My Top 20 songs of 2021

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Phil Shaw

1 Bloomsday – Samantha Crain Anthem to hope and a glistening beauty from the Choctaw songwriter, taking its title from James Joyce’s Ulysses, its harmonies from heaven

2 Blame – Gabriels Category-defying sonic feast from Los Angeles showcasing the voice of Jacob Lusk, at once both spiritual and mysterious

3 Like I Used To – Angel Olsen & Sharon Van Etten Heartbreaking big ballad with a Sixties sensibility, channelling Jackie DeShannon as well as Spector and Springsteen

4 Heart Attack – Dave

Brutal, harrowing and compelling rap about knife crime and street violence, and how they ensnare young black men

5 I Do This All the Time – Self Esteem Spoken-word gem from the Sheffield singer Rebecca Lucy Taylor, based on bittersweet experience and topped off by irresistible choruses

6 Robber – The Weather Station The Canadian Tamara Lindeman’s cool vocal, framed by jazzy backing and beats, delivers a timely warning about rising populism

7 Canola Fields – James McMurtry Americana at its finest from the Texan storyteller, rich in landscape and characters; a road movie in under five minutes

8 Mohabbat – Arooj Aftab US-based Pakistani singer’s delicate meditation on love and letting go, which made Barack Obama’s summer playlist

9 Dancing Away In Tears – Yola Bristol’s gift to Nashville, produced by Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, is sumptuous soul tinged with country and roots

10 Change Will Come Anyway – Mauv, Pixx Urgent Krautrock-style rhythm plus airy Kirsty MacColl-like vocal add up to an earworm that climbs to a crescendo 11 Blue Heaven Public Service Broadcasting featuring Andreya Casablanca

12 Brando – Lucy Dacus 13 You Could Have Been A Roosevelt – Aimee Mann


14 Down In The Country – Israel Nash 15 Faceless Angel – The Coral 16 Hold Yourself – Tune-Yards 17 Mine Forever – Lord Huron 18 Brooklyn Bridge – Anaïs Mitchell 19 Call Me A Fool – Valerie June featuring Carla Thomas 20 I Don’t Live Here Anymore – The War On Drugs featuring Lucius

 

MY FAVOURITE COVERS OF THE YEAR

1 The Moon Is Blue (Colourbox)

Future Islands


2 Blind Willie McTell (Bob Dylan)

Chrissie Hynde & James Walbourne

3 Save Yourself (Sharon Van Etten)

Lucinda Williams


4 The Day After Tomorrow (Tom Waits)

Phoebe Bridgers


5 Love Song (Lesley Duncan)

Starry Eyed & Laughing


6 It Don’t Bother Me (Bert Jansch)

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss


7 Name of the Game (Badfinger)

Susanna Hoffs featuring Aimee Mann


8 For Free (Joni Mitchell)

David Crosby featuring Sarah Jarosz


9 The Ballad Of Easy Rider (The Byrds)

The Natvral featuring Jen Goma


10 Days (Television)

Real Estate

 



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