Today, I’ll present my final 2016 in Review blog, looking back at my favorite post-Voice albums and EPs from the past year.
Former contestants of The Voice released more than 80 albums and EPs in 2016, and lots of them were impressive.
But I’ll spotlight just five of the 80-plus here. They’re five that struck me as special the first time I listened to them. And lost none of their appeal after repeated listening.
I’ve included two of my favorite songs from each album or EP in the Spotify playlist at right.
If I’ve missed anyone, let me know by commenting below. Or email me at VoiceViews@comcast.net.
Now, those Top 5 albums. Happy listening!
“Josh Kaufman” EP by Josh Kaufman: Please explain to me how a record company couldn’t make a post-show album with a guy who brings that voice, that much range and this batch of original tunes to the table? Ugh! Anyway, Josh’s post-show debut came two years after winning Season 6 and includes an impressive variety of sounds, from the lovely lead single “Truth Be Told” to the raucous and soulful “Digging Deep.”
“Monster” by Sarah Potenza: The minute I heard Sarah was planning her post-Voice album, I had a feeling we were in for something special. I mean, she brings a special combination of country, rock, blues, soul and heart to her music. And the Top 20 finisher from Season 8 didn’t disappoint. There’s something that should appeal to everyone on her first post-show album. My favorites include “My Turn,” “Up on the Third Floor,” “Bird” and the title track. She also includes a great cover of “Take Me to Church.
“From the Grave” by Juliet Simms: The Season 2 runner-up serves up eight more reasons why she should have won The Voice in Season 2 on this mini-album of songs that hadn’t found a home. Luckily for us, they did. Fans of rocker Juliet will love “Say Hello,” “Trouble Finds You” and “My Last Whiskey Tears.” Fans of her knack for delivering impassioned ballads will love “Frances” and “Phoenix.” Since I’m a huge fan of Juliet’s raspy, no-holds-bared vocals, I love it all. “Say Hello” also made my list of Top 20 songs of 2016.
“It Never Happens” EP by Sam James: Every year you can count on a delightful unexpected surprise from someone who appeared on The Voice. Last year, it was Season 1’s Angela Wolff with her brilliant “Surrender and Release” EP. This year, it’s Sam from Season 3. He serves up five songs and they’re all superb, though “Love Hangover,” “Words to Life” and “You Don’t Know Me” are my favorites. The latter also made my top songs list. Sam’s proof great post-show music doesn’t just come from Voice finalists. He was eliminated in the knockout round.
“Side A” EP by Christina Grimmie: A sentimental choice? Absolutely. But I was listening to the four songs on this EP over and over again from the day “Side A” came out, long before a crazed fan took Christina’s life in June. I had no doubt this was the best, most addictive music Christina had released. And the songs left me yearning for a “Side B” we’ll probably never get, though her family plans to release a new single next month. Videos for the four tracks were released as “The Ballad of Jessica Blue” after her death. You can check those out here. Her “Deception” video made by list of best post-Voice videos of 2016.