Music, not War

In the same way the pandemeic influenced popular music in 2020 and 2021, I suspect the outrageous attack by Russia on Ukraine has made an impact on recent albums, not only directly, like Deutsche Grammofon’s lovely tribute to Ukrainean classical music, but also in a more subtle way. I seed to detect a more recilienct feel to a lot of music, through both reflection and defiance. Then again, normalcy is also a kind of recilience, giving the agressors the finger by going on with our lives unaffected. Whatever the inspiration, hopefully you’ll find new favourites and happy memories in the playlist I have concocted for you this month.

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Allegoria
Gaby Moreno

Sample Track: Sonar Otra Vez

Guatemalan born American singer Gaby Moreno has with her seventh album given us a smorgasbord of an album, so varied and surprising that it is almost impossible to pinpoint to any genre or style. Of course she is primarily influenced by South American music, new and old, but she also dives into a number of other genres on this fabolous collection of personal songs.

Asphalt Meadows
Death Cab for Cutie

Sample Track: Pepper

American band Death Cab for Cutie has been around for more than 25 years, long enough to have heavily influenced the indie music genre more than many other bands. Their new album sticks with the formula that has given them success before, maybe even more confident and polished than when they started. Highly enjoyable!

Déliryom
Wati Watia Zorey Band, Marjolaine Karlin & Rosemary Stendley

Sample Track: Panier Su La Tête, ni chanté

Rosemary Stendley is a recent new favourite vocalist of mine, the versatile singer who knows no musical boundaries and has released both classical, jazz and folk music for our enjoyment. On Déliryom she cooperates with Marjolaine Karlin to make something as peculiar as a an album based on the poetry of Reunionese poet Alain Péters. The album brings a much needed sense of constant surprise and freshness, even though I am unable to enjoy the lyrics that inspired it in the first place.

Fossora
Björk

Sample Track: Ovule

Few artists has made a more lasting first impression on me than Björk, I was thoroughly shooked and shocked by her insisting, sorrowful voice. Her first international album, Debut, is still among my all-time favourites (you’ll probably will be reacquainted with it in a future post…) But Björk has moved forward faster than I have, and it has for some time been difficult for me to follow her development into more and more (at least for me) inaccessible musical landscapes. Fossora is no different; still I can’t be anything but intrigued by her compositions, surprising rhythms and musical arrangements. I have made a daring pick of tracks for you, please listen with an open mind.

Garbage Island
The Burning Hell

Sample Track: Nigel the Gannet

You should expect something completely different from a band called The Burning Hell than what they are serving you. Garbage Island is a funny, perky album of songs about god knows what, sea birds and ska bands and beaches and ornithologists. Maybe you’ll love it, for who can hate songs starting with «They’ve all been making plans for Nigel, and by them I mean the ornithologists”, Nigel being a gannet…and it goes on from there, into looney land.

The Highest in the Land
The Jazz Butcher

Sample Track: Time

The Jazz Butcher is Pat Fish, a British poet and singer, who sadly died last year. The Highest in the Land, his last album, was recorded up to his death. He left a great colelction for us to enjoy, witty, absurd, but always interesting, both musically and lyrically. Fish made no apologies for his lifestyle nor his music, and was razor sharp one moment and hopelessly romantic the next moment. From such a mind comes great music. He sums it all in the brilliant track Time.

In Real Life
Mandy Moore

Sample Track: In Real Life

If you’re in a lean back mode, dig out Mandy Moore’s In Real Life. This is harmless pop from romcom actress Moore, without being bland and uninteresting. The songs are all well crafted and impeccably performed.

Music for Ukraine
Daniel Hope, Alexey Botvinov, Jan Freidlin, Mayroslav Skoryk & Valentin Silvestrov

Sample Track: Melody

I expect all compositions on the Music for Ukraine were made long before Putin’s cowardly attack on the country in February, still with the war as a backdrop, the music makes the skin cringe, reflecting a beautiful land and a recilient people. It is a bit sad that it would take a war to bring this beauty of an album to us, but now that it is here for us all to listen to, enjoy it and let it inspire us to never forget and never stop supporting Ukraine.

Refugees
Jimmy Cliff

Sample Track: Punus

78-year old reggae idol Jimmy Cliff is back with what you might call a modern reggae album, but safely secured within the genre. Cliff continues to give us music inspired by social consciousness, still simple and accessible, sometimes even a bit naive and too simplistic for my taste.

SAL
Salvador Sobral

Sample Track: Estrada Dividia

Salvador Sobral could possibly have been one of the world’s most famous crooners by now, following his astounding win in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with Amar Pelois Dois, if he had started just to record in English, with the powerful international music industry building him up. Instead, he has refused to follow that route, and has continued to record in Portuguese and consistently followed his musical heart. Now he has released an EP of ballads with his own piano playing as the only accompaniment. The music is so beautiful it hurts. I experenced Sobral in concert two years ago, and it still stands as one of the greatest concert experiences of my life. We were 1500 people present. We haven’t told another soul.

Seventeen
TORA

Sample Track: Call It a Trend

Female solo guitarist Tora Dahle Aagård’s band TORA is out with a new jazz/blues/pop/funk album. Tora is not only a great guitarist, but also a sensitive vocalist, and she puts a mark on all these tracks. Without that mark this may have been too much of what we have heard before on similar albums by similar bands. But Tora has added the necessary ingredient to make it palpable: herself.

Spanish Villager No 3.
Ondara

Sample Track: A Drowning in Mexico City

Kenyan born Ondara reminds me so much of folk singers like Dan Fogelberg and Gordon Lightfoot, with his highly emotional voice. Ondara’s music could easily have fit in with their catalogues as well. Spanish Villager No 3., is a kind of concept album, a travel from city to city all around the world, while sticking to a similar musical formula throughout.

Titanic
Mimmi

Sample Track: Where Have You Been

I think all releases by Norwegian artist Mimmi (last name Tamba) has been impressive and enjoyable. I wish many more would discover this amazing singer. Perhaps with this album, there seems to be some kind of breakthough, a greater number of reviews, most very positive. Like mine, here. There is so much talent, such versatility both in performance and composing.

Truth
Alexis Ffrench

Sample Track: Colours

Pianist and composer Alexis Ffrench is something so rare as a soul and classical musician. His cross-over music obviously appeals to both classical connoiseurs and lovers of contempoary romantic piano music.

2 Be Loved – Lizzo

Black Obsidian – Caitlin Rose

Delighted – Benjamin Clementine

Fais Gaffe! – Fleur

For What It’s Worth – Stevie Nicks

Kindred – Josephine Onitama

My Suitcase and Me – Anneli Drecker & Ketil Bjørnstad

MZUNGU (hvit mann) – Sondrey

A New Life – Amy Stroup

Nobody’s Sweetheart – Caitlin Rose

Nothingness – Woodheads

Pieces – Yazmin Lacey

Pusterom – Agnete Saba

Really Wanting You – Stephen Bishop

Você e Eu (You and I) – Eliane Elias

Who’s Gonna Love Me Now – MIKA

Frank
Squeeze

Sample Track: Melody Motel

Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook are Squeeze. Well, many others, including Jools Holland could proudly call themselves band members, but most of the irreverent, fun, catchy music came from the duo. This is music to wake up to and stay awake with, rarely dance music, but just music that gets me going on the dreariest of days. Frank from 1989 wasn’t their biggest hit, in fact, the record company kicked them out after the release, but I love every track, and has made the difficult choices – if you like what you hear, listen to the whole album, in fact listen to everyting else these two boys and their play friends released.

Talking Book
Stevie Wonder

Sample Track: Superstition

Multi-talented artist Stevie Wonder had a great year in 1973, 50 years ago. He first released the album Music of My Mind and soon after Talking Book. This is not so much a classic album as it is an album with lots of songs that have become classic, like You Are the Sunshine of My Life and Superstition. Single releases kept the album popular for more than a year. Stevie Wonder had discovered the synthesizer, using it as a second voice on tracks like Superstition.

Female Domination

Is it a coincidence, or is it a fact that female artists produce considerably more interesting music these days? Part of it could be me, I admit, if pushed I tend to prefer female voices to male voices. But I don’t think it is down to personal preference; women seem to excel in many musical genres, they are bolder, freer and less likely to follow the pied pipers. Not that I don´t have male artists in this month’s list; Tom Chaplin, Benjamin Clementine, Metteson and Michael Head are out with excellent new music, and my classic album of the month includes the very, very, very deep voice of Lee Hazlewood. And – 50 years ago David Ziggy Stardust Bowie crept up the charts. So there’s some kind of balance there. Still,at least for this entry, women rule….

