We are in May, and it was about time to find what may be Album of the Year, from an artist I previously haven’t been too excited about.
Joan as Police Woman
Her name is Joan Wasser, but she is performing as Joan as Police Woman. She is from Maine and had a tough start in life. One of the many results of American teen pregnancies, she was adopted as an infant. She coped well and prospered, took up the violin and started on a classical eduction. Perhaps this is why she called her new album The Classic – or maybe because she knows it may just turn out to be just that – a classic album. Time will tell. Her songs grow on me every time I listen to them, and she never gives the listener a chance to be bored, as this is happy, varied and high accomplished set of songs.
Marte Wulff has recorded an album, Utlengsel (Longing to get out), together with her local symphony orchestra in Kristiansand, Norway. The ambitions must have been to create a classic album, just like Joan Wasser, but the tracks are not varied enough with a sombre mood permeating too many of them. Still, some of the best tracks are very good and profound, and the full sound of an orchestra adds to the grandness. “Denne vinden” (“This Wind”) is like a regional anthem to Southern Norway.
Fellow Norwegian Morten Harket, formerly of a-ha, has released his fifth solo album, Brother, and it is by far his best. Again an aging artist shows us that aging means maturing. In some of the songs Harket keeps his voice low for once, with an astonishing effect (for a-ha aficionados there are more than enough falsetto tracks in there). The song writing is great, catchy and heartfelt songs that stay with me.
German-Nigerian singer Ayo is like Morten Harket singing in English, but her command of the language leaves something to be desired. The lyrics are often juvenile and clichéd , but her voice and the melodies still make Ticket to the World worth listening to. This is classic pop music with a dash of soul. Ayo is a great star in both Germany and France, and was honoured with a documentary about her life a few years ago. She is also an actress.
Former street musician Peter Mulvey has been recording for three decades, but most people, including me, will not have heard much about him, despite his 19 album releases. I immediately took a fancy both to his confident, quality pop songs and to his wry lyrics on his 20th album, Silver Ladder. It pays to keep going, obviously. That may be sound advice to some of the debut artists that I have added to the blog list.
Australian Jeremy Hunter has only released an EP, simply called Jeremy Hunter, but may have a future both as a singer and songwriter. He is playing all the instruments on the EP, rarely a good a choice, but I think Hunter pulls it off. Perhaps we will hear more from this quiet folk pop artist. I’ll keep an air to the ground.
Brooklyn quintet Lucius is also out with their debut album, Wildewoman. The band’s front women are Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig and it is these two women that are responsible for much of the spunky, feminine sound of Lucius. This is summer music, full of energy and creativity of song writing. The band has gotten a lot of attention in the music press in the United States, so let’s see if this is the start of a long music career.
The Belle Brigade
The Belle Brigade is brother and sister duo Barbara and Ethan Gruska from Los Angeles. I am beginning to lose interest in this kind of Southern California harmony pop music, but Just Because from The Belle Brigade manages to keep me interest for a wee longer, basically because the orchestrations are much richer than on similar albums, making the songs more lasting and surprising. Just Because is their second album.
This week we have to let go of Caro Emerald, Club des Belugas, Eliza Doolittle, Emelie Nicolas, Jonathan Wilson, Kacey Musgreaves, Rhye, Sumie and Tess Henley,
The updated blog list is here, for your enjoyment: