Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part One Best of 2016

18. Gord Downie
Secret Path
(Arts & Crafts)
When the Tragically Hip bid farewell in Kingston, ON, this past summer, Gord Downie took a short moment during the nationally televised concert to call on Justin Trudeau to press forward in reconciliation efforts with the country's First Nations. With Secret Path, he dedicates an entire album (with illustrations by collaborator Jeff Lemire) to remembering the tragedy of Canada's residential school system. The result is a delicate, atmospheric and emotionally poignant soundtrack to the real-life story of a young boy's attempt to escape and return to his family.
With a powerful ability to capture the setting and feeling of his character, the record takes us through hope, fear, sadness and desperation on a heartbreaking journey with the purpose of acknowledging a dark history. Secret Path's thoughtful artistry and resonant message make it both a superbly crafted record and an incredibly important one that comes at a pivotal time for the future of Canada's relationship with its indigenous peoples.
Adam Feibel