Sometimes, I want nothing more in the world than to sit down with one of my nearest and dearest and say, “Play me something that speaks to your soul.” For me, music isn’t just something I listen to in order to pass the time: it’s a linchpin of my very existence, something that makes the world more bearable and my inner life infinitely richer. The albums I love most are not just collections of songs: they are milestones by which I can map the trajectory of my life. Each one comes with its own set of memories and associations, unbreakable connections to people and places and times that render them an integral part of my identity. With that in mind, I decided to collate a list of my favourite albums in order to examine what makes them my favourites. It was an enlightening exercise in that it revealed hitherto unrealised truths about myself. I am not concerned with sales or critical reviews or even general popularity. The only yardstick I am using is what these albums mean to me. And so, without further ado, let’s embark on a musical odyssey through the albums that have impacted me the most.
Come On Over, Shania Twain
This was the first album I ever owned, and subsequently the first one I learned the words to off by heart. It strikes me now as an unusually sophisticated first album for an eight-year-old girl. While I would go on to own all the usual nineties girlie pop albums in the form of the Spice Girls and B*Witched, my first and most enduring love has always been Shania Twain. I would say she’s a guilty pleasure but I’m not remotely embarrassed.
I’d go so far as to say that this album was something of a romantic awakening for me. It certainly developed my awareness of the concept far more than Disney ever did. There was even a time many years ago when I wanted From This Moment as my wedding dance, until I realised just how popular a choice it is.
The songs on this album are pure nineties nostalgia to me. I listen to them and I can picture myself sitting cross-legged on the floor of my first bedroom with its blue curtains and terracotta carpet. They conjure up images of the swing in the back garden and the rockery beyond it, and the grounds of Moreton School beyond that. That Don’t Impress Me Much will forever remind me of summer holidays in Rhyl-of…