Morning Edition Looks Back On Some Of The Best Albums Of 2017
NPR's Noel King and David Greene look back on a year of great music releases with writers who cover the various genres.
Lee Ann Womack, The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone
" Lee Ann Womack is sort of a modern traditionalist; she was a mainstream hitmaker in the late 90's, and she's in a different phase of her career now. With this particular album, she kind of is trying to get to what she feels like is the emotional core of country music: it's melancholy." - Jewly Hight
"This album is about control, something that women are constantly struggling to obtain, whether that's in relationships or whether that's professionally, socially. SZA really just came forward and said, 'I took control of my own narrative, and I want you as women to understand that you can take control of your own narrative.' And it just came out at a time where I was getting over a breakup or whatever you want to call it — it was complicated! You know, I was clinging to this album because it was so restorative for me." - Kiana Fitzgerald (Complex)
Ron Miles, I Am a Man
" Ron Miles is just a beautiful musician; he's someone with this tone that's like liquid gold. On this album, he applies that gorgeous sensibility to a sort of reflection on civil rights, identity, on justice. There were so many ambitious and envelope-pushing albums made by jazz musicians in 2017. This is a subtler accomplishment but what it does is it really establishes this kind of soulful beauty. And I found myself in a year of turbulence and conflict reaching for it again and again. You know, it was replenishing. It was salutary. It was something that made me feel good. You know, it's just a beautiful statement." - Nate Chinen (WBGO)
Danish String Quartet, Last Leaf
"When these guys aren't playing Beethoven and Brahms, they kind of hole up in this vintage farmhouse in the west side of Denmark, and they pore over all of these old folk tunes from the Nordic countries. You can virtually see shuffling feet on a saw-dusted dance floor and hear these wheezing old squeeze-boxes in the music. Like an evocative novel or some mesmerizing movie, I love art that completely pulls you in to its own special world where you end up getting to have personal relationships with the characters. And in this case, it's the songs that you get to know and love." - Tom Huizenga
"For the past several years, Kesha has been involved in a legal battle with ex-producer, Dr. Luke. She accused him of sexual abuse and other forms of abuse, including the harassment that led to her suffering from an eating disorder, for which she was treated. And during the time of that treatment, she began writing the songs for Rainbow. I have a 14-year-old daughter, and we listened a lot to this record together. Kesha's message of empowerment, which is not a simple message, which makes room for vulnerability, for being a weirdo — that's a message that resonates so much with my daughter... and so much with me! It's a record I wish I'd had when I was 14." - Ann Powers
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