This is the last regular blog entry this year (the usual round-up of the year is planned for Christmas), and I bring you the return of previous masters of pop, who all have in common that they’ve still got it. But as usual I bring you artists you probably haven’t had the chance to listen to before, hopefully some of them will please you and help warm up the coldest time of year (unless you live on the southern hemisphere, of course).
Chrissie Hynde – Wake Up Again – Jazz/Pop/American Songbook
Taylor Swift – Lover – Pop/Country
A whole – and very long – album containing songs about love, but not all of them love songs. Swift is at her best when she avoids the standard pop song. She is huge enough star to play around, making Lover a true and enjoyable album.
Sheryl Crow – Threads – Pop
Sheryl Crow has speculated that Threads may be her last album. Hopefully not, this is truly a great collection of new songs and classics woven perfectly together, including a number of duets with people like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Chuck D.
Liam Gallagher – Why Me? Why not. – Rock
I was a huge fan of Oasis when younger, and since Liam Gallagher doesn’t even pretend to move an iota away from the Oasis formula, Why me? Why not. is a nostalgic and foot stomping album, with a perfect mixture of rock and power ballads. Maybe a bit painful for the most delicate of ears among my readers, but give it a chance and let go. Why not.
Caravan Palace – Chronologic – Jazz/Pop/Funk
There is nothing chronologic about this wonderful album from French group Caravan Palace, this is truly all over the place, jumping from bossa nova to funk to jazz to whatever they want to do. I love every mood they create.
Puerto Candelaria – Cinema Trópico – Latino
Fieh – Cold Water Burning Skin – Jazz
More exuberant music, this time from vocalist Sofie Tollefsbøl and Norwegian jazz band Fieh, who veers away from jazz and into funk and pop whenever it suits them, turning this album into a buffet of genres. Very playful and well executed.
No 4. – Duell – Jazz / Pop
Girl trio No 4. (so called because it was their fourth band name), sing in their native tongue, about love and loss and learning how to live one’s life and deal with embarrasment. Both the music and lyrics are heart-warming, sweet but sophisticated, with lots of self-irony. The harmonies are flawless.
Club des Belugas – Strange Things Beyond the Sunny Side – Big band/Jazz/Pop
Another genre- expanding band, Club des Belugas, has been a frequent visitor in my blog lists. Although their repertoire is sometimes way too wide, with lots of forgettable tracks, when Club des Belugas is at their very best, they are unbeatable. Rhythms galore, great vocalists, humour and fun.
Iamthemorning – The Bell – Pop
The true opposite is Russian singer/pianist duo Iamthemorning, lovely, slow, sad and serious. Sometimes too lovely, slow, sad and serious, but more often impressive and dramatic and going straight to my heart with its beauty.
Seeker Lover Keeper – Wild Seeds – Pop
Behind the band name hide three eminent Austrialian artists, including one of my favourite singers, Sarah Blasko. This is clearly a side project, but there is nothing second-hand about the songwriting and the performance. These are great pop songs, and an album they can be proud of.
Those Pretty Wrongs – Zed for Zulu – Pop/Folk
Another side project, this time from Luther Russel (who is already in my blog list with his solo album) and Jody Stephens, two guys inspired by Beatles and Beach Boys and other 60s bands. And it shows. A package of great pop songs, sometimes with a folksy touch.
Belle & Sebastian – Days of the Bagnold Summer- Pop
Songsmiths Belle & Sebastian seem to release a couple of albums a year, now with an enormous catalogue of well crafted pop songs. But this time they have a good excuse for a release: Days of Bagnold Summer is a new movie and this is its soundtrack.
dePresno – Monochrome – Contemporary Pop
Eleni Mandell – Wake Up Again – Pop/Country
I’ll end the year with another of my favourite voices, Eleni Mandell, an artist who has released album upon album over the last two decades with flawless and interesting country/pop songs, gaining her a lot of respect, but no mass stardom. Somehow, I think she doesn’t really care, because there is no desperation in her songs, no flirtation with formula music, just genuine, true pop music. And that is what this blog is all about.
Goodbye for now to Ally Kerr, Sigrid, zalagasper, Tiny Ruins, Over the Rhine, William Tyler, Mamood, Lake Malawi, Joe Jackson, Hekla Stålstrenga, Ximena Sarimana, Lily & Madeleine, Julius Meyvant and Rikke Normann.