Key of A's Alberta Top 10 albums of 2016

CBC Radio's Key of A Best of 2016 offers a Top 10 list in an eclectic mix of styles from hip hop to country, folk to indie rock and soul to electronica — even a drinking song.

Our annual round-up of the top musical releases in Alberta

Rae Spoon's album Armour, released by Spoon's own label Coax Records, makes the Key of A's Top 10 for 2016. (J.J. Levine)

Our Key of A Best of 2016 offers a Top 10 list in an eclectic mix of styles; from hip hop to country, folk to indie rock; soul to electronica — even a drinking song.


Nuela CharlesThe Grand Hustle

When this Edmonton-based soul singer entered CBC's Searchlight contest in 2013, her song Unfortunate Love attracted a lot of attention.

It also won her the inaugural Edmonton Music Prize. Now she's back with a full-length follow-up in a style she describes as "cinematic soul."

Boreal SonsYou & Everyone

Last time Calgary's Boreal Sons released an album they were a four piece. Now — minus a guitarist — they're a trio.

They've taken that limitation as a creative challenge, reshaping their sound with more rhythm and electronics. Evan Acheson's voice is still front and centre. Often, on this album, he's singing about loss.

Arlo MaverickMaybe Tomorrow

You might remember Arlo Maverick from his work with the Edmonton hip-hop group Politic Live.

His debut solo album tells the story of a character he calls "Soup," a promising musician struggling with loss, addiction and the search for success. Soup is troubled, but he's also tough and not afraid to look trouble right in the eye.

Rae SpoonArmour

Rae Spoon changes genres with every album. From country to singer-songwriter; electronic dance music to storytelling and back.

The latest Rae Spoon album is full of songs about how to protect yourself, and deciding when it's time to take the armour off. The album was released on Spoon's own label, Coax Records.

Matt PatershukI Was So Fond of You

Patershuk's album is dedicated to his younger sister, who was killed by a drunk driver. The songs process feelings of loss, anger, regret and tenderness.

Produced in Nashville by Canadian Steve Dawson and released on his Black Hen Music label, it earned WCMA nominations for music and production.

100 mile houseHiraeth

Denise MacKay and Peter Stone share their struggle to start a family in this heartbreakingly lovely new album.

The title "Hiraeth" is a Welsh word without direct English equivalent — it refers to a sense of longing or loss, for something you've never had, and can't quite imagine.

Evan FreemanLuna

Calgary's Evan Freeman roared out of the gate with a big, ambitious debut album that's gotten rave reviews and earned him ardent fans and performance spots at the 2016 Calgary Folk Music Festival and this year's upcoming Block Heater Festival.

Tanika CharlesSoul Run

Charles grew up in Edmonton. Her first album tells her story of leaving a bad relationship on a farm outside of town, heading for the bright lights of Toronto and making a new life for herself centred on music.

After several years singing back-up with the likes of Bedouin Soundclash and Zaki Ibrahim, this solo debut takes her to the front of the stage with a sound she calls "one part jazz, two parts soul, equal parts control with a hint of the blues."

The Northwest PassageA_WAKE

Moody, finely-crafted songs focused around the voice and piano of Paul van Kampen.

You may know him from his past work in bands like Beija Flor and SAVK — both with his brother Stephen leading the way. Now Paul is out front, with introspective lyrics about life, death, spirituality and morality.

Danielle French Presents: Miss Scarlett and the MadmenDark Love Songs

Danielle French is a songwriter and filmmaker from Calgary. All of the songs on this album are co-written with artists she met at the Holiday Music Motel, a songwriting retreat in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. — a functioning hotel complete with recording studio.

Danielle says it gave her the chance to stretch her style of singing and the content of her songs, in ways that gave her a definite creative push. The result is getting rave reviews across North America.

Listen to the Key of A Saturday 5-6 p.m. across Alberta on CBC Radio 1.


Katherine Duncan

Key of A Host

A classically trained musician, Katherine hosts CBC Music (formerly Radio 2) programs Choral Concert and Centre Stage, and highlights original music by Alberta artists on CBC Radio 1's Key of A. From 2016 to 2019, she served as Jury Foreperson of the Polaris Music Prize.