So, here are … my Top 20 Best Songs of 2019 – not an easy choice given that I listened to 100’s of songs last year, attended dozens of gigs and promoted several gigs of my own. My choices are quite an eclectic (and unexpected) mix!
So, make yourself a brew, open a can or fill a glass and sit back and enjoy some fabulous (mostly British) talent for the next hour or so!
20. Manifesto Pontius Pilate and the Nail Drivers
Who are these you might be asking? Pontius Pilate and the Nail Drivers are a Ska / TwoTone band based in Ireland who I’ve enjoyed the last couple of times I’ve been to the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. I was particularly drawn to see them simply because of their name, not knowing anything about them, and was pleasantly surprised. I can’t believe they get away with it in Catholic Ireland – but they do! There are stonking live, but this original single of 2019 will have to do!
19. Comethru Jeremy Zucker
I saw Jeremy at one of the Introducing Stages at the Leeds Festival. I really quite enjoyed his set and, whilst not really my scene, this song caught my attention and is one of the songs of my summer.
18. Anthem Keith James
Keith is an accomplished interpreter of the songs of Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, and Cat Stevens as well as an accomplished singer/songwriter himself. Keith has played over 1500 gigs in his career but the House Gig at the Rectory in November was the first House Gig he has ever played. Afterwards he said: “This was fantastic – why did it take me so long?” I’ve chosen this song from a recently released ‘Best Of’ Album because it’s a Leonard Cohen classic and includes the memorable line “There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
17. Shallow Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
Yes – Lady Gaga! Bradley Cooper’s voice isn’t bad either. An outstanding song taken from the latest film version of A Star Is Born which has a fabulous soundtrack with songs written by the likes of Lukas Nelson, Mark Ronson and Lady Gaga. This was in last years chart but it’s played been played quite a lot this year too and, I have to be honest and admit that I also have a soft spot for this song after Annabel and I sang this (accompanied by Dismal Dan) at her 18th Birthday party. You know what they say about dads and daughters!
16. Dancing In The Dark Michelle Lewis
Whilst this was recorded by Michelle in 2018, I do like her interpretation of this Springsteen classic. I notice Deacon Blue played a similar version in the Radio 2 Piano Room recently, as did Gabrielle Aplin. However, this was the first slow version I heard and I reckon everyone has copied Michelle. Many of you will remember that Michelle played a well received set at my Gig in the Garden in 2019.
15. Never Been In Love Before Hattie Briggs
Hattie Briggs played at the Rectory in May 2019 and her’s is a real Cinderella story. Hattie sits very comfortably in the Americana genre we’ve come to know and love so much here in Billericay. Hattie has such a pure voice and this is a standout song from an outstanding set.
14. Hold You Tonight Rob Halligan
I first heard Hold You Tonight when Rob played it live at a Rectory House Gig a few years ago and I loved it instantly. Taken from the album ‘We All Write The Songs’ this is one of my all time faves and is listened to on a regular basis.
13. Made Up My Mind Connor Selby
This is taken from Connor’s 2018 album of the same name. I’d not heard of Essex boy Connor before the autumn and I’m wonderig why. Connor is supporting The Who on their 2020 stadium tour. This video was taken at their one off gig in the summer.
12. All I Want Rufus Wainwright
This is one of the outstanding covers from the Joni Mitchell 75th birthday celebration concert from early 2019 – which was recorded as a film and album. Not only does Rufus sing with such ease (the standout vocal of the night for me) the arrangement of the backing band is simply breathtaking at times.
11. Girl Going Nowhere Ashley McBryde
An artist I’ve been championing for a couple of years now. Ashley received the best newcomer award at the CMA’s and earned two coveted GRAMMY® nominations for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance for her breakout single Girl Goin’ Nowhere.
10. Hurricane Morganway
One of my finds of 2019 and I can’t recommend them enough. One of two songs in the top 10 of my songs of 2019. Morganway are from Norwich and this version is taken from the live album recorded at Epic Studios in Norwich. I actually think their live album is better than the studio version! You decide.
