It’s time to renew the playlist, this time with as many as 19 new albums, ranging from the sweetest pop to the saddest blues. I believe that you, as a regular listener to my blog list, enjoy variety as much as I do, and are equally bored by the same crappy copycat music from (mostly) Swedish music producers – or radio stations playing the same 80s music again and again and again, especially when there is so much interesting music being created out there that is rarely played.
So here goes:
The Cactus Blossoms – Easy Way – Americana
A duo from Minnesota, sounding like the Everly Brothers seasoned with more than a pinch of Americana. Easy Way is their second album.
zalagasper – Stiri – R&B
You have already been introduced to the two lovebirds from Slovenia, they competed in this year’s ESC final, where they clearly didn’t belong, with their lounge-like R&B. Their EP, Stiri, shows off more of their truly laid-back music.
Spöket i köket – Chateau de Garage – Folk
The ghost in the kitchen (yes, that’s what it means) is 10-man band with members from Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, playing – and playing with – European folk music, with guts and humour. So much fun!
Julia Biel – Julia Biel – Pop/Jazz
Another great Billie Holiday-inspired singer, merging pop and jazz effortlessly. If you have enjoyed Hailey Tuck and Madeleine Peyroux, you are bound to like Biel.
ISÁK – Ealan – Folk/Rock
The Sámi-Norwegian band ISÁK fuses traditional joik with rock and pop. The vocalist Ella Marie, who became a household name in Norway last year when winning the country’s most popular music contest, Stjernekamp, has a rare, powerful voice, permeating all tracks on their mighty first album.
Fly Sonata – Fly Sonata – R&B/Soul
Another fusion band is debuting Fly Sonata from the south of England, labelling themselves as future soul outfit, and there is definitely a lot of soul in there, but also so many other music influences. The result is fluid, lovely and a great listening experience.
Finn Andrews – One Piece at a Time – Pop
One Piece at a Time is the first solo album from English Finn Andrews, formerly lead singer of The Veils. This is song writing at its very best, soul-gripping melodies elevated by Andrews’ vulnerable, but controlled voice. Outstanding.
Rymden – Reflections & Odysseys – Jazz
Nordic jazz, much of it a bit challenging for the average music listener, but some of the tracks are eerily beautiful, primarily because of pianist Bugge Wesseltoft’s sensitive contribution.
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs – Blues
Great contemporary blues band from Florida, led by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, deviating refreshingly from the traditional three-chord blues, and still creating believable blues.
Salvador Sobral – Paris, Lisboa – Jazz/Pop
Sobral won ESC last year, we were many that couldn’t believe his low-key jazzy music could receive such a merit. But Salvardor Sobral does his own thing and doesn’t care for commercial success. Some of the songs on his first album since the win is a bit quirky and introvert, but I can’t stop enjoying every minute of his music and respect his giving the music industry the finger.
Robert Ellis – Texas Piano Man – Country/Rock
Another continuous favourite of mine is Robert Ellis. I saw him perform live a few years ago, and got even more fond of his deeply personal, evocative, country music then. His new album is filled with his witty but also painful fabulations about contemporary life, mostly his own.
Gilbert O’Sullivan – Gilbert O’Sullivan – Pop
Some of the best pop music made in the 70s came out of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s head, but after the three absolutely brilliant first albums, O’Sullivan’s fame started to wane. Like McCartney, he has lost some of his knack of the great melodies, but he has continued to record and perform, and his latest album presents an artist that wants to stay where he is – and was. Most of the time that works fine.
AURORA – A Different Kind of Human Part 2 – Pop
One of the most talented singer-songwriters right now is AURORA. Her third album is out, and it might be her best yet. She has created a music style of haunting drums, broad harmonies and energetic refrains that stick in your mind.
Maria Due – The Colour White – Pop/Folk
AURORA is not alone among Norwegian female singer-songwriters, the “Singing Psycologist” as the press has labelled her, Maria Due, has released her third studio album, The Colour White. The title track is among the best recently produced songs in my view, self-confidently written and performed by Due
Dido – Still on my Mind – Pop
Another female artist who won’t lie down is Dido, a pop sensation in the late 1990s. Now she’s is back with one of her best releases yet, even though (or maybe because) she hasn’t changed her formula very much. Her voice is still her greatest asset and very much at the forefront of every track, and the lyrics are emotional and personal.
Glen Hansard – This Wild Willing – Pop
Glen Hansard’s voice has been described as “whispery growl”, an acquired taste, perfect if you’re into Tom Waits and Nick Cave. I am into them, but only partially, and the same goes for Hansard. Still, when he’s good he is more than great, and some of the best tracks on This Wild Willing, are just that.
The Leisure Society – Arrivals & Departures – Pop
I didn’t expect a relationship break-up album from the boys in The Leisure Society, but that’s what we got with Arrivals & Departures. And with a lot of the humour of previous albums departed, replaced by more poignant and bitter lyrics. Still, this is an album worth listening to, their pop tunes are as good as before, and even though the playfulness in the lyrics are subdued, the melodies are genuinely The Leisure Society.
Sara Bareilles – Amidst the Chaos – Pop
The Waitress musical, written by Sarah Bareilles, became a great Broadway success, but it is a pop artist and singer-songwriter we first got to know her. Amidst the Chaos takes her back to these roots, and her very clever and imaginative songwriting is brilliantly performed, a bit soulless and polished, perhaps, but Bareilles knows her craft and never ceases to surprise.
Jenny Lewis – On the Line – Pop/Rock
I was sad to see the wonderful band Rilo Kiley break up a few years back. There was a plus, though, the break-up became the start of the vocalist Jenny Lewis’ solo career. On the Line is her third album, and a very mature one it is, both in the material itself and in the arrangements. A long list of infamous contributors have added to the result, not that she couldn’t have managed without Ringo Starr, Back and Ryan Adams and their likes. Jenny Lewis has been through a lot, read all about it in her lyrics, but she is defiant and there is definitely light than darkness on this album
Out the playlist window go: Paul Weller, Death Cab for Cutie, Boz Scaggs, noonday underground, Willie Nelson, Delgres, Mariza, Falkevik, Alexandra Streliski, AURORA’s second album, Robyn, Honey Hahs, The Jayhawks, A Star is Born soundtrack and Madeleine Peyroux.