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23 December 2016updated 19 Aug 2021 4:37pm

The best albums of 2016: from David Bowie to Solange

As the end of the year approaches, Kate Mossman rounds up the best new releases.

By Kate Mossman


A Seat at the Table (Columbia)

Extensive psych-soul feast from Beyoncé’s cooler, stranger sister. Her first album since 2008.

Video: “Cranes in the Sky” by Solange.

Laura Mvula

The Dreaming Room (RCA)

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Wondrous arranger-singer-producer-choirmistress continues to tweak the nose of conventional song structure.

Christine and the Queens

Chaleur humaine (Because Music)

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Cerebral pop from the moonwalking, suit-wearing Frenchwoman.

Video: “Tilted” by Christine and the Queens

The Lemon Twigs

Do Hollywood (4AD)

The twigs are two prog-pop geniuses from Long Island aged 17 and 19. Their sumptuous debut sounds like 1973.

The Rolling Stones

Blue & Lonesome (Polydor)

Who’d have thought that an album of old blues standards from the Stones would be so exciting? Not us.

David Bowie

Blackstar (Columbia)

Dark, spartan and beautifully economical, the Dame’s last tunes were haunting even before we knew what he was trying to say.

Donny McCaslin

Beyond Now (Motema)

The esteemed New York jazz band who played on Blackstar wrote this album about their experience. Mark Guiliana is the world’s best drummer.


Hopelessness (Rough Trade)

Cheerily titled, socially conscious pop bangers from the figure who was formerly Antony of the Johnsons.

Alicia Keys

Here (RCA)

Icy cool neo-soul tunes from this year’s comeback queen. Shades of Neneh Cherry and Erykah Badu.

Various artists

The Hamilton Mixtape (Atlantic)

Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys, K’naan and more re-record the soundtrack of Lin Miranda’s world-beating musical.

Video: The Hamilton cast perform at the White House

This article appears in the 13 Dec 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year special 2016