Ready for this year’s roundup of favorite albums? This year, we’re doing this in five parts – four organized regionally and then one overall recap with M’s and my lists. We’ll start out on the East Coast and move westward throughout the week.
I think it’s been even tougher to put these lists together this year, because we’ve listened to a great deal more music and are even more aware that we’ve undoubtedly missed a slew of terrific albums. So, if you have suggestions of albums we haven’t listed and you think we should, tweet us @greatdkwonder and tell us the album, artist, and province, and we’ll check them out!
(There’s a Spotify playlist at the end of the article if you want to sample each album, or you can listen to full albums at the links provided. If you like any of the music, please 1) save the album to your Spotify account, and 2) consider buying the album and supporting the artist.)
Julie Aubé, Joie de vivre (New Brunswick)
If M was putting together this list, he might have been won over by this album solely because of the Volvo wagon on its cover. 🙂 But this album (one of two on my list by members of Les Hay Babies, who made my list last year) has much more than its cover to recommend it – it’s chock full of 1970s-era rock sounds and I fully anticipate this will become one of my regular commuting albums.
Listen to Joie de vivre on Spotify.
Matthew Byrne, Horizon Lines (Newfoundland)
We originally featured this album on the site several months ago and it’s been a joy to pull it out again in preparing this article. Byrne’s voice is a marvel and the songs on the album are perfect for it – utter perfection.
Listen to Horizon Lines on Spotify.
Coig, Rove (Nova Scotia)
We included this in a roundup of Maritime releases a few months ago, and like M, I’ve also found it revelatory. This is a breathtaking collection and Coig’s musical skills are tremendous. Highly enjoyable.
Ashley Condon, Can You Hear Me (Prince Edward Island)
The latest album from singer/songwriter (and now fledgling craft brewer, together with her husband) Ashley Condon is gorgeous. Songs such as the opening track “Diamond Sky” and “Down Home” are but two examples of the terrific material on this project.
Listen to Can You Hear Me on Spotify.
Maxim & Gervais Cormier, Cape Breton Guitar (Nova Scotia)
We interviewed Maxim about this project a few weeks ago and I’m still enjoying it – a great blend of traditional and modern tunes, played splendidly by this father-son duo.
Listen to Cape Breton Guitar on Spotify.
Rose Cousins, Natural Conclusion (Nova Scotia)
It’s been terrific to see the year-end press that this gorgeous album has been getting here below the border. Hopefully this presages a huge 2018 for Rose Cousins, because she totally deserves it. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful, haunting albums that came out in 2017 – its delicate beauty unfolds even more deeply on repeated listens.
Listen to Natural Conclusion on Spotify.
Alan Doyle, A Week at the Warehouse (Newfoundland)
Alan Doyle continues to rock and roll with his trademark twist of traditional and modern – this album is a foot-tapping delight and a testament to Doyle’s ability to keep things fresh and energetic.
Listen to A Week at the Warehouse on Spotify.
East Pointers, What We Leave Behind (Prince Edward Island)
We wrote about this album several weeks ago, and it has stayed on our radar since its release in September – a project that not only escapes the dreaded sophomore curse but is a big step forward for this terrific trio.
Listen to What We Leave Behind on Spotify.
Dennis Ellsworth and Kinley Dowling, Everyone Needs to Chill Out (Prince Edward Island)
This project, a pairing of Dennis Ellsworth with Hey Rosetta’s Kinley Dowling, is a brilliant success – their voices mesh beautifully and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable exploration of relationships (as mentioned in our review of the album earlier this year).
Listen to Everyone Needs to Chill Out on Spotify.
Ian Foster, Sleeper Years (Newfoundland)
Ian Foster’s insightful, sensitive songwriting never fails to disappoint and this is a marvelous album. Listen especially for the anthemic “Killing Frost” and “You Left a Song,” a gorgeous tribute to Ron Hynes.
Listen to Sleeper Years on Spotify.
Jenn Grant, Paradise (Nova Scotia)
This slightly dreamy, totally addictive album ranks with Jenn Grant’s best work. To me, it’s a bit closer in sound to her 2015 Acqua Alta recording in sound than her previous solo albums. With terrific songs like “Galaxies” and “Lion With Me,” this is a winner for sure.
Listen to Paradise on Spotify.
Jason Haywood, Folklore (New Brunswick)
If, like me, you aren’t yet familiar with Jason Haywood, this is an exciting introduction to a talented singer/songwriter. Folklore is an intriguing collection of songs that will hook your interest pretty quickly.
Listen to Folklore on Spotify.
Florian Hoefner, Coldwater Stories (Newfoundland)
This solo piano album by jazz artist Florian Hoefner was a total accident find – and oh, am I glad I found it. These ten pieces inspired by Hoefner’s new home (he moved to St. John’s from Germany three years ago) are enchanting and magical. Ideal for a quiet evening by the fire with a warm cup of your favorite beverage in your hands.
Listen to Coldwater Stories on Spotify.
Mo Kenney, The Details (Nova Scotia)
We’ve followed Mo Kenney since shortly after her first album was released. This latest project is stark and unsparing, but it’s also a huge leap forward artistically for her. She has a story to tell here, and she does so with wit, great musicianship, and transparency – terrific qualities all.
Listen to The Details on Spotify.
Émilie Landry, Être social (New Brunswick)
We reviewed this terrific debut EP earlier this year and it’s remained among my favorites ever since.
Listen to Être social on Spotify.
Catherine MacLellan, If It’s Alright With You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan (Prince Edward Island)
It’s rare when being a non-Canadian presents an advantage, but in this one case, a lack of familiarity with the songs of Gene MacLellan (one of Canada’s best songwriters) might be one. I’ve been able to hear these interpretations by his daughter, Catherine, with no preconceptions of how the songs originally sounded – and they are terrific.
Listen to If It’s Alright With You on Spotify.
Brent Mason, High Water Mark (New Brunswick)
No matter how many artists we hear, there are always more we should hear. Brent Mason is one such artist; while this is the first album of his I’ve heard, I’m definitely going to explore his discography. This is a fabulous set of songs from a clearly talented singer/songwriter.
Listen to High Water Mark on Spotify.
David Myles, Real Love (Nova Scotia)
With this album, the multifaceted David Myles steps firmly into 1960s bebop territory. This is an awesomely fun project, and if it doesn’t get your toes tapping within, oh, six bars of the first song or so, then you might need to check your pulse. (Note: available in Canada now, available in the U.S. in early 2018.)
Listen to “Real Love” (single) on Spotify.
Bill & Joel Plaskett, Solidarity (Nova Scotia)
We reviewed this album earlier in the year, and its place in my list of favorites has held firm ever since its release. It’s been a delight to have an excuse to pull it out again and listen to wonderful songs like “The Next Blue Sky,” “Blank Cheque,” and the anthemic title track.
Listen to Solidarity on Spotify.
Tomato Tomato, Pinecones and Cinnamon (New Brunswick)
Not only has this album (as stated elsewhere) escaped my normally Scrooge-like attitude toward holiday albums, but it’s also a terrific project irrespective of the time of year. “Christmas Grump” is a particular favorite for obvious reasons…
Listen to Pinecones and Cinnamon on Spotify.
Listen to a song from each album above in our Spotify playlist: