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Holler's Albums Of The Year 2020

December 18, 2020 9:45 am GMT
Last Edited February 11, 2024 3:12 pm GMT

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In a year of deep tragedy and anxiety, the 20 records here have offered deep empathy, comfort and empowerment to carry us through.

Tyler Childers and Mickey Guyton released socio-political statements of intent, Katie Pruitt and Waxahatchee delved deep inside themselves to find great empathy and fulfilment, while Aubrie Sellers and Honey Harper pushed the boundaries of what country represents.

While 2020 devastated us, it offered us a wealth of amazing music.

These is Holler's Records of the Year for 2020.

20
Merge - 2020

Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud

With Saint Cloud, Katie Crutchfield returned to her roots in hope of recovery. In doing so, her fifth solo record is her most consequential, mature and best yet. Bright and raw like the first day of fall, rather than stewing in the anger of her dependencies and insecurities, Crutchfield simply acknowledges their very being and her desire to unfold them; the first step towards healing in the slow passing of time. Through these bare and illuminating textures, Crutchfield's vulnerability unknots itself - ensuring us we're not the only ones who are simply trying to maintain our wind on the weather vane of life.

Read the full review here.

19
High Top Mountain / Thirty Tigers - 2020

Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin' Grass Vol.1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions)

When The Outlaw returned last month with a surprise collection of Bluegrass renditions of his own songs, nothing else this year hit so instantly or simply felt so right. Through all the exploration and experimentation, Sturgill's longing to embrace his first love at this stage of his career allows us the most revealing insight into his nature and narrative ability, through the most candid and poetic of forms. In their true shape, Simpson's songs weave masterful impressions of love, faith, grief and reckoning that yearn and ache in solidarity, capturing a fascinating artist who, like everyone, simply desires to understand himself.

Read the full review here.

18
Monument / Sony - 2020

Caitlyn Smith - Supernova

“A lot of these songs are little vignettes, details of life", explains Nashville-based Caitlyn Smith. "We’re constantly bombarded by so much noise, and I wanted to create a record that held all those tiny moments - the ups and downs - that make life so beautiful” - and that's exactly what Supernova achieves. Throughout expansive soundscapes, soaring choruses and even moments of delicate intimacy, Smith showcases - with an impressively powerful vocal range - her skill for writing evocative, cinematic country-pop songs that delve into all the many depths of human emotion.

Read the full review here.

17
New West Records - 2020

The Secret Sisters - Saturn Return

Saturn Return is effortlessness in its purest form. Alabama duo Laura and Lydia Rogers channel soul straight from the heart on their fourth album - one full of celestial, hypnotic goodness. Folky harmonies captivate in their soaring grace, achieving a lullaby-like quality throughout the record, which was produced by their friend and mentor Brandi Carlile. What feels so special about Saturn Return is how it captures such a deeply spiritual sense of womanhood. Whilst recording, the sisters lost both their grandmothers, yet also both became mothers themselves. Such grounding experiences are presented with a warm and trusting delicacy throughout, as if listeners are being welcomed into the sisterhood themselves.

Read the full review here.

16
Son of Davy / Thirty Tigers - 2020

Charley Crockett - Welcome To Hard Times

Charley Crockett's wistful Welcome to Hard Times is an unearthed treasure chest of rugged soul. Weaving country, piano-driven honky-tonk, soul and blues, the Texan crooner paints a vivid world of outlaws and gamblers, prisoners and gangs - all connected through the common experience of heartbreak. Recorded and produced by Mark Neill (The Black Keys, JD McPherson), the record is raw, gothic and gritty, reminiscent of the dusty desert roads of a town stuck in time. Though it's rich in emotion, it is in no way overstated – Crockett's songwriting is honest yet assured; hardened by experience and grounded in maturity.

Read the full review here.

15
Big Machine - 2020

The Cadillac Three - COUNTRY FUZZ

The Cadillac Three kept themselves busier than most in 2020 - releasing two of their strongest records yet in a time when simply existing seems like an achievement. For the trio, it was an opportunity to stretch their creative muscle - embracing their penchant for a groove over any particular limitation in genre and in doing so creating their most varied output to date. COUNTRY FUZZ embraced all of their southern frivolity, loosening the brakes on the restrictions of a red-neck country rock staple while embracing a slicker, sweatier sound thats indulgent, playful and more accessible than they'd have you believe. Someone crack a cold one.

Read the full review here.