A Year In Review (2016)

My Very Best Of!

ALBUMS

Miranda just keeps getting better.  I had high hopes for this album and man did she deliver!  Anytime an artist goes through a divorce, as much as I feel sorry for them I know they are about to dig deep and deliver something special.  This double disc album has pretty much been on repeat for me wherever I go ever since the day it came out.  Disc 1 is titled The Nerve and Disc 2 is titled The Heart, how perfect is that?

In the very first song Miranda sings, "I ain't unpacked my suitcase since the day that I turned 21, It's been a long 10 years since then it's getting kind of cumbersome."  I love that line!!!!!  That line just about sums up my 2016, just substitute suitcase for sadness in my hips and there you have it.  My other favorite from Disc 1, "I didn't plan on falling fast, I didn't know I could be kissed like that," from the duet "Pushin' Time"... such a beautiful song about finding love unexpectedly and at a later age.  

Disc 2 starts with a beautiful song called Tin Man, it's pure poetry:

Hey there, Mr. Tin Man
You don't know how lucky you are
You shouldn't spend your whole life wishin'
For something bound to fall apart

Every time you're feeling empty
Better thank your lucky stars
If you ever felt one breakin'
You'd never want a heart

Hey there, Mr. Tin Man
You don't know how lucky you are
I've been on the road that you're on
It didn't get me very far

You ain't missin' nothin'
'Cause love is so damn hard
Take it from me darlin', you don't want a heart

Hey there, Mr. Tin Man
Glad we talked this out
You can take mine if you want it
It's in pieces now

By the way there, Mr. Tin Man
If you don't mind the scars
You give me your armor
And you can have my heart

The album closes with a song called I've Got Wheels, and it feels like an anthem of sorts... for those who have to try harder just to keep rolling on, for those who feel weary and beat down by love but still want to believe and be a part of it.  And that's where I'm at this year and maybe that's why this is my absolute favorite album of this year. 

Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra- that equation leads to only one thing: beauty.  I was able to see Gregory Alan Isakov open for Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks in 2015 and he is just calm and soothing.  But if you get past the fact that this music can just play softly in the background at work without interrupting your thoughts, if you dig deeper and really listen to the lyrics they are haunting.  According to his website Gregory Alan was born in South Africa but calls Colorado home (I've heard he resides in Boulder), and man what I wouldn't give to know this man.  He seems like the dream.  Some of my favorites on this album are: Liars, Dandelion Wine, Amsterdam, and Saint Valentine... but truly the whole album is a masterpiece from a local gem, check it out if you haven't yet.

Why haven't I been listening to these people forever I ask you?  This description was on their website and it is so accurate:

Elephant Revival serenaded the crowd with arabesque melodies, harmonies and rhythms that braided and coiled into a sublime aural tapestry. Their instrumental dynamics, verse, and even the harrowing story that inspired their appellation, invoked the majesty, mystery and sorrow of Mother Earth.

Again, Elephant Revival is a local treasure hailing from Nederland (near Boulder).  I can't believe I haven't been listening to them since they formed.  Just like Gregory Alan, this music can easily just play in the background of any scene of your life, but if you find yourself driving back country roads on a cloudy Autumn day right before the sun sets, suddenly you will find that you are listening to pure art.  I really hope I get to see this band at Red Rocks this summer, it's on my to do list!

BONUS

This album was a nice find for me this year.  The band hails from London Town and I love them. The song England Skies is definitely a highlight, but my favorite is The Lovers Side and definitely will be a song that I will remember as a soundtrack to my life in 2016. 

BOOKS

I'm sensing a theme with my picks this year: Local.  Maybe that's symbolic of where I'm at... after a very brutal national election season, I'm ready to get back to the basics, scale way back and appreciate what's all around me.  And clearly, what's around me is talent!  Eleanor Brown is quickly becoming one of my faves, and she calls Colorado home.  I have seen her numerous times at The Tattered Cover, and she spends so much time helping others with the craft of writing.  I love it!  Anyway, although the destination in this book was not local it highlights one of my favorite cities: Paris (obviously).  This book also explored women and the expectations placed on them.  I loved it, I loved the way it made me feel, I love that it made me long for places I haven't been in a long time, I loved that it felt like I was walking cobblestone streets and becoming along with the characters.  So cozy, so delightful.  Check her out, her first book The Weird Sisters was amazing too.

Yay Dave!  This is more like it!  This book fell perfectly in line with a theme I found myself coming across over and over this year: that same vibe of scaling back, of getting off the grid, of exploring where we are.  In this book a mom on a whim takes her two kids to Alaska where they rent an RV and disappear from their lives for a while.  Of course through disappearing there is introspection and again, a becoming, a transition or acceptance of who we are and who we want to be.  It's so good.  

Although, story-wise this book didn't ring true as my favorite... I just love what it made me think.  It made me realize there is a lot in this world that I know only a little about, and there is a deep desire to learn more.   Especially now, when xenophobia seems to be running rampant.  I want to know so much about all the people of this world, and books like this help create the spark, they are the doorway to inquisition.

That's my year, these are my favorites of 2016.  What about you? What did you hear that moved you? What did you read that changed you?