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Beatopia
beabadoobee

Sample Track: The Perfect Pair

Bea Kristi just turned 23 years old. On her second album she has har glaze backwards, to the pop music even before her birth. This is easy, accessable pop, performed with a voice imitating (?) innocence and vulnerability. Beatopia was Bea’s secret kingdom when she was little and had to move from the US to London.

Dear Scott
Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band

Sample Track: American Kid

Michael Head has been around a bit longer than Bea Kristi. He debuted in 1981, and although he never reached superfame, he has always been there, either as a solo artist or with his bands Shack and The Pale Fountains. Dear Scott has the assurance that only an artist who don’t have to mark his territory any more can produce. This is mature rockn’roll and pop.

five seconds flat
Lizzy McAlpine

Sample Track: Firearm

Back to the Tiktok generation and young Lizzy McAlpine, out with her second album and her first step into musical maturity. Because McAlpine is more than silly dance videos, she knows how to play with words and dress them perfectly in music tailorfit to describing her sometimes ironic and oh-so-personal stories about young love life.

If You Will
Flora Purim & Diana Purim

Sample Track: Newspaper Girl

The Queen of Brazilian Jazz is back, 80 years old, with a inspired new album together with her daughter Diana. She was 65 when she last released a new album, so If you will is truly an occasion. If you like Brazilian-infused jazz, this album is «gefundenes fressen», if you’re new to the rhythms of South America, you may be in for a treat.

Kingmaker
Tami Neilson

Sample Track: King of Country Music

On to one of this months most interesting and impressive albums, from New Zealand’s diva Tami Neilson. Kingmaker is a mixture of sultry ballads and roots-inspired tracks, at times drifting into country music like our classic artists of the month, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood perfected. I have listened to this album all month and haven’t tired yet.

RENAISSANCE
Beyoncé

Sample Track: Plastic Off the Sofa

I guess superdiva Beyoncé’s new album is best listened to on the dance floor, bursting as it is with energy, sensuality and musicality. As I mostly stay off the dance floors of the world these days, I still enjoy the richness and creativity of RENAISSANCE from my easy chair.

The Sea Drift
The Delines

Sample Track: Little Earl

I don’t know if country soul is a musical genre, but if it is, The Delines, is defintely among the better representatives. The relaxed but impressionable voice of Amy Boone carries the short stories from main songwriter Willy Vlautin so well. The sound of The Delines makes me feel that everything is well with the world, although the lyrics sometimes tell me otherwise.

Songbird (A Solo Collection)
Christine McVie

Sample Track: The Challenge

Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac superfame released an album with Lindsay Buckingham last year that was among the musical hightlights of the year. Her retrospective new album offers only two new songs, the rest is new recordings of her solo releases. That doesn’t make Songbird any worse.

Surrender
Maggie Rogers

Sample Track: Horses

Surrender from Maggie Rogers is full of zest and energy. She doesn’t look inwards, she belches out both in lyrics and in vocal performance. This is only her second album, but the deserved attention she gets indicates this is an artist who will stay in the limelight for a long time.

Two
Dubstar

Sample Track: Lighthouse

Although I am impressed with Maggie Rogers, Dubstar and front woman Sarah Blackwood appeal even more to the heart. Yes, it is a bit 90s retro – not that I miss that decade so much – but it is the non stop good feeling that their music creates, hummable, with a constant Britpop beat to keep you going.

The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical
Barlow & Bear

Sample Track: Balancing the Scales

Few have missed the controversy surrounding Barlow & Bear’s so-called unofficial musical based on the Netflix series Bridgerton. It started out as a kind of David & Goliath moment, with Goliath viewing David as innocent and harmless. But when Barlow & Bear took the concept out of TikTok and out in the real world. Netflix was not amused anymore. Although the music sounds a bit like a parady on a contemporary musical – and perhaps was meant to be just that, I can’t but be impressed with the quality of the project.

Lots of interesting releases this month, both A-sides and B-sides of singles please the outer and inner ear. I have added new music from Billie Eilish, Benjamin Clementine, Manhattan Transfer, Röyksopp, Tom Chaplin and Chaka Kahn, among others. But listen to them all, they’re all in the list for a good reason.

The 30th – Billie Eilish

California – Bonny Light Horseman

Copening – Benjamin Clementine

Exile – Bonny Light Horseman

God Only Knows – Manhattan Transfer & WDR Funchausorchester

Gravitational – Tom Chaplin

If I Was The Captain Of This Ship – Madrugada

If You Want Me – Röyksopp & Susanne Sundfør

Ikke tro jeg vil glemme – Eigil Berg

Maybe I’m Amazed – stories & Tema Siegel

Moon River – stories & Emily Bear

Never Let Me Go – Metteson

Nick of Time – Lake Street Dive

Rip Tide – Thea & The Wild

Silence – Ariza & Abigail Barlow

Song To The Siren – Loah

Stay Love – Neon Ion

TV – Billie Eilish

Vibe – The Editors

Weakend – Benjamin Clementine

Woman Like Me – Chaka Khan

Nancy & Lee
Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood

Sample Track: Elusive Dreams

This a strange partnership, which for me brings back many childhood memories. My older brothers didn’t own many albums; in the sixties singles rocked; but the Nancy & Lee LP was on the turntable constantly. I got used to hearing the two unlikely voices singing together, with a full-blown orchestra in the background and a sound that never came back after the sixties. Revisiting this universe now, almost sixty years later, was a great thrill.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Startdust David Bowie

Can you believe it is 50 years ago? David Bowie didn’t only record this album, he created a complete alter ego in Ziggy Stardust, and we all bought into it. It was so different and wild and out-of-this-world that it started a life-long relationship with Bowie, even when he turned into himself again. The album is among the best glam rock albums ever, so much better than what came from his arch rival T. Rex. And while Marc Bolan’s career ebbed out, Bowie’s never stopped growing. Finally, a fun fact. The cover photo was taken in a side street of Regent’s Street in London. For a while in the 1990s when I was producing a children’s series there, I had a desk in the building next door, looking down at the iconic corner, and not knowing until much later how iconic it actually was.

The Eternal Beatles/Stones Dispute

Mostly I introduce you to new and old music that I highly recommend. But – with the introduction of my new column «50 Years Ago» , presenting number one albums from 1972 , there’s bound to be albums I’m not particularly fond of (like last month’s Deep Purple album). With Exile on Main Street, the Rolling Stones album that made number one for weeks 50 years ago, we’re unfortunately at it again. I have this to say: Even though I have seen Stones live and really enjoyed it, I can’t phantom how it is possible to rate the Stones higher than Beatles, like some would.

But don’t take my word for it. A perhaps surprising voice in favour of The Beatles is Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead: The Rolling Stones were the mummys boys they were all college students from the outskirts of London. They went to starve in London, but it was by choice, to give themselves some sort of aura of disrespectability. I did like the Stones, but they were never anywhere near the Beatles not for humour, not for originality, not for songs, not for presentation. All they had was Mick Jagger dancing about. Fair enough, the Stones made great records, but they were always shit on stage, whereas the Beatles were the gear.”

Well, enough said… I have picked a few decent songs from the 50 year old album, and more importantly, I have found some absolute gems from recent releases, so be prepared to be pleased.

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviewed from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones

Sample Track: Shine a Light

Dance Fever – Florence + The Machine

Sample Track: Morning Elvis

With her fifth album, Florence Welch returns doing musically more or less the same as what made her a star, but with lyrics that are tougher and maybe more introvert than before. Her strong and powerful voice is still the main attraction, though, together with symphonic arrangements, again and again lifting us from near silence to crescendos.

ELVIS – Kacey Musgraves, Måneskin, Stevie Nicks, Chris Isaak, Austin Butler, Shonka Dukureh, Elvis Presley, Les Greene & Jazmine Sullivan

Sample Track: Trouble

I still haven’t watched the movie Elvis, but understand it is another great biographical movie about one of popular music’s greatest icons. The soundtrack album offers some interesting cover songs, and Austin Butler performs convincingly like Elvis himself. However, some of the remixes of Elvis’ own songs are absolutely outrageously horrible, with heavy beats that are killing one song after another, adding very little, taking away why these songs were great in the first place. As you can imagine, these particular songs are not in my playlist.

A Gathering of Friends – John Willians, Yo-Yo Ma & New York Philharmonic

Sample Track: Without Malice Towards None (from Lincoln)

Few contemporary composers have created more memorable pieces than film composer John Williams. In light of that, I was a bit surprised that so few of his most enduring pieces were not included in this collection. Well, there are still some absolutely beautiful compositions included. Master cellist Yo-Yo Ma interprets the music of Williams in a way that draws you into whatever mood Williams has set for each piece. Lovely and accessible classical music.

Harbor Street – Cris Williamson

Sample Track: Marian and Albert

Singer/songwriter Cris Williamson is, like so many other artists born in the 1940s and early 50s, still going strong and producing some of their best work late in life. Harbor Street reminds me a bit of last year’s excellent album from Peggy Seeger, First Farewell. This is an album performed with self-confidence, with an artist who has got nothing more to prove.

