All lists are subjective. My own “end of year”list has shifted a half dozen times until a certain approach began to focus the hundreds of releases from 2017. As I will explain on the audio, 2017 began and ended with discussions about the treatment and role of Women in our culture. So, I began to gather female artists whose music intrigued me and challenged me. The originality of the project as well as the importance of the subject matter played a prominent part in these selections. The first hour of the broadcast catalogs several songs from each of the albums discussed.
Front Country’s release “Other Love Songs” is tied for Ninth with Lee Ann Womack’s “The Lonely”. Valerie June’s “The Order of Time” is tied with Sharon Jones and the DapKings’ “Soul of a Woman” for eighth. Molly Tuttle’s “Rise” is the seventh release of 2017 followed by Hurray For the RiffRaff’s “The Navigator” at Six. Mavis Staple’s amazing release “If All I Was Was Black” is my choice for Fifth Best release.
This last audio segment covers the final Top Four Albums in 2017. The segment begins with two additional cuts from Mavis Staples and proceeds with number Four; Dori Freeman’s sophomore release, “Letters Never Read”. Margo Price’s “All American Made” earns the Third Best release by virtue of songs about the working poor and the pay gap between men and women. A gorgeous duet with Willie Nelson called “Learning To Lose” is also featured. Nine Volt Heart’s number two release is Amanda Ann Platt and The Honeycutters. This Asheville NC songwriter was a guest on my show a month ago when she discussed the two cuts I feature, “Birthday Song” and “Learning How To Love Him” which I think is one of the most devastatingly sad and beautiful song of 2017.
Nine Volt Heart’s most important and a clear Number One this year is Rhiannon Gidden’s “Freedom Highway”. I chose to feature her version of Richard Farina’s “Birmingham Sunday” and “We Could Fly” but any number of cuts from this rich and satisfying release would showcase the amazing vocal prowess along with devastating lyrical content. The release contains a handful of meticulously researched slave narratives and concludes with The Staples Singers “Freedom Highway”. Important intelligent heartfelt work deserving of it’s premier spot in our Best of 2017 list.