Following our look yesterday at the singles we deemed to be some of the finest releases from artists previously unknown to us, the spotlight turns to those we consider good friends of GDW – artists that we have known and followed for many years also put out their fair share of stunning new tracks in 2020.
This list is by no means my “Top 20 Singles List” – that would take too much time and energy to compile – no, these are tunes I felt really stood out when I heard them for the first time, and many more times afterwards thanks to SXM radio. Just as before, these are not ranked in any particular order, but listed alphabetically by artist/band first name.
Campbell Woods: “Picture of You”
The first track released from Campbell’s second studio album, this is pure poetry, and represents everything that we have come to expect from this incredibly gifted rising ON singer-songwriter.
Carmanah: “Mountain Woman”
I could have included any single from this BC group, whose album “Iris” is a lock for my year end honors – but this track quickens the pulse thanks to Laura Mina Mitic’s powerful and haunting bridge.
Charlotte Cornfield: “In My Corner”
An early 2020 release, Charlotte’s deliberate slow-paced narrative draws you in immediately, with vocals and instrumentation that propel her into Joni Mitchell and Rose Cousins territory.
Elliott BROOD: “Bird Dog”
The second single released from their brand new “Keeper album,” it is impossible to not love this capering tale of a hot pursuit, complete with killer banjo riffs and twang-heavy guitar.
Emm Gryner: “Butterflies”
A truly versatile artist, with strong pop, rock, and folk music roots, Emm recorded her first jazz album in 2020 as a gift to her father, with this original composition firmly staking her claim on the genre.
Frazey Ford: “Azad”
If there was a statement song this year, it came courtesy of BC’s Frazey Ford, whose funk and organ driven single blossoms into an uplifting masterpiece that you simply cannot resist dancing along to.
Harrow Fair: “Sins We Made”
This lead track from the ON duo’s second album is a barnburner, firmly cementing Harrow Fair as major players in the roots-Americana scene, and continues perfectly from their timeless, stunning debut.
Jim Cuddy: “Good News (Acoustic)”
It is impossible to ignore any new music from this co-founder of Blue Rodeo, but Jim timed this release to perfection, giving us all some glimmers of hope as we continue to deal with the pandemic.
Julian Taylor: “The Ridge”
Quite possibly the ‘biggest surprise’ of the year, Toronto’s Julian Taylor trades his soul-funk driven rock for soft folk-Americana, and boy – he and his stunning supporting cast absolutely NAIL IT.
Kennedy Road: “The Heart Will Buzz”
This unique pairing of guitarist Brian MacMillan and folk artist Sheila Carabine proves to be an experiment in perfection, both artists blending their sounds beautifully to create stunning music.
Martha Wainwright ft. Rufus Wainwright: “Wolves”
Has it really been four years since we last had new music from Martha Wainwright? Based on this single, it has been well worth the wait – especially as her brother joins her to add harmonies.
Melanie Brulee: “The Mess”
Not only are we eternally grateful to Melanie for launching her single here at GDW, we also love that her on-going commitment to issues surrounding mental health awareness remain at her core.
Patrick Watson: “The River”
If there was a single released this year that had me scrambling to look at the display when first hearing the track, this would be the one. I consider this possibly Patrick’s finest work to date.
Rose Cousins: “The Benefits of Being Alone”
“Natural Conclusion” is one of the finest Canadian albums of all time, and I really did not think that Rose could top that – how wrong I was. This is an artist that never stops going from strength to strength.
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar: “I’ve Got A Feeling”
One of the finest soul-blues vocalists on the circuit today, bar none, this powerhouse track has all the right ingredients: gospel infused harmonies, horns, vintage organs, and Martin’s phenomenal vocals.
Sameer Cash: “Driveway Moment”
This Toronto rock troubadour returned to the airwaves with a new musical name and identity, trading the guitar riffs for piano key balladry, and hit a home-run with this first taste of new music.
Tami Neilson: “You Were Mine”
Look up the word consistent in the dictionary and you’ll find Tami Neilson, whose first single of 2020 saw her elevating her potent vocal range to places even the NASA Mars Rover cannot reach.
Terra Spencer ft. The Bombadils: “Lunenburg Moon”
The first hint of new music following her stunning debut album last year, both Terra and The Bombadils join forces to deliver this delightfully sweet and romantic modern-day waltz. Beautiful.
The Redhill Valleys: “If I Didn’t Know You”
Lo and behold, as soon as I had this list finalized, our fave alt-country rockers dropped this absolutely amazing new tune – and left me scrambling to find a casualty of war to bump from the list.
William Prince: “Always Have What We Had”
With two albums released in 2020, William has been very busy. This track from his “Reliever” album perfectly captures both his descriptive songwriting and his soothing vocal delivery.