Home, Before and After – Regina Spektor

Sample Track: Coin

I have followed Russian-American singer/songwriter Regina Spektor for years. I like her pianobased pop music, a kind of a well-behaved Kate Bush, writing not-so-intimate stories with her songs. On her new album, she experiments a lot, pushing the verse-chorus-bridge-chorus formula in interesting ways.

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing – Nerina Pallot

Sample Track: Master Builder

Another interesting piano-based singer/songwriter is Nerina Pallot. She reminds me quite a bit of Regina Spektor, so if you like one, you most likely like both (and the opposite is true, too, I guess) There are major differences between the two, though: Pallot definitely puts herself and her personal life into the equation; and she is less dependent upon the piano when composing and performing. And she’s British.

Last Night in the Bittersweet – Paolo Nutini

Sample Track: Children of the Stars

Scottish singer Paolo Nutini was among UKs most popular male artists, and suddenly, in 2016, he stopped recording, and did not release more music until this year, when Last Night in the Bittersweet was released. The new album was definitely worth the wait, both critics and audiences seem to agree. And I agree. Nutini is hard to pin down, his range is rare, from rock to pop to soul, and his voice can handle anything.

Life is Yours – Foals

Sample Track: 2am

Over to happy, guitar-based rock’n’roll. Foals is the sound of summer, a bit Oasis but definitely with their own sound, rough at times, mellow at others. The tunes are catchy – maybe two or three too many, but that’s what you’ve got me for: finding the best tracks.

Love, Shelby – Shelby Lynne

Sample Track: Wall In Your Heart

It comes as no surprise to those who have followed my blog over the years that I have a weak spot for country artist Shelby Lynne. Her latest album of spirituals was nothing but brilliant. and now she’s back with an album of originals again. Some critics were very disappointed; I was not one of them. Her wonderful alto voice, the happy beats, the great songwriting is (mostly) there. My weak spot hasn’t been weakened.

Pulling Back the Night – Sundowners

Sample Track: They Sing At Night

Sundowners take me back to harmony groups of the 60s, Peter, Paul & Mary, Mamas & The Papas, The Seekers, but still in new wrapping. There is also a bit of First Aid Kit in the sound of this album. It all sounds sweet and warm, but I miss a bit of fun, that’s all. Still, there are some memorable tracks on the album, so I keep listening.

Rachel@Fairyland – Rae Morris

Sample Track: Go Dancing

Rae Morris is one of the most talented singer/songwriters I have come across for a long time. Yes, it is sweet and maybe not so challenging, but her music is creative, quirky and different. The world that she is creating with her lyrics and smart melodies, is a world I would like to be invited in to. For one reason or another Morris hasn’t captured the zeitgeist; her new album has fared worse than her previous releases. I do hope that will change. Listen and see if you agree.

Sound of the Morning – Katy J Pearson

Sample Track: Willow’s Song

The first thing you notice when listening to Katy J Pearson is her somewhat piercing voice. Do I like it or does it bother me? Next, she never stays in one place musically: you think you’re listening to indie pop, then there is the typical Top 40 material, then back to experimental and oh-so-strange. It is interesting, absolutely, and I do like much of it. But does it bother me a bit, too?

Vanishing Act – Benny Bock

Sample Track: Little Hill

The next album might bother some of you. Benny Bock is the man behind the pop phenomenon Weeknd. His solo album Vanishing Act is about as far away from Weeknd as you can come. These tracks are jazzy soundscapes, interesting, at times beautiful, thought provoking, but to me always agreeable to listen to. Give it a try.

What’s It Gonna Take? – Van Morrison

Sample Track: What’s It Gonna Take?

An «interesting» album to end this month’s album reviews: Van Morrison is out with his 43rd (!) studio album, and if you shut your ears to his lyrics, you’d probably say this is great rhythm’n’blues in old-fashioned Van Morrison style. But Van the Man is angry, and he doesn’t like much of what’s going on these days, he doesn’t believe in vaccines, and rants on like, as one reviewer put, like a drunk redneck uncle. Still I listen to him; I can take it, I don’t have to like his opinions, but I like his music. Sometimes it is OK to listen to someone outside your echo chamber.

There’s some very interesting singles releases as well this month. You’ll find links to them below. Kenyan Ondara, Greek-Norwegian Amanda Tenfjord with her distinct voice, a new welcome realease from Swedish duo First Aid Kit, an «entertaining» new single from 79-year old Barry Manilow, an amazing new track from cross-over singer Rosemary Standley, two lovely tracks from Norwegian vocalists Mimmi and AURORA, a great pop track from Tom Grennon. Among others. Enjoy!

An Alien in Minneapolis – Ondara

All In – Amanda Tenfjord

Angel – First Aid Kit

Blue is Just a Colour – Georgia Cécile

Dancin’ in the Isles – Barry Manilow

Exactly What I Needed – Michael Rault

Fall in Love With a Girl – Cavetown & Orla  Gartland

Isis und Osiris – Birds on a Wire, Rosemary Standley & Dom La Nena

Melocoton (The Donka Donk Song) – Subwoolfer

A Potion for Love – AURORA

Remind Me – Tom Grennan

Sonny The Strong – Gaz Coombes

Tonight – Mimmi

Yours – Conan Gray

A Perfect Match – The Real Thing & Bohuslän Big Band

Sample Track: Scratch My Back

I was lucky enough to work with Swedish-Norwegian jazz band, The Real Thing, in the 1990s, when they were the house band in a live TV series I produced. I just fell in love with their sound, a perfect mix of Paul Vagnberg’s Hammond B3 organ, Sigurd Køhn’s sax and Steffan William-Olsson’s guitar. On A Perfect Match the music was further enhanced by one of Scandinavia’s most brilliant big band, Bohuslän. The record is now also a tribute to Sigurd Køhn, who tragically died in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.

Back again…

Sorry for the delay, readers and listeners. I am not going to bore you with excuses, only to say that it has been a busy few months. Hopefully, 100 new tracks will serve as some kind of redemption from my side.

50 years ago, in 1972, Deep Purple haunted the charts all over Europe, so let’s start with looking back. Funnily, many artists in today’s list seem to do just that, look back – some even have been active back then, from Van Morrison to Mick Jagger, but when listening to the playlist I promise you will be introduced to new, exciting younger artists as well. The classic album this month is from one of my favourite artists of all times, Harry Nilsson.

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviewed from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Machine Head
Deep Purple

Sample track: Smoke on the Water

Heavy Metal and Hard Rock were never really my thing, but I make exceptions, quite a few, actually. Machine Head from Deep Purple was never one of these. Still, who can not like Smoke on the Water, a song inspired by the fact that the studio they were supposed to work in burned to ground. They ended up in Grand Hotel in Montreux, one of the few albums recorded at that time outside of a proper studio. I consider Ian Gillian one of the greatest voices of all time, the first Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. He excels on Machine Head.

Most reviewers and rock music lovers would not share my sentiments about the album, nor did record buyers. If you haven’t listened to the album, please do and judge for yourself.

20 Years Dope Noir
Waldeck Sextet

Sample Track: Rough Landing

Klaus Waldeck is an interesting Austrian jazz and swing composer and artist, with music sounding like it came out of Las Vegas and nightclubs in Hollywood and not Vienna. He has released a number of EPs over the last two decades, and has now made a foot thumping collection of released and never-before-released tracks.

Avatars of Love
Sondre Lerche

Sample Track: Now She Sleeps Beside Me

You have been exposed to singles from this extraordinary album in previous blog posts, but here are six other tracks from a rare double album by one of today’s most talented songwriters, in my view. It is romantic, intelligent and incredibly beautiful, songs of love and longing, inspired by classic pop of yesteryear, produced with a sophistication and crispness of sound that I find – yes, extraordinary.

Bitte Små Ryk
Tina Dickow

Sample Track: Hjertestorm

You may know her as Tina Dico, but the Danish singer/songwriter used her real name when releasing her first native language album. No doubt we are dealing with a accomplished composer and singer; even those of you who wouldn’t get the lyrics may appreciate the soothing voice and the slick production.

Bortenfor
Maridalen

Sample Track: Der hvor vi ikke kunne gå

Another non-English release, but less worry: this is an instrumental album, performed in a small wooden church just outside of Oslo by the jazz trio Maridalen. This contemplative and evocative music should resonate with everyone who enjoys melodic and timeless jazz.

Cloë and the Next 20th Century
Father John Misty

Sample Track: Olvidado

Timelessness is a key word for Father John Misty’s surpising new album as well. Like Sondre Lerche, he has returned to the romanticism of film music and sophisticated, lush pop. Still, I get the feeling the good Father doesn’t fully embrace the music he is perforing; there is a certain irony both in the lyrics and the songwriting. That doesn’t devalue the album on litte bit.