9. Glory Georgia and the Vintage Youth
Georgia Crandon is from Essex with a big voice and big blonde hair to match! Her retro jazz/swing style of music is both vintage and fresh. Georgia is another of a new breed of vibrant singer/songwriters that I’ve enjoyed in 2019. Taking influence from the likes of Paloma Faith, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday & Louis Prima, Georgia’s contagious melodies and reflective lyrics won’t fail to have your feet tapping along. Georgia is accompanied by muso friends called ‘The Vintage Youth’ and she will be playing at my Gig In the Garden 2020.
8. To The Creator Joe Slater
Joe Slater might be a new artist to many of you, but, I have to say, he is one of the most talented, accomplished, passionate and dynamic young musicians I’ve seen in a long while and is someone to look out for – he certainly has a big future ahead of him. Joe’s gigs at Camden Chapel and the Green Note were real highlights for me in 2019. This was released as a single in 2019. Joe will be playing his ‘Rock and Soul’ at Billericay Rectory in May 2020.
7.Wild As The Water Danni Nicholls
AMAUK Nominated Danni Nicholl’s relesed her third album The Melted Morning was released to critical acclaim early 2019 and is one of my top albums of 2019. Hear Your Voice has been nominated for an AMAUK song of the year award – watch this space – but this is my favourite from the album. You’ll recognise the musicians in the background! Danni will be headlining my Gig in the Garden 2020.
6. Mercy Now Kathy Mattea
I’ve been listening to Kathy Mattea’s last album Pretty Bird and just had to share this fabulous song Mercy Now written by Mary Gauthier. Great video but even better tune and lyrics.
5. Time Will Be The Healer Glen Hansard
Better known for writing the story and songs to the Oscar winning film and West End smash Once Glen has released several albums as a solo artist and as a member of The Frames and The Swell Season and is well thought of within the industry. This stand out track is taken from his album Between Two Shores.
4. A Farewell To Kings Rush
A Farewell To Kings was one of my listen to albums of the summer and one of my all time Rush classics. Its finds itself at number 4 as a result of the recent death of drummer extraordinaire, Neil Peart. The lyrics are also quite relevant given the political landscape of the UK in the past several months.
3. Stay Awake To Dream Chorlton Country Club / Lauren Housley
Lauren played three times in Billericay in 2019. Firstly as a trio under the guise of the Chorlton Country Club. Then with a band at my ‘Gig In The Garden’ and then as a duo with Tom – showcasing several new songs. Hence the reason Lauren/CCC finds herself at number 3. However, with no new releases in 2019, and so much to choose from, I opted for this fabulous song recorded outdoors, literally, ‘Under The Apple Tree!’
2. Faraway Look Yola
Bristol based Yolanda Claire Quartey’s rise in recent years has been nothing short of meteoritic. From winning AMAUK awards to being nominated for four GRAMMY® for best new artist and three other awards: best Americana album for her debut, Walk Through Fire, best American roots performance and best American roots song. This version was sang at the 2019 GRAMMY® Awards at the Staples Centre on 26 January 2020. A lush arrangement too. I might also mention that this was my favourite album track long before it was chosen for a GRAMMY®.
1. Frozen In Our Time Morganway
And so, after a lot of soul searching, I’ve chosen this as my top song of 2019 – no mean feat given the talent on show here. Frozen In Our Time is an instant classic, has an anthemic mystery attached to it and is such a mature song for a young band. S.J. Mortimer’s vocal are sensational too! This version is taken from a gig they played at the Little Rabbit Barn in September 2019.
Bonus Track! Come In From The Cold Joni Mitchell
Well every album has a bonus track nowadays and what better than Joni Mitchell! Taken from the 1991 album Night Ride Home. No explanation needed …
So, there you have them – my Top 20 Best Songs of 2019. And for those of you who like to know these things there are: 7 male artists, 7 female artists and 6 groups. You can’t ask for better than that!
Were any of your choices included? Have I made any significant omissions?
Have a great 2020 checking out some of the above artists, seeking out new ones and supporting live music in Billericay – or wherever you live.