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
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.
2. Mike Dillon – Shoot 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. Dirge – The 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.