Further Joy
The Regrettes

Sample Track: You’re So Fucking Pretty

You may kow The Regrettes as a rock band, even punk rock band, but they too have started to look back for inspiration. Further Joy is a pop album, tough and perky, with lots of great summery tracks. I really prefer this version of the band.

I Don’t Like You
Christian Alexander

Sample Track: Waste Her Time

There’s a wave of artists in this blog post inspired by music from the classic pop era (well, I guess in my blog in general), and young Christian Alexander is definetely among them. His hit song Waste Her Time ostensibly came about after Christian had listened to an interview with Paul McCartney. The influence of McCartney is hard to conceal, if he ever tried, throughout this album.

Silence
Noble & Eddie van der Meer

Sample Track: Moving On

The artist Noble is drawn like a cartoon character on the Silence album cover, and perhaps she is? It is hard to find out much about this slick and sweet pop album, except that Eddie van der Meer is a Dutch guitarist and producer who has produced and recorded the album. There are countless female vocalists that sounds like Noble, but there is something there in both the performance and the songwriting that makes Silence quite an enjoyable album, standing out from the pack.

Under the New Light
Maia Friedman

Sample Track: First To Love

Maia Friedman, who for a while was Coco’s vocalist, has released her first solo album. There’s a warmth and richness streaming from these songs, gliding, immensely beautiful vocals, almost cinematic soundscape.

Vatten
Laleh

Sample Track: Vatten

Iranian-Swedish Laleh is out with her ninth album, Vatten (Water). I have been a great fan of Laleh, she is an artist with a life-affirming attitude and purpose, and with a voice that wakes you up, so beautiful and emotive – and so insisting you just can’t ignore it. This album has water as theme, from tears to oceans.

Vilde Bye
Vilde Bye

Sample Track: Longing For You

I wrote about Noble (above) that countless vocalists sing like her. This is certainly not the case with 18-year old Vilde Bye from Tromsø, Norway. There might be a likeness to Billie Holiday, but that might be pushing it a bit. Not that it matters, Vilde Bye is her own, and the debut album of country rock is accomplished and well worth listening to. No doubt this is just the start of a musical career.

Wet Leg
Wet Leg

Sample Track: Wet Dream

One reviewer described the duo Wet Leg’s self-titled album «nothing but pure fun». Well, it is hard to disagree on the fun bit; it is truly envigorating to listen to this chirpy, irreverent album, dripping with sarcasm and fuck you-mentality. But it is also a look into a youth culture in which the irreverence might be a way to survive in a crumbling world. Or maybe it is just pure fun.

Where We Started
Thomas Rhett

Sample Track: Somebody Like Me

Not enough country music in your life? Welcome in, Thomas Rhett, America’s most popular country singer right now. His new album, Where We Started, demonstrates to an extent country music’s position now, with both pop and rock elements sneaking into traditional country. That makes country more palatable for me, but I appreciate not for everyone. Still, there is much to enjoy on this album, whether you are an afficionado or, like me, liking a bit of this and a bit of that. That’s Thomas Rhett for you.

Lots of evergreen artists refuse to lie down and continue to release new (or not so new music), some of it no more than interesting, but a lot of it enriching what’s on offer. So have listen to the 2022 version of Alanis Morissette, Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra (remixed), Van Morrison and Michael Bublé. As for new artists, like Nouel and Elephant, I hope the single release is the start of a long career.

Be Still My Heart – Club des Belugas & Lene Reibau

Cold Places – Nerina Pallot

Goodbye (She Quietly Says) – Frank Sinatra

Hold My Hand – Lady Gaga

Hometown – Elephant

Iconic Pizza Night – Nouel

It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown – Ben Folds

I’ve Been Lonely Too Long – Chris Price & The Explorers Club

Kjedelig – Lundevall

A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square – Michael Bublé

No Woman is an Island – Rae Morris

Over the Moon – Nataly Dawn

Pretending – Van Morrison

Si en el Fondo – Gaby Moreno

Simple Mistake – Baharie

Strange Game – Mick Jagger

Underwater – Boy George

Up the Mountain – Regina Spektor

You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette, Duomo & Kroma Strings

Son of Schmillson
Harry Nilsson

Sample Track: Take 54

Harry Nilsson had this bad joke, he called himself Nilsson Schmilsson, even released an album under that name (an absolutely brilliant one at that, with Without You on it). The year after, in 1972, the album Son of Schmilsson was released (I would argue equally brilliant), and later an album of versions of songs from the American songbook was called A little Schmilsson In the Night. His version of bad dad jokes I guess.

Beatles names Nilsson their favorite artist, it was something that they seemed to agree on. And John Lennon and Harry Nilsson did an album together, Pussycats, supposedly recorded during a drinking spree. So, yes, he was something, Nilsson, quite a character. But people tend to forget what an accomplished vocalist he was, even after drink and smoke ruined the voice. And what a brilliant songwriter he was. And he added a lot of fun to pop and rock music, which Son of Schmillson proves. So perhaps there is a line from Nilsson to Wet Leg: Don’t take this world too seriously? Perhaps my blog post has a theme?? That would be something.

Credit: Getty

Finally… a little bonus: Paul McCartney played a three-hour concert at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, hailed as one of the great concerts in pop music history. Judging from the set list I can only image how magical it must have been to be among the 100 000 there… So if you want to listen to the 36 songs he performed, here is a playlist of all original recordings. Not the same as being there, but as close as you get…

Second Time Around

For many artists the career never seems to be over. Music pours out of them even after a long break. In this month’s blog post there are quite a few good examples: Pink Floyd, Alanis Morissette, Tears for Fears, Beth Hart – and Coldplay (although some said they never left). It seems like most artists have a creative peak during their career, lucky for us the peak may last for a long time, and even when they are not peaking, the art they give us is more than satisfactory.

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Fog On The Tyne
Lindisfarne

Sample track: Meet Me On the Corner

It might be fair to say that Lindisfarne created folk rock, and their 1971 album Fog on the Tyne was definitely produced at the band’s creative peak. It went to number 1 in the spring of 1972 and became the 8th bestselling album of the year, 50 years ago. I never liked them much when I was a teenager, and thought that calling the lads «Beatles of the 70s» was an abhorrence. Today I can appreciate their sound a bit better and enjoyed relistening to this album from my youth. I hope you do, too.

Anaïs Mitchell
Anaïs Mitchell

Sample Track: Brooklyn Bridge

Mitchell has recorded her brand of folk rock since 2002. Last year she turned 40, and this self-titled album sure sounds mature and accomplished. She comes out of the Dylan/Cohen school of popular music, with lyrics that matter set to music that primarily accompanies.

Catch Me If You Can
Adekunle Gold

Sample Track: Mase Mi

Adekunle Gold may very well be Nigeria’s greatest artist at the moment, and with the release of Catch Me If You Can, he has spread world music with a Nigerian twist to a global audience. The music is easily accessible, with R&B as well as reggae beats intertwined with African contemporary music.

For evig
ARY

Sample Track: Hurt You

I have continuously added singles to the list from Norwegian electrionica artist ARY over the years; now her first true album is out, and she doesn’t disappoint. This is a varied and impressive collection. ARYs style is all her own and has been for many years, with a melancholy that is genuine and not a copy.

Ghost Song
Cécile McLorin Salvant

Sample Track: Until

Another artist that is truly her own is Cécile McLorin Salvant, to an extent that she probably scares some people away with her experimentation and friskiness, being absolutely impossible to pindown musically. Jazz? Pop? Folk? Who could say? This album cannot be listened to in the background, Salvant demands too much of her listener for that. But give this wonderful carnival of an album a chance, I promise it is worth it.

My World, My Love, Paris
OSKA

Sample Track: Starstruck

I wrote a few months ago that we ought to listen more to Austrian pop, it has certainly moved on – and OSKA is another living proof. This debut album is sweet and moving, with personal and impressive songwriting coming from such a young artist.

Something in the Making
Team Me

Sample Track: Just Another Sleepless Night

Last time Team Me issued an album, I said something a bit unfavourable about them at work – and was instantly told by everyone in the room how wrong I was . Team Me fans love what the band is doing, and with their new album, I will join in the chorus (but in all fairness, this is a considerably better album than the last one). The wonder choirlike harmonies, the richness of the sound, the brilliant songwriting all add up to a great listening experience.

Soul Letters
Ole Børud

Sample track: Thinking About It

Some artists stick to a formula that works. Ole Børud is one of them, a soul singer of international stature, performing as if the 2000s never happened. This is professional craftsmanship down to the minutest detail, and still with a lot of – yes – soul. What a performer!

