These are the best Alberta albums of 2019, according to the Key of A

It's the Key of A's annual best of the year edition, where we share our top picks from the albums released by artists from Alberta in 2019.

Born, bred, or based in Alberta, that is. Some of them now make their homes in other places. But wherever they live now, they all share a deep connection to this part of the world. 

Evan Freeman lives in Calgary. He makes shimmery, dreamy music. He released his latest album, Beyond the Stars, on the first of December. But he says he's been working on this music for years. His estimate — more than 3,000 hours. All that work, has paid off — I think it sounds gorgeous.

Rae Spoon grew up in Calgary and now lives on the West Coast. A transgender artist, Rae uses the pronoun "they." This year, they delved into the psyche with an album called Mental Health. It's been finding its way onto a number of Best of the Year lists, including ours.

I've been a fan of the Calgary band 36? for a few years now. Frontman Taylor Cochrane dreams up quirky, fluid, trippy music that may be hard to describe. But it's definitely finding an audience. The new album is called Milk Mountain.

Toronto-based singer-songwriter and drummer Charlotte Cornfield spent her school years in Edmonton. Her 2019 album The Shape of Your Name got a rave review in the U.S. online music magazine Pitchfork. The Key of A likes it, too!

Calgary's Reuben and the Dark got a surprise endorsement this month from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called them one of his favourite bands of all time. He's not alone. This year, Reuben and the Dark played to packed houses at festivals and soft seat theatres. Plus they released a terrific album on Arts and Crafts called Un/Love.

Celeigh Cardinal, a Métis musician from Alberta's Peace Country who now lives in Edmonton, makes the list for her 2019 album Songs from a Downtown Apartment, which shines the spotlight on her big, fabulous voice.

Leeroy Stagger runs a recording studio in Lethbridge when he's not on tour. This year, he and his band hit the road in support of his latest, Strange Path. It may be a strange one, but it's a path that's definitely taking him places.

Edmonton's Nuela Charles had a banner year, playing major festivals, releasing singles as well as a terrific album called Melt. Strength to strength. Can't wait to see where she goes next.

Nehiyawak is an Indigenous trio from amiskwaciy on Treaty 6 territory — also known as Edmonton — teaching the rest of us how to speak Cree, one word at a time. The band's name refers to Cree people; the album title Nipiy is all about water. Rivers are beautiful, they're also political. So is Nehiyawak's music.

Tegan and Sara referenced their high school years in Calgary on their latest release, Hey! I'm Just Like You. They took the lyrics they wrote in high school and turned them into mature, aware songs that still channel the urgency of youth. 

  • Share your favourite music released by artists born, bred or based in Alberta in 2019 in the comments section below.

The Key of A best of 2019 episode airs on Dec. 28 from 5 to 6 p.m. on CBC Radio 1, where it can be heard every week.