Music released in 2020 to the rescue! Seriously though, I’m not sure if I’d have made it even as intact as I am without the lift, Joy, and tears these musicians and their craft have brought me. All told, I’d rate the year of music as a solid 4.225 out of 5, and a great beginning to a new decade of tunes. So without further ado…Onward to my Top 20 Albums of the Year!
20. Holden Days – Sylvan Lands II (4 Stars)
A silky smooth soundtrack for that space between dreaming and waking up. Sylvan Lands is flat-out gorgeous.
A terrific review can be found here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/murlough23.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/holden-days-sylvan-lands-vol-ii-move-like-a-dream/amp/
19. The Porter’s Gate – Justice Songs/Songs of Lament (4 Stars)
Really two separate albums here but I believe they need each other for fuller context. A beautiful challenge to the church to rise up and make no peace with oppression.
A great read and review of these albums can be found here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/artandtheology.org/2020/09/12/songs-of-lament-and-justice-by-the-porters-gate/amp/
18. Chase Tremaine – Unfall (4 Stars)
You’d be hard pressed to find many albums with as excellent guitar work as what is present here on Tremaine’s full-length debut. Some parts indie rock, emo, and alt-pop, it’s all good whatever you call it.
If you love it consider supporting (aka streaming and purchasing) Chase’s music here: https://chasetremaine.bandcamp.com/album/unfall
17. Benjamin Daniel – Shaping Season 1 (4 Stars)
Great finger-picked melodies and top-notch lyrics make Benjamin Daniel an artist to watch. The follow up album (Shaping Season 2) is due next year and eagerly awaited.
Go buy you some Benjamin Daniel’s tunes here: https://benjamindanielmusic.bandcamp.com
16. Off Road Minivan – Swan Dive (4 Stars)
This 2000s era alt-rock album was a nice surprise on the year.
15. The Classic Crime – Patterns In The Static (4 Stars)
Though some of the lyrical content borders on bleak, it’s easy to listen to this Uber-catchy pop/rock gem.
14. The Brilliance – Suite No. 2: The World Keeps Spinning (4 Stars)
Lush instrumentation and some Radiohead influence make for a stirring and pretty listen.
Full Review from Mason: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/SuiteNo2WorldKeepsSpinning.asp
13. Slick Shoes – Rotation & Frequency (4 Stars)
This is an undeniably good punk album with the best guitar work of the year in my opinion. Objectively this is top 10 material but I never could latch onto it for repeat personal listens for some reason. Great stuff here regardless.
Full Review from Scott Fryberger and a Second Opinion from Michael Weaver: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/RotationandFrequency.asp
12. Lecrae – Restoration (4 stars)
Certainly my most-listened to hip-hop album of the year, Restoration flirted with Top 10 status for a long time though it ultimately missed. Barely. Lots of bangers here that are fun to turn up loud.
2 Review Opinions Here: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/RestorationLecrae.asp
11. Wake Low – Self-Titled – (4 Stars)
If there had been more time to spend with this one it might just have cracked into upper-tier. As it is it was my most streamed album of November so there’s that. Ultimately I liked the other project the Peterson kids were involved in just a bit more…
10. Ella Mine – Dream War (4 Stars)
I still don’t fully get this album, but it’s continued to vex me in a good way drawing me back again and again. It’s largely piano-based with some harder rocking moments, and there is plenty of story being told as well. I deem this debut by Ella Mine alluring.
9. Nashville Life Music – Here For Jesus (4 Stars)
This is simply a fun album and I haven’t grown tired of its peppy encouragement. Love the 70s vibe.
8. Gable Price & Friends – Fractioned Heart (4 Stars)
These fellas are extremely good, with light echoes of fellow indie-musician John Mark McMillan. Fractioned Heart is passionate and pure, bringing 80s-soaked indie Sonics to the table for a fresh take on modern worship music.
7. NAMO – Self-Titled (4 Stars)
Collective of up-and-coming artists all masterfully produced for a cohesive electronic-pop album full of catchy songs.
6. Needtobreathe – Out of Body (4 stars)
I should never doubt this bands ability and versatility. Out of Body has a little something for every era of fan, including a radio-ready ballad, two barn-burners and a treasure trove of lyrical nuggets to chew on.
5. Citizens – Joy of Being (4.5 Stars)
Citizens has been a band on my periphery for a long time, but The Joy of Being assertively got my attention. Hopeful longing and celebration abounds. I needed this one this year.
4. John Mark McMillan – Peopled With Dreams (4.5 stars)
Still going strong a decade later McMillan continues to craft some of the best tunes the industry has to offer.
3. Chris Renzema – Let the Ground Rest (4.5 stars)
The title track has been a family theme of hope in the waiting times all year. Terrific singer-songwriter vibes with the type of lyrics that being you back for the layers.
2. Colony House – Leave What’s Lost Behind (5 stars)
At first I was disappointed…then after more listens I had to eat crow. This is truly a great one with a story interwoven.
My full review here: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/LeaveWhatsLostBehind.asp
1. Jon Guerra – Keeper of Days (5 stars)
My full thoughts say it best: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/KeeperofDays.asp
And a wonderful interview on The Gospel Coalition with him can be read here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jon-guerra-monday-morning-prayer-music/%3famp
In case you missed it here’s the link for my Top 50 (really it’s 100) songs of 2020. Enjoy!
How about you?! What’s helped you get through a tough year and lifted your spirits?!
Happy Listening friends! – Josh