Welcome to our festive feature where the Belles and Gals team get together to bring you the highlights of their year. Today Nathalie Larsen (twitter.com/nathalieslarsen) shares her highlights of 2018!
Favourite live music moment
Not just did Ashley McBryde release her critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated debut album Girl Going Nowhere in 2018, she also hopped across the pond not once, but twice. On the first of these visits, following her sets at C2C, she played a sold out show at the Borderline on Monday night. The whole set was extraordinary, but one song – Bible and a 44. – left me speechless and in floods of tears. It was one of my happiest moments in the weeks following when I realised someone had captured those 6 minutes on video and uploaded it onto YouTube. I still cry when I watch it back, and I do that rather often just to hear the third verse of the song (it’s not on the studio version).
Favourite new artist discovery
I was adamant I’d only pick one, but then I realised that the two I’d narrowed it down to are BFFS, and nothing gets between BFFS. So Lainey Wilson and Kasey Tyndall will share this spot, in the hope that next time Lainey comes over to visit the UK, she’ll bring along Kasey.
P.S Kasey’s single “Bar That’s Open” was actually a co-write with Lainey and Ashley.
The ladies of country music killed it in 2018 releasing the best singles, EPs and albums of the year, but I’ll highlight two of my favourites that didn’t manage to garner the buzz and acclaim they deserve (hence, it’s a good thing that Pistol Annie’s album Interstate Gospel isn’t featured below). Instead Canadian songstress Meghan Patrick’s early year release of Country Music Made Me Do It and songwriter Heather Morgan’s debut album Borrowed Heart take the price. You can only listen to one song, which one should it be? The Bad Guy and Your Hurricane have been my “on repeat”.
On this one, I’m just going to trust the statistics. With no further ado, Kelleigh Bannen – Happy Birthday, and Harper Grae – Monster took the two stop spots this year with these heart-breaking yet hopeful songs. Both these songs are characterised by controlled and haunting vocal performances. Honourary mention to Logan Brill – Giving Up which fits into this group perfectly.
Favourite surprise obsession
Country Folk and Americana is usually the side of country music I leave to fellow team members of Belles and Gals.
But call it what you want, with “Dancing with the Beast” Gretchen Peters released one of the best albums of 2018 and made a convert out of me. “Wichita” is what country music is all about, storytelling at the finest, and a tale you’ll never forget.
“Disappearing Act” comes in at a close second:
Well I lost two babies, kept one more /
Lost him too when he went to war /
All his daddy could say is it’ll make him a man /
He did two tours of duty out in Iraq /
He came home but he didn’t come back /
After listening to Spotify on average 3-4 hours a day over the last few years, I tend to have moved away from playlists, as the algorithms know me so well that the Daily Mixes will always hit the spot. That being said, I put together one short playlist this year that I played over and over, check it out.