Best Albums of 2020 (Slight Return)

When I posted my 29th Annual “Albums of the Year” report last November, here, I noted, as I usually do, that since I don’t wait until December 31 to complete my annual roster, I reserve the option to report on records that slipped in late onto my personal radar screen, as supplements to the main report. As the end of January 2021 looms, I have three additional 2020 albums to praise, which would have certainly ended up on my list had I heard them before I posted. Just for the accuracy of my personal historic record, here are three great 2020 albums that I would add, celebrate and commend to your attention, with a video sample from each embedded.

Paul McCartney, McCartney III: Paul McCartney’s first self-titled album followed the dissolution of the Beatles. McCartney II (a personal favorite) followed the demise of Wings. While I’m hoping that McCartney III doesn’t indicate the end-point of his long-time support band (he’s played with them longer than Beatles and Wings combined at this point), I do appreciate that he returned to the “Just Paul” idiom of experimental personal stuff during our Anno Virum. This new disc is a stellar one, with lots of catchy songs, engaging lyrics, and instrumental virtuosity, including what I’d judge to be some of Sir Paul’s finest guitar (six-string version) work ever. He’s still a titanic, eclectic, and sexy (per my wife) talent as he approaches 80 years old. Life goes on, and makes sense, as long as he’s doing what he does. We should all hope to be so lucky.

Aloe Blacc, All Love Everything: Aloe Blacc’s prior albums, Good Things (2010) and Lift Your Spirit (2014) both featured on my Best Albums reports for their respective release years. The latter of those two discs was a big chart hit, topping out at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 weekly albums list. I’d have expected this new album to have been a media sensation, accordingly, but it quietly leaked out with little press fuss. Pity, as it’s a warm, soulful, lovely gem, a fine addition to his heart-felt, heart-warming canon. In dark times, music like this goes down smooth, and is good for the soul.

The Killers, Imploding the Mirage: I’ve been aware of The Killers since early in their career, but couldn’t really claim to be a fan. I nabbed front-man Brandon Flowers’ 2015 solo album The Desired Effect soon after its release, after my wife expressed interest in it after hearing a feature about him on NPR, and it was a very good introductory path to the rest of his catalog. His band’s newest album sounds like his solo work, and like the Killers’ albums that came before it, which is just fine. It’s anthemic and catchy and spiritual and engaging, and sometimes that’s just what I want out of the music in my life.

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