It’s a late entry but Plastic Bouquet by Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams has snuck in to be my album of the year.
This Paste Magazine review sums up why it clicked for me:
For years, both Williams and Kacy & Clayton have been rising in the world of roots music, thanks in part to their shared leanings toward throwback sounds. And on Plastic Bouquet, their styles merge seamlessly, which is a word that’s overused to describe music these days. In this case, though, it perfectly captures these musicians’ complete coalescence.
The Music’s review seems right too:
The mood of Plastic Bouquet is sentimental and sincere, but occasionally playful, as Williams and Anderson embrace country’s tragic romance tropes. Deceptively jaunty, the opener Isn’t It reveals conflicted emotions. In the poppy Light Of Love, Anderson evokes Lana Del Rey with her soulful vibrato. Williams comes to the fore on the plaintive lead single I Wonder Why, with steel guitar. Old Fashioned Man is an arch prairie duet with contemporary ironising, with Anderson almost yodelling.
Williams also notably draws from his Māori heritage, with a distinctly Polynesian take on country – here, accentuating harmonies. In the quietly dramatic atmosphere of Arahura, he croons an ode to the South Island river of the same name, a spot known for its precious (and coveted) pounamu (greenstone). The darkest and most intimate moment arrives in the haunting ballad Devil’s Daughter, with Anderson showing her narrative flair.