to produce music that demands your attention. Happy New Year, after all.
Produced By Tim Martin
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