Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2017 You Should Own

Records

Can you believe we’re more than halfway through 2017? What a crazy year it’s been so far – and what a year of music we’ve had!

For us at here at Timber and Steel 2017 has been a lot about reconnecting with new music from the amazing folk artists who first inspired us to start writing about this music, as well as the debut albums from a bunch of artists that we’ve been patiently waiting to release music for what feels like years.

So we thought we’d continue our tradition of the last couple of years to highlight ten albums and EPs we think should be part of your collection – as well as tell you exactly what it is about these records that we love.

So without further ado here’s our Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2017 You Should Own:

When We FallAll Our Exes Live In Texas

AOELIT
Watching All Our Exes Live In Texas transform from a one-off coming together of Sydney singer-songwriters a few years ago to the musical powerhouse they are today has been just a joy. When their debut album When We Fall dropped this year fans were rewarded with some fine fine songwriting, pitch perfect production and a true celebration of the four part harmony. Despite the disparate styles of each member’s solo work, When We Fall is a beautiful, cohesive album that demands to be listened to over and over again.

Cover My TracksCharlie Fink

Charlie Fink
Noah and The Whale’s 2009 concept album The First Days of Spring is easily one of my favourite releases of the last 10 years. Its sprawling dissection of frontman Charlie Fink’s break up with Laura Marling is a true masterpiece. So when Fink’s promo around his new solo album Cover My Tracks likened it as an unofficial sequel to The First Days of Spring I was more than a little skeptical, especially given the Springsteen-light pop direction Noah and The Whale took in its final years. But the truth is that Cover My Tracks delivers. It still doesn’t hold a candle to The First Days of Spring but Charlie Fink has captured some of his early magic with his solo album. The release is another concept album (which also comes accompanied by a play written by David Greig) and it deserves to be listened to from start to finish. It’s great to have Charlie Fink back doing what he does best.

Sweet Kind of BlueEmily Barker

Emily Barker
I was lucky enough to see Emily Barker at a super intimate show in Melbourne back in April, just as she was about to release Sweet Kind of Blue. Watching Barker on stage with just herself, her guitar and an accompanying double bass just solidified how good she is as a songwriter – when you strip back the production of Sweet Kind of Blue there’s still something amazing at the core. She deftly combines country, blues and folk styles, harkening back to a tradition while still producing a sound that is fresh and engaging. It’s about time Australia started paying more attention to Emily Barker, esepcially if she keeps producing music like Sweet Kind of Blue.

Crack-UpFleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes
Following a six-year break Fleet Foxes return with their very special brand of 70’s folk nostalgia on Crack-Up. Robin Pecknold and co’s harmonic, sweet vocals over Fleet Foxes’ epic, rhythmic melodies have been sorely missed and it’s great to see them balancing the nostalgia of their earlier work with their need to grow artistically. Despite the off-putting opening track “I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar” Crack-Up is a solid album that can stand proudly next to Helplessness Blues and their self titled debut. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another six years for album number four.

SillionJohnny Flynn

Johnny Flynn
The return of Johnny Flynn to folk-singing this year came as a bit of surprise given his recent focus on his screen and stage acting career (if you haven’t seen Lovesick on Netflix we can recommend giving it a crack). But we’re so glad Flynn’s picked up the resonator again because Sillion is an absolute gem of an album. Johnny Flynn’s distinctive voice is once again front and centre on the album but he seems to be playing with the production a bit more, adding more texture and nuance to each of the tracks. I don’t know if this is the start of a new direction for Johnny Flynn – if it is I’m interested to see where he goes next.

DragonflyKasey Chambers

Kasey Chambers
There are two big things that excited me about Kasey Chambers’ new album Dragonfly. Firstly the fact that the double album had two different producers – Paul Kelly and Nash Chambers respectively – giving each disc a distinct sound. And secondly the raft of collaborations with really interesting artists such as Vika & Linda Bull, Keith Urban, Paul Kelly, Foy Vance, Harry Hookey, Ed Sheeran and Grizzlee Train – many of those, you’d agree, wouldn’t normally be associated with Kasey Chambers’ music. The result is one of Kasey Chambers’ most interesting and dare we say best albums to date.

