Welcome to 81 new songs carefully handpicked for you to start the new year off in a proper fashion. These are songs hatched in freedom, with artists that at least on the surface do what they like without paying too much attention to trends and charts. So you might not find many of these 13 albums on Billboard Top 100. As long-standing readers and listeners of my blog know, that can sometime ensure that the music is fresh and appetizing.
And since it is a new year and a good time to make changes, I leave you with, not one but TWO lists: A new list called (click here:) Petter’s Newcomers with only the new entries, and the good, old list, (Click here:) Petter’s Blog List, including all songs in rotation, including the new entries.
Airelle Besson, Edouard Ferlet, Stéphane Kerecki – Aïrés – jazz
Three French jazz musicians, Airelle Besson, Edouard Ferlet and Stéphane Kerecki , have joined forces for a year, and the result is Aïres, an accessible jazz album of standards and new compositions, with Airelle Besson’s lovely trumpet sound in the forefront. If you like the sample I have left in the list, you are likely to enjoy the full album.
Lenka – Attune – pop
Lenka’s music is often optimistic and uncomplicated, sometimes bordering on the naïve, but she always leave me humming along to the playful tunes. Attune is her fifth album, and there is nothing really new here, but sometimes more of the same is exactly what the doctor ordered. For new listeners who like what they hear, you know what to do.
Lizz Wright – Grace – jazz/traditional
Lizz Wright has released a new album, Grace, made up of standards written and/or performed by dignitaries like Ray Charles, Allen Toussaint, k.d. lang, Bob Dylan and Nina Simone. She is somewhat like a dignitary herself, her deep, lovely, jazzy voice has been heard on five other albums. Her interpretations are inspiring and fresh.
Lee Ann Womack – The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone – country/soul
Lee Ann Womack is the quintessential country singer, but on her new album, The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone, she is definitely drifting into soul territory, but never ever losing the country feel to the music. Both country and soul can be pitch dark, so this is not the album to listen to when you’re depressed. Still, there is so much beauty and love of the ordinary life here, that it might be worth it. At least you’ll feel good while you’re feeling bad.
Whitehorse – Panther in the Dollhouse – rock
Panther in the Dollhouse. I love the image the album title provokes, and husband-and-wife band Whitehorse’s fourth album does not show off two well-behaved musicians. Their love of rock’n’roll permeates most songs, but there is so much variety here that the music and lyrics are difficult to describe, sometimes sultry, other times biting and sarcastic. I have enjoyed their previous albums and was not disappointed when their fourth was released last year.
Benny Andersson – Piano – pop/classical
Benny Andersson of ABBA fame has released a solo album – simply called Piano – on Deutsche Grammofon, performing songs on a grand piano from his vast catalogue. If anyone was in any doubt before about the quality of his compositions, listen to this album. In my view, Andersson is up there with the great composers of our time, like Lennon/McCartney, George Gerschwin and Irving Berlin. Both his songs for ABBA and his post-ABBA music are brilliantly performed, with so much emotion and grace that it almost makes me cry listening to the love, sweetness or pain that radiate through his fingers.
Pugwash – Silverlake – rock/pop
On to another great tunesmith, Thomas Walch of Irish band Pugwash and their new album Silverlake. If you’re a McCartney or an ELO fan, look no further. Yes, it is a bit old fashioned, but if you are that kind of music fan, like me, that is complementing the album, not criticizing. And if you have had enough of darkness and winter, Pugwash will definitely introduce an early summer in your ears. Lovely.
U2 – Songs Of Experience – rock
Listen and choose sides. Two new releases that have got people talking are U2’s and Morissey’s albums. I love both of them, at least most of it. I have added a range of tracks from Songs of Experience, hopefully to show that U2 still make vibrant and crowd pleasing music. Yes, it might be new wrapping around music they have made before, as many reviewers argue,but it is written and performed with the experience you only get after having stayed around as long as U2 have. The songs wear well, and I have to admit I had a hard job choosing only a part of, not the whole, album.
Morrissey – Low in High School – rock/pop
This man has lost the power to offend a long time ago, you don’t go more free range than Morrissey. But he is one of the few artists that force me to listen to what he has to say, just out of curiosity. We all like to be outraged. What makes the album a good listen, though, is the music and the production. These are not bad tunes, and they are well performed both by Morissey and by the excellent musicians he has brought along. So let it be that he has discovered oral sex since his last album. Good for him. Move on.
Peter Cincotti – Long Way from Home – pop
If what Morrisey is doing is showing teeth, then Peter Cincotti is completely toothless. His album Long Way From Home, is at times too sleek for my taste, but most tracks are little Billy Joelish pop gems, predictable at times, yes, but Cincotti knows what is in his toolbox, and he crafts songs that you will swear you have heard before, but nevertheless sounds new and fresh and has hooks that bring something unexpected to your ears. At least some of the time.
Warhaus – Warhaus – rock/pop
If your name is Maarten Devoldere and want to make it internationally, you might as well call yourself Warhaus. And your album Warhaus. The Belgian singer with the dark voice may remind you of Leonard Cohen, but the comparison stops with the feel of the voice. The expected bleakness may be there, but there is something burlesque, even humorous as well in these songs. The music is considerably more varied than you would expect from a trip into musical noir.
Nick Garrie – The Moon and the Village – folk
68-year old Nick Garrie is also strangely connected to Leonard Cohen. The two toured Spain together in the 1990s, two mythical figures that I am sure fitted each other like a glove. Garrie has released very few albums, but his debut from 1970 is still one of the hardest to find anywhere. His new album, The Moon and the Village , is sweet and old-fashioned, intimate songs about village life, sometimes sounding like nursery rhymes. Still, I am sure you will enjoy the simplicity of it all. And if you’re curious about how myths are made, listen to The Nightmare of JB Stanislas.
Leon Russell – On a Distant Shore – pop
We end on a sad note, the posthumous album from the larger-than-life singer and composer Leon Russell. He brought a symphony orchestra into the studio and re-recorded most of his greatest hits. The sadness comes from knowing this is the last we’ll hear from him, but there is much joy to be found in listening to a tunesmith almost up there with the dignitaries I have mentioned before. The arrangements on On a Distant Shore are now and then a bit too much for my taste, but you are left in doubt about the classic quality of the tunes. And then there is Russell’s voice. His voice gives new meaning to the word raspy. Who can claim raspiness after Leon Russell?
To add freshness to the full blog list, we say goodbye many of the great names of 2017, Cory Branan, Salvador Sobra, Andrew Combs, Blanche, Coco Hames, Eliane Elias, Karen Elson, Vellichor, Artsvik, Jowst, Lekerommet, Mike & The Machanics, Aimee Mann, Tom Hickox, Mark Nevin, Unnveig Aas, Papai Joci, Father John Misty, Nathan Trent, Curse of Lono, Bob Dylan and Dan Clews,.