With more music available more easily than ever before, listeners were sure to overlook plenty of strong albums in 2017. (Just ask Hey Violet.) Here are three to consider.
Syd, “Fin” (Columbia)
As part of the Internet, the Los Angeles-based R&B group that began as an offshoot of Odd Future, this breathy-voiced singer and producer stepped into the spotlight in 2015 with the album “Ego Death,” which earned a Grammy nomination and led to prominent placements on the soundtrack of HBO’s “Insecure.” Syd’s first major-label solo disc drew significantly less shine — but it’s almost as impressive in its understated sensuality and its deep understanding of recent soul-music innovations.
Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (Legacy)
The country veteran may have only himself to blame if this moving 2017 album didn’t bend the ears it should have: “God’s Problem Child” is just one of about a dozen records Nelson has put out in the last decade — not exactly a strong advertisement to tune in before the guy runs out of steam. At 84, though, Nelson is finally thinking about the end in a way he never really has before; his rendition of “Old Timer” — about a bull rider who thinks he’s still young until he looks in the mirror — is startling in its vulnerability.
Rostam, “Half-Light” (Nonesuch)
After quitting Vampire Weekend in 2016, Rostam Batmanglij kept himself busy by producing for the likes of Solange, Haim and Frank Ocean — admirably eclectic work you can hear resounding on his first album as a solo act. “Half-Light” doesn’t feature the sharp melodic hooks Vampire Weekend is known for, which might be why it flew under the radar of many of that band’s fans. But its grooves and textures are their own reward, from the chugging beat that propels “Bike Dream” to the silvery glam-rock guitar in the title track.