Semper FeminaLaura Marling

Laura Marling
Laura Marling has gone deep on her exploration of the feminine in her brand new album Semper Femina and I love it. It was really interesting watching Marling explore feminine creativity in her podcast series Reversal of the Muse earlier this year and Semper Femina seems to be the artistic extension of the conversations she was having with the likes of Marika Hackman, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. The album is yet another example of Laura Marling’s skills as a songwriter, guitarist and singer – each song is perfectly crafted. Laura Marling truly is one of the greatest artists of our generation.

The Ahern BrothersThe Ahern Brothers

The Ahern Brothers
The Ahern Brothers is the perfect coupling of singer-songwriters Josh Rennie-Hynes and Steve Grady, bringing two-part male harmony singing in the vein of The Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel and more recently The Milk Carton Kids to an Australian audience. Their self-titled debut album is a pure delight and elevates everything we’ve heard from Rennie-Hynes and Grady individually to date. I have a sneaking suspicion this album is going to make it onto a lot of people’s best of end of year lists. Beautiful.

The MorrisonsThe Morrisons

The Morrisons
We’ve already said plenty about The Morrisons’ long awaited self-titled debut album but there was no way it was going to get left off this list. The Morrisons are easily one of Australia’s best bluegrass and alt-country bands, it’s just a pity it takes them so long to get a record in stores. The Morrisons is an album of quintessentially Australian songs set to the familiar chop of a quintessentially American musical style. And it doesn’t hurt that individually each of The Morrisons is a master of their respective instrument making the album as technically brilliant as it is artistically brilliant. Now what do we have to do to get The Morrisons back in the studio for a followup?

BloomTimothy James Bowen

Timothy James Bowen
If you’ve been following Timothy James Bowen’s story over the last couple of years you’ll know it’s not been an easy journey for the singer songwriter. Diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal B Cell Lymphoma (a type of blood cancer), Bowen spent much of 2016 in treatment before going into remission. Bloom bookends this massive upheaval in his life, but it also shows how a songwriter of Timothy James Bowen’s talent is able to channel his experience into his art. Even without the personal context Bloom is an amazing EP – here are five incredible songs from a master songwriter.

And of course special mention also has to go to so many other albums and EPs that were released in the first six months of 2017 including (but not limited to):

VacancyBroads
Postcards From The Shell HouseBusby Marou
All You Need Is MusicDavidson Brothers
÷Ed Sheeran
PunchbuzzHusky
The Nashville SoundJason Isbell & The 400 Unit
UnchartedJoel Barker & The Low Company
Jordan Ireland With Purple OrchestraJordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra
Barefoot WonderlandJustin Bernasconi
Universal FavoriteNoam Pikelny
50 Years Of Blonde On BlondeOld Crow Medicine Show
Good Days, These DaysQuinton Trembath
Freedom HighwayRhiannon Giddens
The WaterSam Buckingham
PlanetariumSufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister
CyclingTaryn La Fauci
Take Care Take CoverThe Mae Trio
IronbarkThe Waifs
A Fair WindTrioc

2 Comments

  1. July 28, 2017 at 16:33

    […] We pick the top ten albums and EPs you should own from the first half of 2017 including releases from All Our Exes Live in Texas, Charlie Fink, Emily Barker, Fleet Foxes, Johnny Flynn, Kasey Chambers, Laura Marling, The Ahern Brothers, The Morrisons and Timothy James Bowen. Blog here […]

  2. August 3, 2017 at 09:36

    […] recently released her album Sweet Kind of Blue (which we reckon you should own) and she’s promising to pull heavily from it on the tour as well as mixing in some […]


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