Three Dimensions Deep
Amber Mark

Sample track: What It Is

Once in a while an artist emerges that refuses to stick to a formula. Amber Mark is one of them, perhaps that’s why she talks about more than one dimension in the album title. Her sound is truly contemporary R&B, but the range on «Three Dimensions Deep» is impressive and makes for a rare listening experience.

The Tipping Point
Tears For Fears

Sample Track: Long, Long, Long Time

Tears For Fears stayed away for 18 years. Suddenly a new album emerges, but it is not as if time has stood still. I was never a great fan of the duo back then, found the music a bit dull and cold, but have no problem admitting that the new Tears For Fears deserves a place in my playlist. This is mature and versatile pop music, self-confident and in my view the best they have ever released.

A Tribute To Led Zeppelin
Beth Hart

Sample track: Black Dog

Led Zeppelin was the ultimate rock band. In fact, 50 years ago, the band was denied performing in Singapore because of ther long hair. You don’t get to be more rock’n’roll than that. Their guitar riffs are recognized by young and old today, in fact, the opening of Stairway to Heaven is called the Forbidden Riff, because it is so overplayed. But Beth Hart, a rocker in the premium league herself, is not afraid of overplaying and has released a tribute album that is among the best ever as tribute albums go. Playing this album in the car may not be advisable if you have a tendency to headbanging and shoegazing.

A good bunch of surprises in this month’s single list, the biggest is possible Pink Floyd’s first release for decades. The cause couldn’t be a worthier one, and they have brought in Andriy Khlyvnyuk from Ukraine to perform with them.

Bitterweet – Georgia Cécile

Hey Hey Rise Up – Pink Floyd & Andriy Khlyvnyuk

I’m a Mess – Phosphorescent

Language of Love – Karen Souza

Let Somebody Go – Coldplay & Celena Gomez

Make Your Mark – Seth Lakeman

My Love – Florence + The Machine

Nobody’s Wrong – Gaby Moreno

Olive Branch – Alanis Morissette

Second Hand Love – Julie Bergan & Ruben

Tomorrow – John Legend, Nas & Florian Picasso

Finally, it is time for the annual pick of the best ESC songs of 2022. I know some of you hate it, especially since I am sure you actually find songs in there that you actually like, but the secret is safe with me. I have picked my 10 personal favourites, plus Ukraine’s contribution, that probably will win. Remember I haven’t seen most of the performances, so the songs are picked after listening.

SWITZERLAND : Boys Do Cry – Marius Bear

ITALY: Brividi  – Mahmood & BLANCO

GREECE: Die Together – Amanda Tenfjord

NORWAY: Give That Wolf A Banana – Subwoolfer

SWEDEN: Hold Me Closer – Cornelia Jakobs

MALTA: I Am What I Am – Emma Muscat

GERMANY: Rockstars – Malik Harris

ARMENIA: SNAP – Rosa Linn

UNITED KINGDOM: SPACE MAN – Sam Ryder

SAN MARINO: STRIPPER – Achille Lauro

UKRAINE: Stefania – KALUSH

Deceptive Bends
10cc

10cc was one of the strangest pop groups ever. They released some of the best remembered pop tunes of all time, like «I’m Not in Love» and «The Things We Do For Love», their playfulness and humour was a trademark for them, but their albums wasn’t properly pruned – including Deceptive Bends, lots of peculiar tracks mixed with brilliant songs. Still, I have picked the album more as an example of the brillance of the group. If you decide to listen to the whole album and not only my choice picks, you will understand what I mean.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Old Poets’ Society (some dead)

It is a particularly busy time for me, so this month you will have to do with a refreshed list and very little information about each album. Hopefully I will back in full force soon.

A lot of wonderful songwriters and troubadurs contribute to the list this time around, both from yesteryear, but also older artists with new releases. There are some just awesome tracks this month, both in the album and singles section. Let me leave it at that. Enjoy! Let’s go.

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Paul Simon
Paul Simon

Top 3 album on the charts in the UK from February 1972. I still consider it one of the best albums ever made. I had such a hard time cutting down tracks. But I shouldn’t have bothered.

Anette (Cannes Edition)
Sparks & Cast

Sample Track: Stepping Back In Time

The Boy Names If
Elvis Costello & The Imposters

Sample Track: Paint the Red Rose Blue

BRIGHTSIDE
The Lumineers

Sample Track: WHERE WE ARE

Chimes at Midnight
Madrugada

Sample Track: Dreams At Midnight

Encanto Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Sample Track: Colombia, Mi Encanto

Evige dager
deLillos

Sample Track: Det er havet som er størst

Fix Yourself, Not the World
The Wombats

Sample Track: Everyting I Love Is Going To Die

Flying Dream 1
Elbow

Sample Track: Six Words

Fragments
Bonobo

Sample Track: Shadows

The Gods We Can Touch
AURORA

Sample Track: Exist for Love

Mother
Highasakite

Sample Track: Can I come home

Nonante-Cinq
Angèle

Sample Track: Libre

Skin
Joy Crookes

Sample Track: When You Were Mine

Toy
David Bowie

Sample Track: You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving

Waysides
Bedouine

Sample Track: The Wave

Brighter Days – Emeli Sandé

Fallen Star – The Neighbourhood

High Street – Team Me

Maybe Today Maybe Tomorrow – Gaby Moreno

Mehram – Asfar Hussein & Arooj Aftab

Minnet av et hav – Laleh

Once – Andreas Ihlebæk

Show Me Who You Are – Mark Nevin

Softly – Amber Mark

So Sorry – Lola Young

This weeks laundry – Brinheim

Within You Without You – Birds on a Wire, Rosemary Standley & Dom La Lena

The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd

Forwards and Backwards

Most of the music introduced this month was released in 2021, but I am sure we’ll all cope perfectly well. 2021 was a great music year in many ways, as last year’s review of best albums hopefully proved.

I am adding one more feature in 2022: A listen back to this month in 1972. 50 years ago some of the best pop and rock music ever were released, and I will add tracks from the album that dominated the British Top 40 charts at that time, starting this month with T.Rex’s album «Electric Warrior».

Also, from this month you will THREE playlists available for your enjoyment!

Petter’s Long List will be a bit shorter, starting from December 2021. Tracks reviewed before this time will be available in a new playlist, Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

Electric Warrior
T.Rex

The album reached number 1 in the charts in 1971, already in January, and remained the most popular album of the year. In many ways the album also introduced glam rock to a wider audience. The single «Get it on» reached no. 1 as well.

Barn
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Sample track: Song of the Seasons

Believe it or not, this is Neil Young’s 41st studio album – and the first for a long time that has excited reviewers – including me. This album takes me back to the reasons why I liked Young’s music in the first place. The music is simple and basic, yet sophisticated in its own way. And it took me back to Harvest again… (Let’s hope you will find the album in my list, Neil Young has threatened to pull all his music from Spotify, if they don’t pull Joe Rogan’s content.)

The Bird Has Flown
Maria Solheim

Sample Track: The Bird Has Flown

Singer/songwriter Solheim is out with her 7th albumn in 20 years, showing off a matured artist, offering a wide range of music with the only truly coherent her careful and almost hesitant voice. She is in full control, though, and the sweet music is also sprinkled with a bit of sorrow and wisdom.

Coco
Coco

Sample Track: Over the Houses

The Californian trio Coco have released their debut album. I am normally not thrilled with dream pop, but even though the album certainly offers samples of that, it is surprisingly varied and interesting. Here is a lot of musical talent poured into ten songs, and I have picked five of them.

Downhill from Everywhere
Jackson Browne

Sample Track: A Song For Barcelona

I am way out over my due date, sings 72-year old Jackson Browne on his new album. I beg to differ. Perhaps because he has nothing else to prove, he lets his hair down and gives us (at times) equally great music as he did in the 1970s and 1980s.

An Evening With Silk Sonic
Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak

Sample Track: Leave The Door Open

Lots of soul and passion in this new album from Bruno Mars and his friends, first and foremost Anderson .Paak (god , these ridiculous artist names…). We are taken back to a time when R&B was mainstream, and then forward again to today when it is possible to create a perfect soundscape. Because this is pure aural silk.

From Dreams to Dust
The Felice Brothers

Sample Track: Celebrity X

There is a lot of Dylan in the Felice Brothers, a quartet from New York, with lyrics that you takes you on a mental ride, more poetry than song lyrics, and not always comprehensible, at least not to me. But I keep listening, can’t help being intrigued by their musical universe.

Isa
Zaz

Sample Track: De Couleurs Vives

I have been an avid fan of the French singer Zaz since her debut 12 years ago. There is sometinhg captivating in her whiskey voice that I never stop enjoying . Still, her new album has frustrated many fans, as she is taking off in another musical direction. I still follow where she is going. It may not be music to dance to anymore, much, if not all, of the ethnic layer is gone, but Zaz-MOR is also worth listening to.

