Mike Lidskin’s artist of the year “Tamar Berk”

For many years, I did year-end lists, and an accompanying awards show on my former radio station, here in Sacramento. But as I migrated over here to Woody Radio full time, I thought I’d end that practice. It’s so hard to decide on just one “number one”, when I’ve been given 30+ hours a month to present to you some of the finest recorded music available.

But then Gidget said something completely compelling to our community of Woody Radio DJ’s: “I need to know the one artist that got you through 2021”. If she’d have framed it any other way, I probably wouldn’t or couldn’t come up with an answer. There are so many stellar musicians and bands who rocked my world this past year, and I’m a little bit gunshy about ranking them. But being asked to pick the one artist that GOT ME THROUGH 2021? That’s the kind of question that you can only answer by going with the first one that comes to mind, because that’s the correct answer. To put it another way, name an artist who would leave a gaping hole if their music wasn’t there for you. So you go with your gut, because again, it’s the correct answer. And the correct answer for 2021 is Tamar Berk.

Nearly a year ago, Tamar reached out to me in the most quaint, old-fashioned way–via Twitter! That caught my attention, and she sent me a couple of excellent tracks in advance of her album, The Restless Dreams of Youth. Once the album came out, I was hooked. It’s glorious. Singing, songwriting, performance, this album has it all. It’s full of hard-earned wisdom, and it both rocks and gets moody at times. Here’s what I said about it when I interviewed her back in March of 2021:

It immediately resonated with me. Really well written songs. She’s incapable of writing a bad one. Her vocals are deep and rich, and at times, soaring. She’s that rare singer whose vocals completely set the tone and mood of the song. And these songs range from moody and introspective, to gloriously rocking, upbeat, and cathartic. Melodies that stay with you, long after you’re done listening, and the only cure is to listen again. She assembled a great band to help realize her vision–a record that reexamines the past, through the lens of these times. Overall, her sound is somewhere between the best parts of Exile In Guyville-era Liz Phair, and Aimee Mann. Not a bad place to be. You’re going to need this record.

Here we are in January of 2022, and I still agree with myself, especially with that last part: “You’re going to need this record.”

All that said, Tamar has been a joy to know. It feels like 2021 has been the year where she’s really gotten the attention she and her music deserves. Here’s my blog post from last year, and you can listen to our interview, by clicking on the player on the page. And congratulations to my 2021 Artist of the Year, Tamar Berk!


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