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Lisa’s Top 10 of 2021 

I first embraced my love of music long before attempting to translate the feelings music creates into words. As a kid in school, I started with an ear for jazz and blues, playing clarinet, flute, and saxophone. I picked up an oboe, crossing into orchestral compositions. Folk music’s simplicity became my first love, inspiring me to wholly commit to the music is life dream. 

My 2021 Top 10 list includes the music I return to when life gets weird, a little too good, or just plain chill. It includes albums, EPs, and collections. They all share just one common denominator: released in 2021. The original articles are linked here, just in case you missed ‘em! – Lisa Whealy

10. Dark Wooden Cell Undying Stories from a Fallen World. Empty, yet sublime. The discordant Undying Stories from a Fallen World haunts reality.

9. Paper AnthemThe Year You’ll Never Get Back. Joseph Hitchcock redefines the artistry of indie rock with his third release.

8. Jacob FaurholtChaotic Piano. In six songs, Faurholt’s plaintive vocal style delivers a raw, authentic commentary on humanity.

7. Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal. The 41-song, five-vinyl/three-CD collection via the Neal Casal Music Foundation included Casal’s friends in the music community in response to the songwriter’s suicide. Casal’s life dream of impacting music education, like his dad had done for him at 13 with the gift of his first guitar, is now the melody his spirit has left us with to carry on.

6. Clara Engel Dressed in Borrowed Light. Canadian creative Engel’s Light is an immersive experience, from the artwork and cover design to the music and lyrics. To be relished again and again.

5. Frozen FarmerThings to Share. This record twists Italian folk into musical artistry via genreless imagination.

4. Jody Bigfoot and TandaroDuszt. Nuanced and subtle, Jody Bigfoot’s vibes inhabit a creative universe with producer and multi-instrumentalist Tandoro as both album and film.

3. PinhdarParallel. Italian trip-hop artists Cecilia Miradoli and Max Tarenzi transformed the look of rock to embrace an era of nuanced lyricism wrapped in psychedelic soundscapes.

2. Mike DillonShoot the Moon / Suitcase Man / 1918. Producer Chad Meise’s album trilogy with Dillon is a weird, glorious musical creation born of the punkadelic-funk-psych artist literally trapped off the road he’s toured for three decades. Mentioning Dillon’s work in 900 Foot Jesus, Dead Kenny Gs, and Brave Combo really just touches on the vast body of work available to his musical reimagination.

1. Silas J. DirgeThe Poor Devil. Netherlands-based songwriter Jan Kooiker claimed a spot as one of my favorite all-time songwriters and earned top spot on this list with his brilliant work on The Poor Devil