Namely, pop music that doesn’t suck.

Nikki Edgar, née Nikki Leoni who released a few contemporary Christian albums back in the day, has just put out her first solo album in quite some time and first under her married name. Heartache Easy is … well, it’s so good it’s almost ridiculous.

Presently, pop music is marked by two characteristics. One, it uniformly dominates airplay, sales, and concert draws. Two, it’s uniform Cheez Whiz cookie cutter recipe drek, soulless machine-made aural junk food with layers of autotuned pseudo-singing atop even more layers of virtual instruments glued to drum machine blips. No heart. No depth. No human interaction. Rather like political Twitter. But I digress.

Into this teenage wasteland comes Edgar with seven songs worth of — brace yourself — real, live music. Let’s start with her voice. Edgar sings with synchronized heart and skill, serious joy that’s both confident and confessional. She grabs you by the heartstrings and holds on tight without ever squeezing the life out of you via excessive vocal gymnastics. Once heard, for all the right reasons Edgar’s singing is never forgotten.

Next up, the songs. Memorable and comfortable without being regurgitated rehashes of everything else presently out there, they are presented with understated human musical interaction. No drum machines. No synthesizer loops. Instead, they are appropriately sparse without affected ‘oh look how cool and stripped down we are’ pretentious annoyance. They provide the perfect backdrop for Edgar’s powerhouse singing.

Lyrically the album focuses on relationships, be it the overcoming spunk of “I’ve Learned” or the heart-rendering asunder power of the title track. Edgar and company know how to be real without falling into the bottomless pit of excessive emotion.

Heartache Easy is superb. It’s sublime. It’s every other superlative you can throw its way. Yes, it is really that good. If you’ve written off the radio and wearily resigned yourself to there being little if any new music worthy of so much as a passing listen, let alone purchase, rescind your resignation and buy this album. Now. Your life will be the better for it. No exaggeration.

The album is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.

There are many things to be thankful for in America. If you’re reading this, you’re alive… let’s not forget the big things. We don’t have Hillary Clinton in the White House. Stranger Things 2 was really good. Neil Gorsuch. Longmire finally released its final season. I could go on about all the blessings I’ve received, but I want to turn your attention to a heartwarming story in Philadelphia.

Last month, Kate McClure found herself stranded, out of gas, in a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia. She was approached by a shadowy, disheveled figure late at night as she walked to the gas station. He stopped her and told her to go back to her car. Lock the door, he said. He’s got this covered.

With his last $20, homeless veteran Johnny Bobbit Jr. got gas and brought it back to McClure. She made it to her destination safely. She and her boyfriend returned to thank Bobbit with food and clothes, but they felt they needed to do more. They set up a GoFundMe page and hoped to get $10,000 for two-months rent and possibly some transportation.

Donations are so high – nearly a quarter of a million dollars as of the posting of this article – that he has asked her to stop accepting donations and to use the exposure they’re getting to ask people to find other worthy causes.

As we eat our turkey, watch our football (which I won’t be doing – I’m one of those pesky NFL boycotters), and spend time with friends and family, it’s good to know there are people out there helping their fellow man.

For Thanksgiving I thought it would be a good idea to do a few interviews with people on what they were thankful for. I was given this chance at our Thanksgiving party at work asking those attending if they would care to answer the question “What are you thankful for?” on camera. Three people took me up on it. The first person was Hisham who came to the US from Iraq and gave his answer in Arabic

Hisham’s answer was echoed by Kenny from Brooklyn

What I found interesting is that both Hisham coming from thousands of miles away and Kenny coming a place as American as you can get gave answers that for most of American History would have been a quite unremarkable, Yet in our current cultural climate they very much stand out.

Finally I spoke to Hannah whose answer to this question really speaks to what this American Holiday is.

In an age where privileged college students complain about “microaggressions” and girl scouts are warned against hugging people at Thanksgiving dinner Hannah’s answer reminds us how lucky we are to live in a country where both freedom and safety are things that are so common that we tend to take them for granted.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of yours.