Former contestants from The Voice released more than 60 albums and EPs in 2017.
Below are my picks for the five best.
These are albums or EPs that grabbed my attention when I started listening. Albums so good that I was never tempted to skip songs because I was eager to hear what’s next. And albums where the what’s next certainly didn’t disappoint.
Of course, best is a relative term and certainly has something to do with musical tastes. So if you’ve got another album you think should be a must-hear for fans of The Voice, feel free to comment below.
The goal is to alert fans to the great music being released by artists from the show, so the more, the merrier. Head here for a look at all the 2017 Post-Voice albums and EPs. And if I’ve missed anyone, please let me know.
Now, my Top 5 of 2017. For each album, I’ve embedded three songs via Spotify. Prefer iTunes? Click on the link by the album title and it will take you to the album there.
1. Rebecca Loebe (Season 1, battle round) — “Blink”
The flat-out best singer-songwriter album I’ve heard yet from a former Voice contestant. Want songs you can sing along to? Rebecca delivers with “Cannonball” and “Bad Things.” Want a lovely ballad? Rebecca’s got it covered with album-opening “Lies.” Want great songs about topics you might not expect? The self-described gypsy minstrel tackles domestic abuse in “Weeping Willow” and easy money in the aptly titled “Easy Money.” “Blink” is so loaded with great songs, I think my favorite changed about six times over the course of 2017. The marked Rebecca’s first full-length album in five years, but she followed it up with a live album in November and has big plans in 2018. They include a February EP and tour of the UK with Scottish songwriter Findlay Napier, a spring tour with songwriters Bettysoo and Grace Pettis as The Sirens of South Austin (they’ll be releasing original music together too) and a summer return to the studio to begin recording the followup to “Blink.” Rebecca also launched a Patreon page in 2017 with a goal of getting 200 supporters by the end of the year. “We just hit it,” she told Voice views. “So on Sunday, I’m playing a patron-only online concert in which I’m playing the first song I ever learned on guitar. It’s going to be a fun — and kind of embarrassing — start to the year.”
2. Dia Frampton (Season 1, runner-up) — “Bruises”
On Facebook, Dia describes her music as “dreamy orchestral indie pop,” and that’s a great description. Post-Voice, you might recall that Dia released a pop album called “Red” that included some great tunes, yet seemed a bit scattershot. But she found her stride when she released an EP with Joseph Trapanese as Archis in 2015. And I knew this 12-track album would be on my Top 5 list way back in February when it was released. I mean, how can someone not be captivated by these songs and that voice? Dia explains her struggles in the music industry and the path to “Bruises” in an eloquent blog on her website. Writes Dia of “Bruises”: “Its theme is my theme in life. Keep going.” That’s certainly the message in “Golden Years” and “Blind,” two of the album’s best tracks. Single “Dead Man” is about being stuck in a relationship or situation going no where. Then there’s the glorious album-ending “Die Wild,” one of the best tracks released by any former Voice artist in 2017.
3. Jamar Rogers (Season 2, Top 8) — “Lazarus”
Jamar called “Lazarus” his five-year labor of love. It’s his debut album. It came eight years after we met him on American Idol and five years after he made it to the Top 8 on The Voice. “Since the name Lazarus carries a heavy religious connotation, I knew I’d be making a spiritual album. I wanted to remind folks of their own divinity and make music that lifted their spirits on bad days.” Mission accomplished. You can’t listen to the opening track “Baptize Me” and not want to hear more. And Jamar keeps right on delivering, especially on “Arrows,” a pre-“Lazarus” single, and on the impassioned ballad “”Let Me Treat You.” The 10-track album includes two versions of the latter song, one fully produced, one stripped down and perhaps even more powerful. What’s Jamar up to now? In late October, he announced he was going dark on social media so he could focus on “some music / visual art pieces I’m super proud of.”
4. Swon Brothers (Season 3, 3rd) — “Pretty Cool Scars”
I have no idea how these guys are not signed to a country music label. They released their second independent EP in March. And four of the six songs sound like sure-fire country hits given the proper promotion. But in addition to being a darn good song, “Pretty Cool Scars” could sum up The Swon Brothers’ career to this point. Yeah, Zach and Colton are no longer signed with Arista Nashville. But they seem to be doing just fine. They spent 2016 opening for Carrie Underwood on her “Storyteller” tour. In 2017, they headlined their own tour. Colton got engaged to someone Voice fans might know — Caroline Glaser, also from Season 3. And then there’s that new music. “Don’t Call Me,” with Colton singing lead for a change, has nearly 2 million streams on Spotify. “Dwight Trashed” is a great party song. But my favorite from the EP might be the addictive “About Last Night.”
5. Todd Kessler (Season 3, battle round) — “About Memory”
Every year, as I listen to albums and EPs from former contestants of The Voice it seems like someone comes out of nowhere to stun me with a brilliant release. This year, it was Todd Kessler with this eight-track album. Todd was performing as Todd Kessler and The New Folk when he auditioned for The Voice. A couple of years later, the band fell to the wayside as family obligations grew. But Todd said he had songs left over more suited to his singer-songwriter Americana roots. So he launched Kickstarter campaign, then released “About Memory.” As for that title? “I had heard an interview on the radio where the person being interviewed was talking about losing his father at a young age and how it was strange what he remembered about his father and what he didn’t,” Todd explains. “It got me thinking a lot about the nature of memory and how fluid it is, so I sat down and wrote that song. It ended up being the blueprint for what I wanted to album to be about and the emotions I wanted it to evoke.” There isn’t a throw-away song on the album, but my other favorites are “The Letter,” “Old-Fashioned Way” and “The Things We Do for Love.”
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Post-Voice albums and EPs from 2017
Top 5 albums/EPs of 2016
Top 5 albums/EPs of 2015
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