For Billboard’s 2019 Year in Music, various musicians picked their favorite album released in the past 12 months — and talked about why it’s stuck with them.
This year, the records I was really listening to were older, like McCartney II and a lot of Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch, but Sharon has been one of my favorite artists and songwriters since I started listening to her in high school. I’ve always been in awe of her, her voice and her production style. When I was at New York University — she’s such a New York figure — she was someone I looked up to, and she inevitably became a mentor and a friend in a real way as I was graduating from college.
But this year, there was this real beautiful synchronicity — I shared a release day with Sharon; [her] record came out the same day as [mine], Heard It in a Past Life, and we got to cheers together that night. It feels so connected to my record in a way — like, if mine is light, hers is really dark, but in a way that I love. It’s so haunted. There’s so much grit in this record but still so much space. I’m hanging on every breath when it starts, the spacing of those chords — you just don’t know when the next one is going to come. It grabs you immediately. I also love the pacing; the track list is perfect.
Something I always try and put into my music is just the beauty of being human, trying to make something that shows the flaws, because that friction is what makes great records great. There are a couple of perfect moments on this where Sharon’s voice cracks; she’s just yelling, but she’s so empowering in her rawness. The way the record takes you through these emotions, it feels like driving at night through Los Angeles — you hear it lyrically.
This is a giant year of change for me, both personally and professionally. It’s a mess out there — you got to hold tight to the albums that hold you. I feel like she had me, like she was with me. Having these moments of chaos within the record that are also in some way very organized, it made me feel settled in the deep unsettling I was going through — it was a tour companion. It’s no surprise that this record hit me, because I love everything that Sharon makes, but it really found me right when I needed it.