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2016, The Ultimate Playlist: Troubadours And Soloists

Joanne Shaw Taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor: in the know.

Joanne Shaw Taylor Dyin’ To Know

With a brittle lick and burnt-honey vocals, Taylor’s calling cards were present and correct on Dyin’ To Know, while the lyric sheet saw her explore her dark side. “It’s about addiction,” she revealed. “That compulsion to repeatedly do something that has a negative impact on your life.”

Zakk Wylde Sleeping Dogs

If Book Of Shadows II reminded us that metal berserker Zakk Wylde can do sensitive, this wistful ballad confirmed that guest vocalist Corey Taylor has a stunning singing voice. Even so, Wylde was presumably taking the piss when he described their collaboration as “the modern-day Simon And Garfunkel”.

Bruce Springsteen He’s Guilty (The Judge Song)

While the Born To Run autobiography laid The Boss bare, for the Chapter And Verse companion piece Springsteen rifled through his musical vaults. Previously unreleased, He’s Guilty rewound the clock to a roaring 1970 session by his band Steel Mill in San Mateo, and suggested this early outfit could have been contenders.

Steven Wilson My Book Of Regrets

Wary that he “usually fucks up” his best pop songs, Steven Wilson had laboured over this one since 2013. He needn’t have worried. When it finally emerged on the album My Book Of Regrets was a real stunner: hooky, melodic yet decorated with enough curve-balls to justify its 10-minute duration.

Hiss Golden Messenger Biloxi

Hiss Golden Messenger’s latest album Heart Like A Levee took form as frontman MC Taylor sat in a Washington hotel room feeling “wrenched apart”, but you’d never have guessed it from this sun-kissed strum, which has a Dylan-style sung-through-the-nose vocal and slide guitar evoking a southern sundown.

The White Buffalo Radio With No Sound

In a year of upbeat pleasures, Radio With No Sound was the comedown. With its sad clang of honky-tonk piano, swoon of strings and Jake Smith’s fathoms-deep vocals, this neck-tingling fulcrum of Love And The Death Of Damnation represented Americana at its finest.