1. “Carry My Soul” by Phil Wickham
Phil Wickham is a respected worship song-writer who has established a name for himself both because of his energy and passion, and because of his unique lyrical content. His writing often includes an unexpected turn or twist that brings something unique to the worship music scene. “Carry My Soul” is the third track off of Wickham’s fifth studio album, The Ascension. It is one of the more acoustic tracks on the album, but it has its own energy. The song reflection on the joy of entering heaven, and Wickham sings with such beauty and passion.
2. “Long Way Home” by Kat Edmonson and Lyle Lovett
I ran across Edmonson’s sound several years ago, as she was an opener at a concert I attended. She describes her sound as “vintage pop” and it seems fitting. Reminiscent of 40s and 50s sounds, her sound overall harkens back to a different time in American music. This song, featuring the inimitable Lyle Lovett, is a beautiful duet about falling in love, taking the scenic route home to enjoy the feeling a bit longer. The jazz styled acoustic and mandolin adds the perfect touch to the track.
3. “Silver Lining” by Rilo Kiley
I don’t know much about this indie rock band, but this song is from their first major label debut, Under the Blacklight (2007). “Silver Linings” was the second single off of that album and was a smashing hit. It too has a more vintage sound to it. Vocalist Jenny Lewis sings about her attempt to be the “silver lining” in a relationship, an effort which eventually left her bitter and disappointed. She came to her senses and parted ways. The song has a great beat and super cool sound.
4. “Moonglow” by Dizzy Gillespie
This 1933 jazz composition by Will Hudson and Irving Mills is incredibly popular. It has been recorded and adapted by loads of famous musicians and vocalists, including: Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby, and Billie Holiday, just to name a few. This version by the famous trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is a particular version I am fond of. Gillespie is a virtuoso and he gives a real life to this song. It’s a great version to listen to while driving around or doing some chores. Mellow and smooth, but with breathtaking solos throughout.
5. “One Sunday Morning” by Wilco
This is a truly great American song. The song tells a story, and in this case the story has all the marks of a good novel. It has a compelling plot, the strained relationship of a father and son, with additional layers of challenge like that of religion. It’s also 12 minutes long, but it doesn’t have that feeling of monotony and pretension like other lengthy tracks by other artists. The song is also complex, a fine balancing act. The song is both mellow and sparse, and yet at the same time full. It both builds upon itself and yet returns to the same melodic guitar riff; it’s both simple and diverse in musical composition. It ends, and yet seems to begin again – this happens literally in the song as it has a false ending. It is a beautiful song, and serves to both expose regret and refocus efforts to love well. I genuinely love this song.