Ma délire – Songs of Love, lost & found
Myriam Gendron

Sample track: Farewell

The Canadian folk singer Myriam Gendron has created an album of old North American folk songs and interpreted these her own way. Strength and fragility go hand in hand on the album. Ma délire serves as a source of mindfulness, but also forces one to listen. Farewell is an original composition by Gendron, but fits the rest of the songs perfectly.

New Costellations
Falkevik

Sample Track: Keep the Coordinates

Falkevik offers a style hard to pin down at all – jazz rock and intimate indie pop, perhaps? The compositions are just so playful, throwing us this way and then that way, without losing a sense of direction. The final track Så gikk jeg meg vill igjen (Then I got lost again) is so bristle and beautiful it is almost enbearable to listen to.

Own Side Now
Caitlin Rose

Caitlin Rose was only 23 when this album was first released. Now she is 34 and it is 8 years since she last released music. Sometimes I have to add re-releases (so-called deluxe releases), particularly when the music is as great as this. I loved The Stand-In from 2013, but country music turned indie music never sounded greater than on Own Side Now. The feminine feistiness of Cailtlin Rose is unsurpassed. Please, please, please release another album, Caitlin!

Raise the Roof
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

In 2007, the oddest couple ever in country music appears, bluegrass singer Alison Krauss together with rocker Robert Plant. The album Raising Sand was an instant hit far outside the traditional country music fanbase, winning six Grammys along the way. Who would have thought they would try again – and succeed? Raise the Roof is another victory, a collection of classics from country and folk.

Taevalaed
Haldi

Sample Track: Papale

This is a first, even for this playlist: An Estonian album, with lyrics in Estonian. Haldi is a singer/songwriter and Taevalaed is her second album, a collection of low-key, accoustic songs of immaculate beauty, lowering you blood pressure – if that’s an issue for you.

The Tears of Hercules
Rod Stewart

Sample Track: The Tears of Hercules

Rod Stewart refuses to lie down. And we thought it would stop after his row of incredibly successful American Standards albums? But no. A new album of mostly new songs is out, and 76-year old Stewart sounds nearly as great as he did god knows how many years ago when he started. This is both an album brimming with fun and laughter, and also with reminiscence and homage to people and places.

I have a genuine goodie bag for you this week. Many singles are clearly previews of exciting new albums we haven’t seen yet. Watch this space, you will – if the album is as good as the single , that is… All the singles below are in the playlist, but you can also click on eack name to have a seperate listen.

At My Best – Ole Børud

Beautiful Life – Michael Kiwanuka

Believing – Kristin Asbjørnsen

Cut – Sondre Lerche

A Dangerous Thing – AURORA

Dear past i’ve seen the apocalypse and i wanna go home – Askjell & Emilie Nicolas

House On the Bay – Alex McArtor & Nick Waterhouse

LA FAMA – ROSALíA & The Weeknd

Mr. Bojangles – Marlon Willams

New Shapes/Good Ones – Charli XCX

No Erasing You – Silje Nergaard & Lyder Øvreås Røed

Summerside – Federico Albanse & Marika Hackman

Truth Wide Open – Beady Belle

Two Ribbons – Let’s Eat Grandma

Two Winters Long – Josh Rouse

Waking World – Youn Sun Nah

What Am I Without You – Elbow

Your Nearness – Triosence & Paola Fresu

Be Yourself Tonight
Eurythmics

Eurythmics’ fourth album from 1985 was groundbreaking, both for the duo and, I would argue, for pop music. The duo had already pushed limits for pop and rock with their previous albums with their electionic sound, but here they entered into the world of superstardom, dominating the charts with their catchy and self-confident performances. Other superstars like Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and Aretha Franklin lined up to collaborate, contributing to eternal classics like There Will Be an Angel Playing With My Heart and Sisters are Doin’ it For Themselves. What a thrill to re-listen!

Most Enjoyable Albums of 2021

As in 2020, my ears have enjoyed themselves throughout 2021. Lots of new and exciting albums released, artists have come out of hibernation, at least partly, and we have seen new releases from old favourites like Adele, Ed Sheeran and ABBA, to name three that I have not added to this year’s list, as I suspect your are listening to them anyway.

Before I give you my favourite top 10 list, out of the 130 (!) albums I have introduced you to during 2021, let me mention an additional 15 wonderful albums I have had a special pleasure of reviewing and listening to this year (in alphabetical order).

I have also added each album’s Metacritic score, if there is one. Metacritic adds up all reviews of an album, and gives each album a score from 0-100. Any score above 70 is considered a very good one. It is also interesting/sad to see how many albums that I have picked that haven’t been properly and broadly reviewed. It is so hard for most artists to get the necessary attention these days, if their names are not Adele, Ed Sheeran or ABBA. One of the main purposes of this list is to draw attention to artists that many of you never would have listened to if it weren’t for you listening to my recommended albums. Thank you for that, and for spreading the word. Word-of-mouth is so important for lesser known artists.

Although the group of readers/listeners regularly reading my blog is not particularly large (a few hundred lovely souls), this year I have passed 20 000 visits to the blog since it was initiated! Hurrah!!! I am particularily pleased that many of the artists reviewed also have become readers.

So, on with the show. Click on the album cover, and you will be taken directly to the whole album on Spotify.

Californian Soil
London Grammar
Metacritic: 77
Indie Pop
Consequences
Joan Armatrading
Metacritic: 81
Folk Rock & Blues
Dark Hearts
Annie
Metacritic: 67
Electro Pop & Synth Pop
Delta Kream
The Black Keys
Metacritic: 75
Blues & Folk
How to avoid Difficult Situations
Club des Belugas
Metacritic: Not rated
Swing Jazz & Electro Jazz
Lilies and Dragonflies
Loren Nine
Metacritic: Not rated
Pop
Lindey Buckingham
Lindsey Buckingham
Metacritic: 79
Pop & Rock
Pressure Machine
The Killers
Metacritic: 79
Blues & Folk
Roses
The Paper Kites
Metacritic: Not rated
Pop
Roses of Neurosis
Sivert Høyem
Metacritic: Not rated
Pop
Swan Songs
Jørgen Emborg
Metacritic: Not rated
Jazz
Taste of Honey
Ulf Wakenius
Metacritic: Not rated
Jazz
The Art of Letting Go
Rikke Normann
Metacritic: Not rated
Pop
Servant
Shelby Lynne
Metacritic: Not rated
Spirituals & Gospel
Vulture Prince
Arooj Aftab
Metcritic: Not rated
Neo-Sufi & Jazz

Then on to my special favourites. Albums that stood out and that I enjoyed more than anything else I have listened to this year.

So, these are my top ten choices of 2021. (Some of the albums were released in 2020, but reviewed by me in 2021. ) You’ll find a link to the individual albums by clicking on the cover. If you want to listen to all of them, I have made a separate list.

Click HERE to listen to excerpts from all ten albums.

Valse(s)
Richard Galliano
Metacritic: Not rated
Instrumental Folk

I never thought I would even review an album of accordion music. But I have fallen in love with the beauty of Richard Galliano’s sensitive playing. This album takes me back to a place I have never been, to Paris in the 40s and 50s, to Parisian dance halls and bars with live music.

I Will Build You a House
Andreas Ihlebæk
Metacritic: Not rated
Instrumental neo-classical

Whenever I need peace of mind I put on pianist Andreas Ihlebæk’s quiet and oh-so-melodic «I Will Build You a House». There are many pianists out there operating in the genre area between classical and jazz. Ihlebæk is one of the very best.

star crossed
Kacey Musgraves
Metacritic: 78
Pop & Country

Kacey Musgraves went through a divorce and used it to make genuine and true pop music. In a way she goes back to her roots, creating pop and country music with a slightly off look at life and how we live it. Yes, it is sweet, but very genuine.

Inside (The Songs)
Bo Burnham
Metacritic: 98 (TV Show)
Comedy & Pop

Comedian Bo Burnham has created what probably is the ultimate representation of what this pandemic has done and can continue to do to us. His one-man show is so brilliantly written and performed, so poignant and poisenous, so funny and recognizable. The album works best when you have seen the show, but even if you haven’t, listen anyway.

Woman on the Internet
Orla Gartland
Metacritic: 75
Indie & Rock

One of the most pleasant surprises for me this year has been Irish singer-songwriter Orla Gartland. This collection of song introduces an artist who adds freshness, cleverness and a bit of naughtiness, not only to her lyrics, but to the arrangements and the songwriting. So tough and yet so soft.

Today We’re The Greatest
Middle Kids
Metacritic: 73
Pop

This Australian pop group manages to give us some of the best and catchy pop music of the year, just pure joy. The sophistication lies in the clever songwriting turns. A truly mood-enhancing album.

