The 50 Best Albums of 2016

(December 26, 2016) It is always fun at the end of each year to celebrate the best of that year.  And 2016 had a lot of great soul music. And so we've gathered our music critics to each pick their favorites, which we've assembled below. 

The toughest part of this is limiting the choices, but each SoulTracks writer has chosen their top album of the year and we’ve collectively filled out the list with picks of the 50 best. These are uniformly releases with which you can't go wrong -- or so our critics say. Looking for a Christmas gift for a music lover?  Then spend some time with these winners. You can SEARCH at the top of this page to learn more about these talented artists. And share this with your friends using #SoulTracks2016.

Here are our Critics’ favorites and the rest of our Top 50 albums

(December 26, 2016) It is always fun at the end of each year to celebrate the best of that year.  And 2016 had a lot of great soul music. And so we've gathered our music critics to each pick their favorites, which we've assembled below. 

The toughest part of this is limiting the choices, but each SoulTracks writer has chosen their top album of the year and we’ve collectively filled out the list with picks of the 50 best. These are uniformly releases with which you can't go wrong -- or so our critics say. Looking for a Christmas gift for a music lover?  Then spend some time with these winners. You can SEARCH at the top of this page to learn more about these talented artists. And share this with your friends using #SoulTracks2016.

Here are our Critics’ favorites and the rest of our Top 50 albums

Anderson.Paak - Malibu and Yes Lawd!  This year Anderson.Paak released not one but two bonafide classic albums, Malibu and the considerably coarser Yes Lawd! (the latter under the duo moniker NxWorries). Each album mixing yesterday's L.A. traditional funk and soul grooves with gritty, contemporary lyrics, hip hop braggadocio, soulful yearnings, an observational eye for everyman details, and a poet's passion for his culture and community. That the artist formerly known as Breezy LoveJoy is as brilliant live as he is in the studio only makes his gifts that much more astonishing in today's urban pop landscape. (L. Michael Gipson)

Anthony Hamilton: What I'm Feelin'   Beyonce's relationship manifesto, Lemonade, certainly raised brows and got tongues wagging, but Anthony's Feelin' exposed self-inflicted wounds, broadcasted his angst and immortalized those hard lessons for the world at large. Prince was a fan and the Obamas selected him to pay homage to Ray Charles at the White House, but Hamilton's homespun persona and Southern brand of soul remains. (Melody Charles)

Chantae Cann: Journey to Golden -- A fabulous solo debut by one of the most in-demand singers in the indie soul world today. Cann's delicate vocals sit atop a jazzy soul soundscape featuring lush strings and memorable, piano-anchored melodies (Robb Patryk)

Eddie Levert - Did I May You Go Ooh   Our politics might have let us down in some way or another this year, but our music delivered big time, especially this veteran artist who released a surprisingly energetic project. Did I Make You Go Ooh? was consistent throughout, making me laugh on tracks such as “Shit Starter” and soothing with Levert’s ballad work on tracks such as the soulful “Never Miss Your Water.” Mr. Levert has still got it.  (Howard Dukes)

Fred Hammond: Worship Journal  One of the undisputed architects of urban contemporary worship returns with his first live recording in almost twenty years.  Whether live or in the studio, Fred Hammond proves his sincere love and respect for God resonates in a soulful, yet very pleasing manner. (Peggy Oliver)

Javier Colon - Gravity  Javier Colon was one of the first artists we ever covered on SoulTracks, and, while fame has come in spurts for him, he shows again on Gravity his immense gift for storytelling and for beautifully straddling the line between pop and soul. (Chris Rizik)

Kaytranada: 99.9% - Producer and song-slayer Kaytranada had a stronghold on 2016 with his album chockfull of eclectic sounds. House, soul, afrobeat - it was a sonic smorgasbord of music. His production gets tighter every year, and while it's always great to hear his stellar remixes, thank goodness we had a solid album to ride out to this year.  (Ann Marie Collymore)

The British Collective: Vol. 1: The Renaissance Begins… - While more than a fair share of R&B supergroups have graced our presence over the past few years, none have done so with such a multifarious musicality and rich vocal mélange as UK soulsters Omar, Junior, Leee John, Don-E, and Noel McKoy. The fellas’ 14-track debut set simmers with a little something for everyone: funky, feel-good floor-fillers, melodious midtempo’s, and sultry slow jams. Driven by quality repertoire and meaty arrangements, their rich individual vocal prowess and “collective” energy make for a standout set that hopefully is just the beginning of great things to come… (Justin Kantor)

St Paul & the Broken Bones: Sea of Noise - On their sophomore album, this Alabama-bred rock/soul revival band poured Otis Redding firepower and Isaac Hayes' symphonic soul unto thirteen tracks of perfected song craft, resulting as one of the grandiose discs of the year. Although the album feels complete from beginning to end, tracks like "Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)" and the slow burner "I'll Be Your Woman" were almost too impossible to shake(J. Matthew Cobb)

 

After 7 - Timeless
Aaron Abernathy - Monologue
Alex Isley - Luxury 
Beyoncé - Lemonade. 
BJ the Chicago Kid - In My Mind
Brian Culbertson - Funk
Dave Hollister - The MANUscript
D Maurice - Mosaic
Eric Benet - Eric Benet
Eryn Allen Kane - Aviary Act 1
Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution
Frank McComb - Soulmate
Goldswagger - Goldswagger
Greg Dean - The Greg Dean Project
Gregory Porter - Take Me To The Alley.
H.E.R. - H.E.R., Vol I
I, Ced - What Are We Looking For
James Day - Repertoire
Jamie Lidell - Building A Beginning
Javier Colon - Gravity
Joe - #MyNameIsJoeThomas
John Legend - Darkness and Light
Kandace Springs - Soul Eyes
Kari Faux - Lost en Los Angeles
Kenny Lattimore - A Kenny Lattimore Christmas
Kindred the Family Soul - Legacy of Love
KING - We Are KING
Laurin Talese - Gorgeous Chaos
Lawrence - Breakfast
Leon Timbo - What's Love All About
Lindsey Webster - Back to Your Heart
Macy Gray - Stripped
Major. - I Am Major.
Mario Biondi - Best of Soul
Mavis Staples - Livin' on a High Note
Michael Kiwanuka - Love and Hate.  
Navasha Daya - Lom Nava Love (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Nu Shooz - Bagtown
October London - Colorblind Love
Phonte and Eric Roberson - Tigallero
Rasheed Ali - 1968 Black Power
Regina Belle - The Day Life Began
Resurface - Where Have You Been
Rihanna - Anti
Silk - Quiet Storm
Solange - A Seat at the Table
Gabriel Tajeu - Southern Skies
Teyana Taylor, The Cassette Tape 1994 (Mixtape).    
The Suffers - The Suffers
Tweet - Charlene
Valerie Ghent - Velours
Zo! - Skybreak
 
Listening Room - Lizz Wright - Grace
Choice Cut - Toni Redd - "Take Me To Paradise"
Song of the Month - Phillip Brandon - "Come On"
CD of the Month - Najee - Poetry In Motion

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