It would be easy to mine my top album list for the best songs of the year. But why take the easy road? Here then are the top songs that aren’t represented on the top album list.
The World Should Revolve Around Me, Little Jackie (from the S-Curve release The Stoop)
This song is an instant R&B classic, blessed with unending charm and attitude. “I bide my time with philosophical questions, sings vocalist Imani Coppola mid-song, “Not for nothing, but what came first, the chicken nugget or the egg mcmuffin?” Little Jackie handily gets my vote for song of the year.
Feels Like Home, Randy Newman (from the Nonesuch release Harps and Angels)
The most magnificent love song of the year. This is a welcome reminder that sometimes the simplest of songs are the greatest.
Heaven Help the Lonely, Willie Nile (from the 00:02:59 release Live from the Streets of New York)
Few artists today can come close to matching the energy that Willie Nile delivers in every live performance. Here is exhibit A from his impressive 2008 live release. “I saw figures in the doorway, heard the whispers of desire, I walk by the cathedral, heard the singing of the choir.”
Fear, Paddy Casey (from the Victor release Addicted to Company)
Casey takes on the fears of parenthood, “I’m scared for my child, lord, for her mother, for what you people wanna do to one another, for the water, for the trees — Man, I’m scared of pollution, of disease… Well I pray my child will live happy and long, Lord, And I hope she never will sing this song.” Amen.
I Just Wanna Know Why, Jabe (from the self-released Rocket Surgery)
Like the burst of a firecracker, Jabe lets loose with a sonic ode to his old hometown. “But the past ain’t nothing but a dream we see through rose-petaled eyes,” he concludes, “it just hurts to go back that’s all.”
Hank, Jay Bennett (from the self-released Whatever Happened I Apologize)
What begins as a reflection on how Hank Williams would write a song about a romantic break-up becomes a singer’s confession of his own inability to communicate.
Audio Download: Jay Bennett, “Hank”
[Source: Jay Bennett]
Mercy, Duffy (from the Mercury release Rockferry)
There’s a reason that the song is among the most played songs of the near: it is a timeless R&B song and a welcome introduction to an impressive new talent.
Nobody’s Man, Joe Pug (from the self-released Nation of Heat ep)
Chicago acoustic troubadour firmly establishes himself as an artist to watch. This track, among several on his debut ep, draws positive comparisons to Bob Dylan and John Prine. (Note: Visit Pug’s web site to find out how to get a complimentary copy of this ep.)
See These Bones, Nada Surf (from the Barsuk Records release Lucky)
Few rival Matthew Caws when it comes to writing saccharine pop songs. His minor chord melodies are the initial draw but the lyrics that offer a dark reminder to live life to the fullest are what really hit hard.
Standing Bird, Love Psychedelico (from the Hacktone Records release This is Love Psychedelico)
It would be easy to highlight the simple guitar hook as the key to this song’s success. Repeated listens, however, reveal the engaging blend of voice and instruments that make this song truly infectious.
Broken, Tift Merritt (from the Fantasy Records release Another Country)
I’ll admit that Tift Merritt could probably sing the phone book and she’d have my attention. Her voice has angelic qualities that are always engaging. It is the perfect match for a song that seeks out the silver lining of heartache.
You Won’t Be Able to Be Sad, The Break and Repair Method (from the Bluhammock release Milk the Bee)
Air I’m Breathing, Todd Herfindal (from the Single Recordings release Collective)
Two infinitely catchy pop songs from guys moonlighting from their regular bands: Todd from the Meadows and Paul Doucette (Break and Repair Method) from Matchbox 20.
Just Us Kids, James McMurtry (from the Lightning Rod Records release Just Us Kids)
McMurtry continues to cement his standing as the premier storyteller in Americana. His characters burn with personality and always lead the listener to the moral of McMurtry’s stories.
Three Weeks to Go, Dirty Truckers (from the self-released Loose in the Joints)
Call these guys a hometown favorite. The Truckers traffic in garage rock, unbridled yet never sloppy. Singer- songwriter Tom Baker knows how to let his guitar do the talking.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.