Let’s start with a singer gone solo, Jenny Lewis, better knows as lead singer in Rilo Kiley, a favourite band of mine. She recently released The Voyager, with a sound that is unmistakably Rilo Kiley, happy pop music with a twist of lemon in the lyrics. The album was five years in the making, but she also managed to get a duo album with her boyfriend Jonathan Rice during that time. Jenny also has an acting career to manage, she has appeared in a number of TV series, including Pleasantville and American Dad.
We’ll remain in the US, but musically we are on our way to France and to French pop in the sixties. Who can forget Jane Birkin and Je t’aime Moi Non Plus. Got a Girl couldn’t either, and the duo have now released an album with the catching name I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now. Mary Elizabeth Winstead copies Ms Birkin in many ways, but the Got A Girls songs are more interesting in 2014 than the French tracks from 1960s. Mary Elizabeth Winstead also copies Jenny Lewis, by the way, as she is also making a career as an actress in TV and films. Taster: Got A Girl – Everywhere I Go
We find a similar duo on the other side of the Atlantic, in Sheffield, England. Slow Club also digs its roots into music of the recent past, but with less humour and pizazz than Got A Girl, but their new album Complete Surrender, their third so far, is beautiful and with a rich sound. The two members of the group Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor handle most of the instruments themselves on the album. Taster: Slow Club – Dependable People And Things That I’m Sure Of
I have added two English male artists that both have made an impression on my ear drums and beyond. Dan Clews was taken under the wings of George Martin, which isn’t the worst start an artist can have. He has gone on to be a darling of BBC’s Radio Two, performing live there a number of times, and this summer he made an appearance on the Glastonbury Festival in connection with the release of his album Tourist in My Own Back Yard. Taster: Dan Clews – Pixie Poem
Benjamin Clementine is an amazing new artist; with a voice it is hard to forget once you have heard it, which may be why he has been compared to Nina Simone and Anthony Hagerty. He doesn’t sound like any of them, but if you listen to his songs you will soon understand why the comparisons are made. Benjamin’s parents are from Ghana and he himself is born in North London. I really look forward to seeing him perform live in Oslo this coming Sunday. Taster: Benjamin Clementine – London
Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast has also impressed music journalists and audiences alike. He is a political activist as well, and has been on the barricades for the people of his country and performed a number of charity concerts. I have to admit that I find a lot of world music from Africa on the tedious side, but Tiken Jah Fakoly’s music is different. Firstly it must be considered reggae with a definite African twist, both in the instrumentation and slightly different reggae rhythms. It is also refreshing to hear reggae being sung in French. His newest album out now is called Dernier Appel. Taster: Tiken Jah Fakoly – Tata
As alien as African reggae may sound, classical pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa’s African touch to classical music isn’t less surprising. The Ethiopian pianist is clearly fond of European composers like Chopin, but if you listen to the two lovely tracks I have added, you may definitely hear chords and music lines that are inspired under a different sun. I have played Love & Peace a lot the last month, so I hope you will give it a chance as well, even if classical music isn’t your thing. Taster: Girma Yifrashewa – Chewata
On to another artist I have listened a lot to lately, Loudon Wainwright III. His latest album, I Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet), is filled to the brim with strong, well-written, powerful songs. I urge to listen to the whole album, and I dare you to find one track that isn’t well crafted. Talent runs in the Wainwright family, and I am a great admirer of many members of the clan. This album proves that the best of the all may in fact be Loundon senior. Taster: Loudon Wainwright III – Harmless
Continuing with men in hats: One of the most copied American artists is John Hiatt. His 23rd studio album is called Terms of My Surrender, and having listed to these brilliant bluesy songs released in his 62nd year alive, I am sure that artists will line up covering a number of them in the future as well. Blues can ealily be repetitive, not so with John Hiatt’s blues tracks. Enjoy! Taster: John Hiatt – Old People
Kodaline is a rock band from Ireland, instantly reminding me of Coldplay and similar groups. In Ireland the group’s popularity has grown with every album, and listening to their latest album, In a Perfect World, one can easily understand why. The song writing is impressive, many songs stick in your mind. The group has fought hard for their home spun success. I see no reason why their popularity shouldn’t expand to other countries. Taster: Kodaline – All I Want
We end our trip around the world and through a number of genres with King Creosote from Scotland and his album From Scotland With Love. The album is in fact a soundtrack to a film, released this summer to coincide with the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow. King Creosote is also a genre hopper, he is hard to pin down, delving into everything from gypsy music to songs clearly being inspired by his lovely home country.
Henry Priestman, Making Marks, Roseanne Cash, San Fermin, Suzanne Vega and Switchfoot are all leaving us now, so if you have a particular fondness for one or more of them, you are on your own in Spotify-land. Sorry.