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Best Of 2023: Songs In Order Of Preference Through February 28th

Going Down To Sing In Texas – Iris DeMent – This is the first time since “As It Was” that a new song blew me away, “Goin’ Down To Texas” is up there with “Let The Mystery Be” as a masterpiece by a singer songwriter from Arkansas and simply, and always, underestimated. If you can get past her gorgeous, southern tipped vocals, you will find that if the template is bluegrass it sure doesn’t stop there, “Texas” is immediately one of the top songs of the year.The song is a political firebomb of faith in god and love and respect for the women who came before her and during her, and who have changed the music business. The (Dixie) Chicks and the Squad are praised, the billionaires and violence by police against people of color are condemned. And then the punchline: “I’m going down to sing in Texas where anybody can carry a gun…” The clear comparison here is a writer like Bob Dylan, the eight minute song paddles through twelve verses (no chorus) that bangs in like “Subterranean Homesick Blues” as Iris Americana goes through chorus after chorus of personal and political at the same time. Iris is no stranger to taking a stand, though she is a serious Christian the Jesus she loves is the one who threw the money lenders out of the synagogue. After the pandemic, Iris considers the world and how important it is to be on the right side of God. She sees who is doing what to whom and draws a line with a “Go ahead and shoot me if it floats your little boat”. “Texas” is about standing up for what you believe. This is Iris’s first work since 2015 and her best since 2013, it is the magic that is DeMent, a sublime woman, greatly gifted, fearless. If you don’t know Iris you don’t read Myself, Helen Bach, and Steve Crawford have written about her often, I’ve done three live reviews myself, and then, and now, if the choice was between Iris and Taylor Swift, I would go with Iris. The most well written songs with comfortable, secular Gospel-y piano and music that rubs against the most honest lyrics you will ever hear. She is incomparable… maybe there is hope for tomorrow…It is too long to remain on top forever, but it will for now…

Sunset – Caroline Polachek -flamenco as indie pop meets electronica

Bed Of Roses – Ian Hunter, Mike Campbell, Ringo Starr – the ubiquitous Mike Campbell plus Ringo himself add their instruments and it works better than it had any right, a classic rock sound by a classic dude seemingly in complete control on what heralds a maybe very major late career return album

Testimony – Whitney Houston – it took them eleven years to start in on the posthumous releases, but if this is what we were waiting for, a terrific gospel rocker, it was worth it

This Is Why – Paramore – if the album was nothing if not a bummer, the title track was their best since “Still Into You” and also the post-pandemic anthem.

Radio [Feat. Sharon Van Etten] – Margo Price – Price’s best song to date is a gorgeous Americana pop track with the line of the year (so far!): “the only thing I have on is the radio

HOUSE OF CARDS – Kevin Shields Rainbow Belts Remix – Eyedress – if you don’t think the MBV leader Kevin is exceptional, listen to the Eyedress original if you are wondering), turning it into a drowning in sugar slow rush of electronic genius.

Easy Now – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – there are high flyin’ rumors of Oasis re-uniting and this is Noel at his most Oasis to date, a terrific bigscale rocker and maybe part two of the Oasis story. Check out the video starring Milly Alcock of “House Of The Dragon” at the top

Hollywood Baby – 100 gecs – the duo may not be the future of pop music but they are absolutely a future of pop, where hyper pop is too damn catchy to be experimental

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