3.) Solange – “A Seat At The Table”
It was a year of self-awareness and self-identity for many female artists and vocalists alike in 2016. But it’s Solange’s “A Seat At The Table” that really takes the cake. Her message is simple: 1.) I’m a black woman in America and I want to show you what I’m going through back then and now with my soul, funk and melodic R&B beats. Similar concepts like Mitski, Angel Olsen and even Beyonce about female empowerment; but it’s with a great message of racial identity mixed in with cultivating feeling that makes Solange hard to beat.
Top Tracks – Cranes In The Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair, Mad
6.) Michael Kiwanuka – “Love & Hate”
It would be 2016’s “What’s Going On”, but it’s more personal within Michael’s musical content. Collecting the sounds of Curtis Mayfield, the soul of Marvin Gaye and then stance of Bill Withers; “Love & Hate” evolved Kiwanuka’s music career by balancing and respecting the past to give the present and future something to stand on. And it’s Michael’s storytelling that will give listeners a heads up of what’s to come if action is not taken place.
Top Tracks – Black Man In A White World, Love & Hate, Cold Little Heart
By Gary Barton
Wash me with your inner thoughts
Tell me who I am
Purify my dirty soul and
Drown it to the Damned
Let me dip in your regions
Reaching what’s inside
Soaked in your pools of wonder
Bathed in your mind
Natalie Prass – “Natalie Prass”
How can one create a debut album with such sophisticated concepts, an outstanding horn and string section and a voice so intimate and delicate your heart will melt into ecstasy? Simple. It’s all in Prass’s confidence in songwriting and her musical conscious like Dusty Springfield and Marvin Gaye. The 29-year-old Virginian native breaks out 9 heartfelt songs that will leave you wanting more with her upbeat tempos along with her downbeat meanings on heartbreak and love. From her Philly-esque soulfulness in “Your Fool” to a charming Disney princess chimes in “It Is You”, Natalie Prass’s debut is not at all retro, it’s timeless.
Top Tracks: Bird of Prey, It Is You, Your Fool, My Baby Don’t Understand Me
Alabama Shakes – “Sound and Color”
The sound is weird (in a beautiful and spacious way) and the color is beyond kaleidoscopic. Channeling the sounds from 60’s rock all the way to a funk n’ soul of the 70’s, Shakes developed a smoother and boarder palette that acknowledges their roots. And with the unforgettable voice of singer-songwriter Brittany Howard, “Sound and Color” is by far Alabama Shakes’ most creative album to date.
Top Track: Don’t Wanna Fight, Gimme All Your Love, Sound and Color, Over My Head