GLW.20.11: SCOTT LAWSON
GLW.20.12: Carl Anderson
GLW.20.13: Ryan Joyce
GLW.20.14: Nick Leddy
GLW.20.15: Desa Warner
Scott Lawson’s Best Albums of 2020
2020 was - somewhat against type - a pretty great year for music. Part of that has to be that, motionless in our Covid stymy, each of us was forced to spend a lot of time inside ourselves. As a result, it has necessarily been the most introspective and reflective year of any of our lifetimes. The combination of boredom and shitless fear will do that. Oh, and Trump.
As always, my listening habits tended this year toward women. There’s no question that there were dozens of great albums by male artists this year, including by Jason Isbell, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Olafur Arnalds, Perfume Genius, Thundercat, Jake Blount, Tame Impala, Andy Schauf, Ben Glover, Bill Frisell, Brian Fallon, Bruce Hornsby, Caleb Caudle, Chatham County Line, Chuck Prophet, Clem Snide, Dan Penn, Hayes Carll, Kruangbin, Marcus King, Matt Pond PA, Matt Rollings, Nada Surf, Nathaniel Rateliff, Paul Kelly, and Peter Himmelman, but it was the female artists who really shined. So, if you’ll forgive me, I’m limiting my list to a group of women who, along with my wife and daughters, made this horrible year bearable.
As is my wont, my list includes the best albums, rather than the best tracks, and they are presented in no particular order. The track referenced in each case is meant to be reflective of the album as a whole.
Soccer Mommy - Color Theory
Track: “Circle The Drain”
Sarah Jarosz - World on the Ground
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
Track: “Can’t Do Much”
I love rock and roll Waxy, but this year she came my way, toward Americana, and I couldn’t be happier.
Kathleen Edwards - Total Freedom
In which one of my favorite singer-songwriters obliquely explains why she decided to give up the music world more than a decade ago in favor of running a coffee shop in Hamilton, Ontario.
Mary Lattimore - Silver Ladders
Track: “Pine Trees”
That rarest of rarities: non-precious harp music.
Adrianne Lenker - songs
Track: “zombie girl”
Big Thief’s singer and songwriter explores more personal and somber themes - if you can imagine that - in this case, sleep paralysis, like, you know, most songs.
Ashley Ray - Pauline
Track: “Lawrence, Kansas”
Tenille Townes - The Lemonade Stand
Track: “The Most Beautiful Things”
Samantha Crain - High Horse (one of three EPs she released this year)
Track: “An Echo”
In which Roy Orbison is a woman.
Buscabulla - Regresa
Track: “El Aprieto”
Taylor Swift - folklore
Combining Taylor Swift with The National? Be still my heart.
Katie Pruitt - Expectations
Lianne La Havas - Lianne La Havas
Track: “Can’t Fight”
HAIM - Women in Music Pt. III
Cindy Cashdollar - Waltz for Abilene
Track: “Waltz for Abilene”
Anyone who, like me, plays, or has tried to play, dobro and pedal steel worships Cindy Cashdollar.
Elizabeth Cook - Aftermath
Track: “When She Comes”
The Innocence Mission - See You Tomorrow
In which The Innocence Mission travels from 1989 to rescue 2020.
Jenny O. - New Truth
Track: “Even If I Tried”
Lily Hiatt - Walking Proof
Track: “Some Kind of Drug”
I can make a good argument for this being the album of the year.
Lori McKenna - The Balladeer
Track: “The Dream”
Lydia Loveless - Daughter
Track: “Love Is Not Enough”
Margaret Glaspy - Devotion
Track: “So Wrong It’s Right”
The Go-Go’s - Got the Beat
Track: “Club Zero”
Jane Wiedlin is a great pop songwriter.