Dawn
Yebba
Metacritic: Not Rated
Pop, Soul & R&B

I just can’t believe this album hasn’t been widely recognized. Yebba is truly a new star, and yes, she has already won a Grammy (for a collaborative album). Still, most people haven’t had a chance to listen to her stunning voice and her broad and surprising repertoire. If you’re among them, go listen.

First Farewell
Peggy Seeger
Metacritic: 86
Folk & Singer/Songwriter

Peggy Seeger is an old lady and she doesn’t pretend otherwise. With «First Farewell» she brings us valuable insight about growing older, about looking back to learn, but also about living here and now. It is such a life-affirming album, so full of wisdom and joy, it makes me want to grow old like her.

Rorschach Test
Jay-Jay Johanson
Metacritic: Not Rated
Dubstep & Pop

Rorschach Test is such a joy to listen to. The suggestive and addictive rhythm that is always there, Jay-Jay Johanson’s calming crooner voice, the simple, slightly melancholic melodies that sticks in my mind but I just don’t grow tired of.

Not Your Muse
Celeste
Metacritic: 81
Soul, Pop, R&B & Jazz

I have to put Celeste’s album, «Not Your Muse» on top, even though it is slightly ridiculous to rate the top 4 albums in any particular order, they are all that good. Still, Celeste offers such a wide variety of music on this album, and all of it with pizazz and style. Some of the songs can bring me to tears, others just want me to move, others again makes me listen to what she has to say. What an incredible new artist.

And as a little treat at the end, here is last year’s John Lewis Christmas commercial, with Celeste singing «A Little Love» – and bringing us all a little love at the end of one more pandemic year.

Happy new year, everyone, please come back in January 2022 for the first new picks.

Transcending time and space 

Pompous headline, maybe, but music in general has the ability to do just that, to transcend all times, all ages, all locations. And specifically, this year’s last regular list lives up to that promise: with music written earlier this year mixed with centuries-old music; from music performed by Māori singer Stan Walker to music performed by Dutch violinist Janine Jansen; from music by 95-year old Tony Bennett to new songwriting from Lola Young, 75 years Tony’s junior. And I am pretty certain, since you are a regular of this blog, that you will thoroughly enjoy most of it, if not all.

HOW TO LISTEN:

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.

12 Stradivari
Janine Jansen & Antonio Pappano

Sample Track: Sonata in G Minor Opus 19: III.Andante by Rachmaninoff

So let’s start with the oldest pieces, classical gems performed by wonderkid turned wonderwoman Janine Jansen. This album climbed the Dutch hit lists this Autumn, and has made classical music popular even for listeners who didn’t know they would enjoy it. I have only added the occasional classic album to the playlist, but let this be a reminder of how much pleasure is to be found among the classics.

Dancing on My Knees
Bernhoft

Sample Track: Call Out Kids

Smooth soul singer/songwriter Jarle Bernhoft is out with a brilliant new album, playful yet emotional. Bernhoft handles most of the instruments himself, and makes the music swing and swirl througout the album. His voice is perhaps his most impressive instrument, as much a rhythm instrument as anything else.

Dawn
Yebba

Sample Track: Love Came Down

The cover photo on «Dawn», the debut album from Arkansas singer/songwriter Yebba, is easily interpreted as a picture of the birth of a star. The album was eagerly awaited,following a number of successful and impressive single releases (including in this blog list). Yebba is harder to pin down than many she is compared with, like Adele and Ed Sheeran, as she glides from one genre to another with ease. I highly recommend the whole album, particularly if you like the choice bits in this month’s list.

Deep Fishing
Why Kai

Sample Track: Wherever

What shall we call the music of Why Kai? The closest some has come is to describe as dance electroic jazz. Which doesn’t make all that much sense. Pianist Kai von der Lippe and his band mix electronic sounds with accoustic instruments, and the result is suprisingly intriguing and interesting to listen to. And perhaps dance to?

Deja
Bomba Estéreo

Sample Track: Soledad

Rolling Stone called Columbian duo Bomba Estéreo’s new album «a party record for a world in crisis». I can’t top that, so well put and all the description you need. It is an album full of life and joy, but lyrics and overall mood point to conflict and yearning for a better world.

History of a Feeling
Madi Diaz

Sample Track: New Person, Old Place

Madi Diaz stays within her own world, in a highly personal album about breakup and heartbreak. It nevertheless is a beautiful album, with lovely melodies, performed with Diaz’ distinct voice out in front, simple songwriting, yet sophisticated.

How to Avoid Difficult Situations
Club des Belugas

Sample Track: Casually

One of the most prolific bands in Europe, Club des Belugas, is again out with a new collection of nu jazz/jazz funk/swing jazz. I can’t get enough of them, as long-term listeners of my playlist have realized a long time ago. The Club know how to pick both new and classic jazz and swing tunes, making them their very own. And they also know how to pick unknown and very promising vocalists to perform with them. On How to Avoid Difficult Situations Iain Mackensie, Lene Riebau and old favourite Maya Fadeeva mold in with the band and impress from first to last track.

Lindsey Buckingham
Lindsey Buckingham

Sample Track: Time

It is quite rare so late in a long career to issue an untitled album, but there is so much that is rare with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame. He returned full force to pop music in 2019 with his collaboration with Christine McVie, also of Fleetwood Mac fame, one of the best pop albums of that year. This first solo album in a decade could easily climb into many top 10 lists of 2021. His knack for the great pop hook is so good it is almost annoying.

Love for Sale
Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett

Sample Track: Dream Dancing

It is truly bittersweet experience to listen to Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett’s second album together. Tony Bennett has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and it is most certainly his last album. Still, listening to the album of Cole Porter songs, is like being invited to a party hosted by two inseperable friends. Their voices are made for each other, and while Tony Bennett’s career is sadly at an end, Lady Gaga’s will hopefully last for decades and decades. This magnificent and versatile artist dares where others fear to thread.

Magic Mirror
Pearl Charles 

Sample Track: Take Your Time

Pearl Charles is out with her second album of smooth indie pop, clearly inspired by country as well. Most songs are slow and contemplative in nature, and as with many of the other singer songwriters in the list, the songwriting is surprisingly innovative and crafty.

On n’enferme pas les oiseaux
Barbara Pravi 

Sample Track: Mes Meladroits

Barbara Pravi came in second in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with a French chanson, Voila, as classic as they come. Now her album is out, and offers as much passion and beauty as we hoped for when we were introduced to this fiery singer in May. There are elements of both French and Middle Eastern folk music on the album, titled «We don’t lock up the birds». In French, naturally.

Outside Child
Allison Russell

Sample Track: Persephone

Another debut album, this time from Canadian singer Allison Russell, and another album that has received rave reviews from all over. This folk-pop collection has serious undertones, because all songs are reflections of a horribly abusive childhood. The music and Russell’s voice feels so sincere and deeply rooted.

The Servant
Shelby Lynne

Sample Track: Will The Circle Be Unbroken

It wasn’t a said thing that I would add a collection of Christian spirituals and gospel songs, but coming from Shelby Lynne, what choice did I have? This amazing singer and country artist seems to be able to do just about everything, as another reviewer commented. Every release from this amazing artist is different, and so is «The Servant». You will hear many «favourites» like Swing Low Swing Chariot and Go Tell it on the Mountain, but prepare to be dazzled. These are completely new takes on music that have been with us for centuries.

Six The Musical
Six Cast

Sample Track: Get Down

When Broadway finally opened again after having been closed down for more than a year, one of the most anticipated shows were British import Six, based on the lives and wives of Henry VIII. There is very little Tudor in these oh so contemporary pop and rock songs, and considerably more laughter and joy compared to the dreary times of Henry’s London. The first version of the musical opened on a few square feet in a back yard during Edinburgh’s Fringe season. Rags to riches.

A Southern Gothic
Adia Victoria

Sample Track: Whole World Knows

Adia Victoria has become one of the principal voices of the American South. This her third album is filled to the brim with accessible roots music, with a distinct contemporary feel, a collection that grows in esteem every time I listen.

Star-crossed
Kacey Musgraves

Sample Track: simple times

Kacey Musgraves filed for divorce last year and commented «I wasn’t going to be a real country artist if I didn’t have at least one divorce under my belt.» When she sings about the heartbreak it is slightly more serious. After «Golden Hour», her last album catering to the masses, she is back where she started, creating musing, heartfelt stories filled with irony and girl-next-door-quality, but with a new vulnerabilty. Hopefully, those who discovered her with Golden Hour will remain loyal, even go back to her first brilliant albums and be reintroduced.

