Albums of the Year 2018

In 2018 I have reviewed nearly seventy albums and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me for different reasons, so picking a favourites list feels strange and almost cruel to those I have left out. And yet such a list is also a satisfying way to reflect on the year in music, as a writer and a fan.

In the end I have chosen thirty favourite albums of the year for this list. I have based my choices on a combination of gut instinct and how often I listened to an album. Be aware that my mood changes so much that anything beyond the top four albums might have changed order if I wrote this tomorrow.

This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Please let me know your favourites in the comments.

30. Kari Arnett – When the Dust Settles

29. Cat Power – Wanderer

28. Haley Heynderickx – I Need to Start A Garden

27. Pearl Charles – Sleepless Dreamer

26. Shemekia Copeland – America’s Child

25. Lindi Ortega – Liberty

24. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Years

23. Kendl Winter – Stumbler’s Business

22. Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny

21. Courtney Patton – What It’s Like To Fly Alone

20. Faustina Masigat – Faustina Masigat

19. Karine Polwart – Laws of Motion

18. Natalia Lafourcade – Musas Vol 2

17. Lori McKenna – The Tree

16. Marissa Nadler – For My Crimes

15. Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John

14. I’m With Her – See You Around

13. Lucy Dacus – Historian

12. Ashley Monroe – Sparrow

11. Erin Rae – Putting on Airs

10. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

9. The War & Treaty – Healing Tide

8. Amanda Shires – To The Sunset

7. Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You

6. Mitski – Be The Cowboy

5. First Aid Kit – Ruins

4. Belly – Dove

3. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

2. Pistol Annies – Interstate Gospel

1. Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

Read my personal essay on the album of the year here.

Thanks to all my readers for their support this year. You can listen to highlights from each of these albums in my playlist below.

10 thoughts on “Albums of the Year 2018

Add yours

  1. I know you’ve seen my list on twitter but here it is with one-sentence reviews.

    10. Illuminati Hotties – Kiss Your Frenemies. Shock as indie kid chooses fun over shoe and naval gazing!
    9. Haley Heynderickx – I Need to Start a Garden. Poetry, mystery, confidence, vulnerability: I hadn’t heard of Haley a year ago and now I’m almost obsessed with her.
    8. Neko Case – Hell On. A master craftswoman at work, and “Last Lion of Albion” sounds like a long lost Kirsty MacColl song, lyrically and vocally.
    7. serpentwithfeet – Soil. A lover’s obsessions conveyed through hypnotic and mesmeric repetition, chanting and barely-there beats.
    6. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers – Years. My 18 year old self would be shocked and possibly disgusted at the idea of listening to country; my 18 year old self can go fuck himself.
    5. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer. Crazy, sexy, cool plus funky, political and provocative despite Pharrell’s best efforts at fucking it up.
    4. Lucy Dacus – Historian. Powerful: lyrically, vocally, musically, and includes the song of the year “Night Shift”.
    3. First Aid Kit – Ruins. Gorgeous melodies, harmonies and arrangements as the sisters successfully stretch the definition of Americana.
    2. The Go! Team – semicircle. Fatboy Slim meets Phil Spector meets late 80s rap meets a U.S college marching band, yet it’s not messy and loose; it’s focused and tight.
    1. Anna Calvi – Hunter. I love every song on this album. I love her voice, lyrics, musicianship, tunes and hooks. The album was criticised in some quarters for being too straightforward and uncomplicated. You know, “uncomplicated”…like the Beatles first five albums and the Rolling Stones entire back catalogue. Also good enough to merit more than one sentence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I could go back and rewrite my review for this album. It was terrible (the review, not the album). It took a hold of me one night several months after and didn’t let go. Powerful stuff. I’m an idiot. Happy holidays and great choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As an ignoramus I would just like to say thanks – it is a wonderful list for me to work through as the vast majority are unknown to me, though I am in total agreement about Courtney Marie and Pistol Annies.
    I do have one question though (which is probably answered somewhere that I have just missed) – do you just consider artists who are singer-songwriters as against singers? I ask because my personal Top 3 was crashed in December by Kathy Mattea’s wonderful Pretty Bird – an album not only terrific in itself but an amazing overcoming of the fear which the loss of her previous voice (if that is the right way to put it?) must have induced.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 yes, that is what I intended to mean. Although I have not checked all 50 the ones I am aware of are all singer-songwriters (ie at least some of the songs on their albums are self-penned). My question was whether that was a matter of policy or there were just no ‘singer-interpreters’ (my invented term for someone who’s album consists entirely of other people’s songs) who made an album you liked enough to include? (apologies for not explaining clearly!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well the Juliana Hatfield, Natalia Lafourcade and Shemekia Copeland albums are all covers or written for them. You are right though generally I do favour those with original voices and songs. My music education started in the 90s grunge/britpop scenes where authenticity was everything and I guess that’s hard to shake off. I also have some suspicions about albums where people co-write with hired guns but I have come to appreciate them more. I’m not against covering anything – apart from male singers that is 😂

        Liked by 1 person

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