Seven girls, two boys and a band are filling vacant spots in my Easter addition to Petter’s Blog List, probably the best playlist of new, mostly unknown tracks in the known musical universe (sorry, shameless bragging or not, it had to be said). Some of the girls are truly that, the youngest is only 16, which means we have a lot to look forward to of musical brilliance in the years to come. So why not start with her?
Billie Marten is from Ripon in Yorkshire, and had her own YouTube channel at the age of nine, doing covers and impressing enough people to build a steady following. She has issued two EPs, the latter, As Long As, is now in my blog list, for very good reasons. The music is silky smooth, as Billie’s wonderful, calming voice. She reminds me of Rumer that had a short career a couple of years back (she may return…), but with an even more distinct relaxed sound.
If Billie is the princess of the minor key, Eilen Jewell from Idaho, is the queen, at least according to her album cover. Queen of the Minor Key is an impressive collection of songs with deep roots in folk and country and old-fashioned rock’n’roll. The album was recorded in 2011, but the music is so timeless, I couldn’t resist putting in six of the tracks. She has since recorded three (sic) live albums, and a new album was released last year. I might come back to it.
When British department store John Lewis issued their new Christmas commercial, they used the Norwegian teenager Aurora to sing a cover of Oasis’ Half The World Away. By doing this John Lewis introduced Aurora to a wider international audience, and two weeks ago she released her first full-length album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend. I do hope this is a start of a tremendous career, for Aurora from Bergen, Norway, is truly a talent out of the ordinary. Her insistent voice is something I haven’t experienced before from any other artist, coupled with lyrics proving that Aurora is wise beyond her years. I have added seven songs, but could easily have added the whole album.
At the same time as Aurora released her album, a much more experienced Norwegian artist released her first solo album. I have played Frøkedal before in my play list, as lead singer in I was a King, but it is as a solo artist she really impresses me. Hold On Dreamer is a peculiar album, folksy and melodic and dreamy at the same time. She uses many acoustic instruments to create her sound, and the song writing is confident and strong. The songs may not be immediately hummable, but they leave a lasting impression.
From the village of Etne in Norway to Mali in Africa, there we meet Rokia Traore, a world music singer with an international background. Her father was a diplomat, so she was exposed to music from all over the world at an early stage. On her new album, Ne So, she stays quite true to her origins, but she is at her best in my view when she add influences from jazz and more Western music. I tire a bit from the most local of world music, and Traore has added a fair share of the local on the album, but I think you will enjoy the four great tracks I have added. Feel free to try the whole album.
You may not have heard of Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, which may be a good reason to perform under the name of Lissie, less of a mouthful. Lissie doesn’t live the urban rock life; she lives on a remote farm in Iowa, if she is not touring and recording. Her new album, My Wild West, has many references to rural life, and leaving the city behind. She paints music with broad strokes, sometimes bordering the pompous, sometimes vulnerably simple.
Let’s remain in the American West, and visit Samantha Crain of Native American descent, living in Oklahoma. Her music is sweet and melodic, but the lyrics very often show us an opinionated artist in the Dylan tradition. She cares about the issues she is singing about, whether she deals with race, wealth or class. It wouldn’t hurt to have more songwriters like Samantha… Her newest album, released last year, is called Under Branch & Thorn & Tree, from which I have added six glorious tracks.
The English band Turin Brakes has been recording since 1999 and is still at it, a few months ago releasing its eighth studio album, Lost Property. There is a lot of the mellow side of Oasis in their music, but Turin Brakes is hard to pin down, which may be more of a curse than a blessing. I like what I hear and have added seven very different tracks to my list. If you, like me, use shuffle a lot, you may have a hard time tying the seven songs together when you hear them, but the tracks make me straighten up every time I hear them. Who is this? Oh, it’s Turin Brakes!
Irish violinist and folk musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire is next. His solo album And Now The Weather was brought to my attention through Spotify’s brilliant Discover Weekly algorithm personalized list. The all-instrumental album offer true Irish folk, but with a contemporary feel to the music, joyful and positive.
I was seriously in doubt whether I should add tracks from my old hero Elton John’ new album, because I was so disappointed after having played through the tracks once. I am not alone in longing for the old Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sound to return, but I expect he doesn’t have it in him any more, even though he gets help from musicians from that period of his life, and the ever brilliant T-Bone Burnett has produced. The problem is the song writing, much less sophisticated and ground breaking than before. Still, as with other former musical giants, we may expect too much. When I listened the second time, the songs weren’t half bad, some of them enjoyable and foot-stamping good. So I changed my mind and added five new Elton John songs from Wonderful Crazy Night after all. What the heck.
Lots of artists are being excused from service to make room for the 57 new tracks: Ane Brun, Yo La Tengo, Amason, Brian Wilson, The Unthanks, Ingrid Michaelson, Kitty, Daily & Lewis, Rayland Baxter, Beach House, Sweet Baboo, Lianne LaHavas and Chris Connolly. Many of them you will find in last year’s Best of List.