Here in the season of our pre-post-pandemic tension, it’s hard to know what to feel. It’s even harder to know how to put it into words, since we are all — lest you haven’t heard it repeated recently — living in unprecedented times. But fortunately, we have some spectacular artists to help us navigate the such times, with songwriters who are adept at grasping the things we struggle to express, whether through a perfect turn of phrase, an empathic shout-along chorus or, sometimes, a wordless melody that says more than any lyric ever could.
Lots of artists are doing this exceptionally right now. Here are a few doing it better than just about anyone so far here in 2021.
Madlib: Sound Ancestors
One of the best DJs to ever do it is back to remind everyone of just how good he is.
Maverick City Music/Elevation Worship: Old Church Basement
Two of today’s best worship bands team up for a sound that reaches new highs — and lyrics that plumb new depths.
Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over Country Clubs
This musical road trip across an American empire in decline finds inspiration in the rubble.
Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams
Her legions of fans say she’s the voice of a generation. Her debut suggests they might just be right.
Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
This exploration of depression, addiction, hope and faith strikes the perfect balance between thoughtful nuance and stunning beauty.