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The Sound Cafe Magazine Top 10 Debut Albums 2021

By Stevie Connor.

We love to feature new music and artists from around the world on The Sound Cafe Magazine platform, especially debut releases, I am amazed at the quantity and quality of the many recordings that have come our way, I've compiled a list of albums of my Top 10 choices from 2021 that I think you should research and get to know better.

We wish you all a Happy New Year for 2022 from The Sound Cafe team.

Explore... Engage... Enjoy !

1. American Singer-Songwriter Kiely Connell

Hailing from Hammond, Indiana and currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, Americana artist Kiely Connell blends working-class Rust Belt grit with Southern charm, defying regional classification and painting a detailed portrait of a life in modern America. On her debut LP, Calumet Queen, Connell pays tribute to her hometown near the Calumet River that shaped her personality while reflecting on the struggles one must endure to thrive in a harsh and often isolating world.

“A lot of the songs on this album are about overcoming my struggles with depression and anxiety,” says Connell. “But it’s also a collection of stories about self-medicating with alcohol, and things I’d been observing in people close to me.”

2. American Singer-Songwriter Grace Pettis

Award-winning singer/songwriter Grace Pettis has released her highly-anticipated debut full album on MPress Records titled Working Woman.

The record features an all-female/non-binary band, and was produced by singer-songwriter Mary Bragg and mixed by 2x Grammy® award winner Shani Gandhi. The rest of the credits on the album include an all-female/non-binary team as well, including co-writers, the photographer, and the graphic designer. Featured artists include Indigo Girls ("Landon"), Ruthie Foster ("Pick Me Up"), Dar Williams ("Any Kind of Girl"), The Watson Twins ("Never Get It Back"), Gina Chavez ("Mean Something"), and Mary Bragg ("Paper Boat").

3. Canadian Singer-Songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson

After a decade in the music industry, Alpha is Charlotte Day Wilson's first full-length album. The album is preceded by three EPs, the latter two which are commercially available. Like her previous work, all of her tracks are written, produced, and released by Wilson and employ collaborations with fellow Toronto-based artists. This included frequent collaborators BadBadNotGood and Daniel Caesar as well as Mustafa and singer Merna Bishouty.

4. Canadian Americana-Roots Collaboratives The Hello Darlins

The concept of The Hello Darlins first took shape back in 2016 when Calgary-based Candace Lacina and keyboardist Mike Little (also known as MFL), crossed paths again after first meeting at a recording studio six years earlier. Upon reconnecting, they soon found themselves making music together in between their work with other artists, an impressive list that ranges from Shania Twain to Charlie Major, The Road Hammers to George Canyon as well as the late B.B. King.

Through The Hello Darlins, Lacina and Little, along with a powerhouse supporting cast anchored by Winnipeg-based guitarist/producer Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies, Ariel Posen, The Bros. Landreth) combine all of their skills and influences to forge a hybrid of country, gospel and blues like no other.

5. English Singer-Songwriter Jenny Colquitt

Emerging artist Jenny Colquitt encompasses a unique combination of Americana, indie and folk rock and pop. Jenny has released her debut album, Something Beautiful, which is available to download and stream across all mainstream digital platforms. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced listen a month or so ago, and was very impressed.

With a voice that uniquely combines the melodic undertones of artists such as Eva Cassidy and the rawness of Alanis Morissette, she writes with soul, lyrical vulnerability and style to accompany her musicality both through keys and guitar.

6. Nigerian Afropop and R&B Artist Ayra Starr

Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe, known professionally as Ayra Starr, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and model. Born in Cotonou, Ayra Starr began a fashion career at the age of 16 with Quove Model Management before deciding to pursue music. After covering several songs by popular artists on Instagram, she posted her first original song on her page in December 2019. This brought her to the attention of record executive Don Jazzy, and led to her signing to Mavin Records.

Ayra released her first full-length studio album, 19 & Dangerous in August 2021. Categorized mainly as Afropop and R&B, the album has been met with favourable critical reception. It spawned two top forty hits in Nigeria. The lead single "Bloody Samaritan" peaked atop the Top 50 chart, becoming the first solo song by a female artist to reach the number-one position. Starr debuted on Pandora Predictions chart, and on 28 August 2021, she ranked number two on Billboard's Next Big Sound.


7. Australian Rock 'n' Soul Outfit Leslie D. King & The Trembling Shakes

Hailing from Cobden, Victoria, Leslie D. King illuminates the everyday struggles with family, friends, the search for identity and everything in between. Drawing influence from Nathaniel Rateliff & The NIghtsweats and Alabama Shakes he has created his own blend of soul and blues.

They now have their long awaited debut release out, and it has been the warmest introduction to this ramshackle group of rock n rollers, Leslie front and centre showcasing his bold vocals and infectious energy, backed by his charismatic band of soul-soaked, heart filled rock 'n' roll, it's hard not to get caught up in the fun of this recording.

8. Canadian Americana-Roots Artist Kyle McKearney

Following a string of warmly received singles over the past year, Calgary, Alberta-based singer/songwriter Kyle McKearney released his new solo album Down-Home. Produced by the renowned Russell Broom (Jann Arden/Leeroy Stagger/Joe Nolan/Mariel Buckley).

Kyle is also proudly Métis, and his heritage plays a significant role in his new music, further setting him apart from his peers. It is all leading up to the arrival of a new and important voice in the Canadian roots music world, and one that is sure to resonate with listeners everywhere.

9. Irish Indie-Pop Artist Brí

Brí released a stunning single and accompanying video for her new song 'In My Head' on September 9th released her highly anticipated debut album 'Hide' on Oct 22nd.

About her debut album, Brí says..."'The theme of my debut album grew from my song 'Hide'. I've always held other people's opinions above my own and let fear hold me back both in music and in life. This album embodies the fallout and the resolutions that stemmed from this into many facets of my life. A loud theme that has been reinforced since the album's inception; the entire process of making 'Hide' in itself, has forced me to trust my gut and to honour my vision. '..From now on I won't hide.''

10. Australian Emerging Country Artist Rhianna Fibbins

Rhianna Fibbins' debut EP “From The Valley Looking Out” is a intimate, reflective and spirited collection of songs close to her heart. From the warm going with the flow vibe of ‘Roll River’ to the heartbreak of tragically losing a dear friend in ‘Diamonds and Coal’ these songs are little emotional landmarks in her life, full of big warm heartstring pullers with a touch of homespun longing.

Recorded live one weekend in the cozy studio of Two Bright Lakes with renowned producer Nick Huggins at the wheel these songs took shape with steady rhythm section Matt Earl on drums and Steve Temple on double bass and were accentuated with the elevating fiddle playing of Chance McCoy (Old Crow Medicine Show) and dazzling style of Jy- Perry Banks on pedal steel.

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