I’m a sucker for amazing vocals, and I was at a loss in 2019 to explain the tidal wave of fantastic vocal performances. This year’s list was certainly a difficult one to make. Check out my top ten favorite vocalists of 2019 below.
10. Anadale – Jolly
Some may try to say that Jolly’s Anadale isn’t a top tier singer, but I absolutely disagree. He has a voice that can work in almost any genre setting, and so he is diverse and dynamic in his delivery. Much of the time, he has the perfect grungy smoothness, and that is my favorite tone of his. On “Family”, though, he displays his range and imagination impressively.
9. Mariana Azevedo – Sollar
Mariana has probably the most interesting voice I heard in 2019. She has a lower range, and so she is able to stand strongly against the tide of riffs and beats on Sollar’s debut. Yes, I would call her voice powerful, but also groovy in the way she makes transitions and holds notes, and she just has that soul to her voice that reminds me of some vocalist legends.
8. Henrik Båth – Darkwater
Henrik happens to have one of the most recognizable voices in progressive metal. I would know it is him on any album, anywhere. His emotional higher range has a power that it really shouldn’t, and he offers an amazing amount of soul, as well. “Human” would not have been the album it is without Henrik’s powerful presence.
7. George Prokopiou – Mother of Millions
My goodness, the sheer scale of emotion that George can produce is absolutely amazing. “Artifacts” is a heartfelt experience in many ways, but the biggest reason for that is George’s meditative musings cast up against his towering moments of pure feeling and love. I need to hear more of his work, for sure.
6. Nad Sylvan
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Nad Sylvan. His illustrious, theatrical style is never dull, never ordinary. Sure, he sings with Steve Hackett on his Genesis Revisited tours, and he does a great job there. But I love the beautiful, poetic vocals on his solo albums the most.
5. Devin Townsend
Some of the most jaw-dropping vocal moments of the year came from Devin himself. His signature melodic harsh vox are almost indescribable except that I can say they are truly beautiful. Devin proved also, however, that he can put any Disney diva to shame with towering melodic vocals straight off the stage. Devin really outdid himself in 2019.
4. Tom Englund – Evergrey
Tom is my favorite vocalist of all time. With “The Atlantic”, he put in one of his greatest performances, offering truly human intensity. The sorrow and pain of the lyrical content would be nothing without Tom’s unique, earnest voice.
3. Einar Solberg – Leprous
Where can I begin with Einar? He has always had one of the best voices in modern progressive music, but with “Pitfalls”, he bumped it up a few notches. Not only did he sing with a passion that you could see sparkling in his eyes, but he also sang with a deeper musicality and melody than on any previous album. I was absolutely stunned on several different songs because of the power and melody that Einar brought. Absolutely inspiring.
2. Olivia Sparnenn-Josh – Mostly Autumn
Olivia has always been a great singer, full of emotive and technical ability. On Mostly Autumn’s “White Rainbow”, though, she completely outdid herself. Her range will raise the hair on the back of your neck, and then she will take it up a few notches more. She is most certainly a world class vocalist.
***1. Courtney Swain – Bent Knee***
I don’t think there was a single moment in 2019 when I doubted that Courtney would be my favorite vocalist of the year. It started with her solo album (from which I took this image) and then launched into the stratosphere with her offering with Bent Knee. Courtney has one of the biggest powerhouse voices I have ever heard, but she also mixes in a bit of angst, quirk, and soul. She sounds like no one else, and she is certainly second to no one in 2019.
Nad is the bomb!