Ta Arohanui
Stan Walker 

Sample Track: He Tangata

The last album of the month is from Māori singer Stan Walker. He has mostly recorded in English up to now, but decided this time to release in te reo, the Māori language of New Zealand. It is an interesting collection to listen to, filled with passion and emotion, but catering more to a Western audience that his own people, I would guess. Still, I am sure that an album with songs in the indigenous language of New Zealand will help build necessary bridges between cultures.

This month’s single list is brimming with artists having their own rooms in The Pop and Rock Hall pof Fame, like Adele, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Alanis Morisette, Elbow and Willie Nelson. And these are all new releases (but not necessarily new songs…) But don’t let the Fame Train stop you from listening to wonderful new releases from artists like Bedouine, Lola Yong, Anna-Lisa Kumoji, Christina Galisatus and other.

Easy On Me – Adele 

En av de levende – No 4 

FAKE – Lola Young 

Finish Line – Elton John & Stevie Wonder 

God Only Knows – Brian Wilson 

Hablo De… – Gaby Moreno 

If the World Just Danced – Diana Ross 

Kvarter – Daniela Reyes 

Long Gone Lonesome Blues – Bjørn Tomren

Nothing More to Say – Tess Henley 

One More Time – Rod Stewart 

On the Road Again – Alanis Morisette & Willie Nelson 

The Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow 

Shooting Stars – Anna-Lisa Kumoji 

The Sky is Painted Grey Today – Àsgeir 

The Wave – Bedouine 

When You Were Mine – Joy Crookes 

Who – Christina Galisatus 

Let It Be
The Beatles

Sample Track: I’ve Got A Feeling

8 May 1970 The Beatles released their last album, Let It Be. Their breakup was already old news when the album was released. The disappointment of the band’s demise probably influenced the lacklustre reviews of the album. All Beatles albums (I would say with the exception of Yellow Submarine) were more than brilliant, and Let it Be was in many ways not an exception. Still, there are quite a few half baked, whimsical tracks without much value on there, but it was also the album that introduced the world to classics like the title track, Get Back, The Long and Winding Road, Across the Universe and I Me Mine. Among others.

Repeat after me

New albums and singles are coming out in droves, now that artists can leave their recording bedrooms and climb back into proper studios. Still, music hasn’t changed a lot over the pandemic. In fact, many of this month’s artists have rather looked back for inspiration than forward. Listening through the playlist I hope you will conclude that is not necessarily a bad thing.

I have made one major change in this blog post: Instead of offering a link to the whole album reviewed (which I understand few of you used) I have picked and linked to one sample track from each album.

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.

Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.

You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.
Back to the Light
Brian May

Sample Track: Lost Horizon

Brian May of Queen fame is out with a «new» album, actually recorded in the early 1990s and re-mixed and released this year. It does show what Brian May contributed , and still contributes, to the sound of Queen, both as a songwriter and not least as guitarist.

Boy from Michigan
John Grant

Sample Track: County Fair

John Grant is one of the Jekylls and Hydes of the music business, with clearly two sides to his musical persona. His, let’s call it Jekyll-side, really appeals to me, melodic pop/rock with broad strokes, soft while powerful- But John Grant is also into experimental rock and synthpop, a musical world in which he loses me, mostly. Reading about his life with his unfair share of misery, illness and drug abuse could indicate to an amateur psychologist that there is a musical parallel here. Still, this is is best album since «Queen of Denmark» in 2010, (which again was one of the best albums this century, in my humble opinion). I have picked the best bits, but if you want to experiment like John, listen to the whole album.

Gravity
Marie Noreger

Sample Track: Soulfully High

Marie Noreger is a new voice, out with an EP of soothing R&B tracks. This is obviously an artist to be reckoned with, her distinct voice is created for this kind of laid back, atmospheric music.

Modern Love: Season 2
Rosie Carney, Andy Shauf, Gary Clark, Nerina Pallot, John Carney & John Byrne

Sample Track: Meet Cute

When Amazon Prime Video introduced this anthology series two years ago, we were given a two-in-one deal: a heartwarming television series based on the New York Times column Modern Love , and a simply brilliant album of modern pop songs. With the release of Season 2 we again were served a warm and life-affirming TV series, but the second soundtrack album doesn’t hold the same quality as with season 1. Still, there are quite a few memorable tracks here from artists like Nerina Pallot and John Burne.

Native Sons
Los Lobos

Sample Track: Sail On, Sailor

Versatile Californian band Los Lobos was formed in the early 1970s. Now these experienced musicians have looked back at songs written even earlier, and by other artists. The album has become a homage to both a time and to their native state, but also to their humble beginnings: Los Lobos started out as a cover band before they started creating their own special sound.

Pressure Machine
The Killers

Sample Track: Terrible Thing

The Killers’s Human has become a rock classic, a hymnlike song whose lyrics can still keep any group of fans busy for hours discussing what the song is actually about. There won’t be a similar discussion about the songs on Pressure Machine, their latest album. All songs are like polaroid photographs of rural America, most of these introduced by sound recordings of people living there. Each song is like a short story, some of them incredibly moving. This is what a John Steinbeck musical might sound like.

Release Me 2
Barbra Streisand

Sample Track: If Only You Were Mine (duet with Barry Gibb)

Barbra Streisand has managed to reach number 1 on the American charts six decades in a row, a record that I expect will be standing for a while. At 79 she is an American icon, as is her voice. She released an album in 2012 called Release Me, and this is the follow-up, with songs of Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Barry Gibb, Paul Williams, Randy Newman, Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Harold Arlen, and Carole King. So don’t complain about the quality of the song writing. Even Kermit the Frog appears on the album in a duet with the diva.

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning
Jake Bugg

Sample Track: All I Need

Jake Bugg’s career started with a bang in 2012, with his self-titled album that reached number one in the charts and being nominated to every conceivable music prize. His nasal, sharp and distinct voice was easily recognizable, and song after song drifted through the airwaves and into our lives. The three next albums were not as unanimously well recieved, although his popularity remained high. Now his fifth album is out, a very radio-friendly album, but still interesting and diverse.

Sob Rock
John Mayer

Sample Track: Shouldn’t Matter But it Does

John Mayer is a similar artist to Bugg in that he appeals to a radio MOR audience. Still there is something more true and expressive in what Mayer offers on his eight album, Sob Rock. The lyrics sounds slightly insipid, like silly love songs, but put to melodies that just stick in your head, so I forgive. I suggest you do, too. This is seductive pop music at its best.

Solar Power
Lorde

Sample Track: The Path

Lorde started out much in the same way as Jake Bugg, as an instant success. It was the single Royals that did it, mostly, and the fact that she was this innocent-looking girl from New Zealand, the country’s first megastar. But it has been difficult to continue at the same success level – it most often is. Also because Lorde didn’t want to be moulded into another Top 20 songstress with a great voice. This is also apparent on her new album. She goes her own ways, with a very laid-back soundscape, maybe too esoteric for those that became fans from the start.

Stand for Myself
Yola

Sample Track: Diamond Studded Shoes

There is very little laid-back about singer Yola and her second album, Stand for Myself. This is a collection with lots of power, from a woman with a message and a mission. She is clearly inspired by music from the 1970s and 80s, not that it sounds dated in any way, this a modern, sophisticated, album that will make you feet tap and your heart race.

Woman on the Internet
Orla Gartland

Sample Track: You’re Not Special, Babe

Orla Gartland’s debut album is breathtaking, so full of musical twists and surprises, and still such a delight to listen to. Woman on the Internet is so inventive and clever, without being gimmicky in any way. Gartland is an artist that speaks her mind, and it seems the people around her let he do just that. I hope it stays that way.

Two pieces of news: 1) ABBA is back!! and 2)Now you can watch the singles as music videos, when available. If not available, listen to the Short List or click on title.

American Tune – Stacey Kent & Art Hiraha

Carry You Home – KAMARA

Don’t Shut Me Down – ABBA

I Still Have Faith In You – ABBA

Louie Bag – Yebba & Smino

The Motions – Daniel Romano

Renegade – Big Red Machine

When You’re Not Around – Thom Hell

At the Edge of the World – Marisa Anderson & William Tyler

Can’t Let Go – Robert Plant & Alisaon Krauss

Crowd in the Middle – A Million Pineapples & Team Me

Pastiche
The Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer has been among my favourite bands for decades. I have seen them live six times, in three countries, and while the group is just an amazing live act, thankfully the four perform equally well in a recording studio. Their musicality knows no boundaries, nobody comes even close to the way they harmonize, and I suspect few bands have managed to merge jazz and pop as well as the four members did. Pastiche is the closest the group ever came to a pop album (even though their best jazz number of all times, Four Brothers, is on it), and many of their jazz fans were slightly offended. It isn’t their very best album, I admit, but it demonstrates their music power even when performing simpler material.

It is also fair to mention that when I speak of «the four», there has been two editions of The Manhattan Transfer, with Tim Hauser as the only member of both. Still, all members without exception have been brilliant performers.