It’s July, and time to be movin’! For some of us it might be to keep warm; July has been like a late September in my neck of the woods. But for whatever reason you might enjoy a bit of a rhythm to fill your summer days, here are some of the most enjoyable albums, singles and EPs out at the moment. And on our monthly trip down memory lane, we’re back in 1969, when The Moody Blues released their On the Threshold of a Dream album.
How to listen:
Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.
But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020, now more than 27 hours of continuous music….. Click here.
And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full
Rina Sawayama, with a college degree in political science from Cambridge, and with a background from Japan, is an interesting new artist. Her debut album, SAWAYAMA, while offering us mainstream dance pop and R&B, is still way more interesting to listen to than many other releases in the same category.
Dua Lipa has a background from Albanian Kosovo, but unlike Rina Sawayama, there isn’t a hint of her roots as far as I can tell. If you’re going to make international mainstream dance-pop, you might as well do it well. Which is what Dua Lipa is doing. This is as sophisticated as dance-pop comes.
I am and have been a great fan of Lady Gaga, one of the most versatile artists in the music business today, daring and forever curious in her musical choices. But her new album is mostly a disappointment. As with the two reviews above, this is mainstream dance-pop, but unlike Dua Lipa and Rina Sawayama, the Lady is mostly repeating what others have done in drones before her. Still, there are a few exceptions, and I have picked them for you, two of them duets with Ariana Grande and Elton John respectively.
Sondre Lerche knows his stuff, but many on many of his previous albums he has been too smart for his own good, getting lost in his own creativity. Not this time. Patience is a brilliant album, his best yet, so many beautiful and well-crafted tracks – a delight to listen to. Perhaps this should be the sound of summer 2020, more than the dance albums above.
A little more predictable than Sondre Lerche, but One Day at a Time from Irish band Kodaline is a sweet album, with lots of velvety pop and a great number of well-crafted songs. It is far cry from the sound of Irish boy bands, if you were worried there for a minute…
Drake Bell is considerably more famous as a television actor than as a musician, but he did have a massive hit with his album It’s Only Time in 2006. He recorded a follow-up, but managed to lose his hard drive, and the album was never released. Until he found the hard drive in a shoe box or similar – and the rest is history as they say. The Lost Album sounds like it has been lost for longer than 14 years, and that is meant as a compliment. This is lush 1980s pop with lovely melodies, rich harmonies and a lot of pop creativity.
Nicole Atkins is hard to pin down. Her at times overly dramatic voice comes off a bit odd, but I suspect she’s having a bit of fun, too. And as far as the music goes, this is clever stuff, very well executed and arranged, with more than a hint of nostalgia.
Delicatessen is a Brazilian jazz/bossa nova group- Their new album mostly consists of standards, but Delicatessen, with their lead vocalist Rowena Jameson, make the well-known songs their own. And let’s face it: it is also the sound of summer to be swingin’ in the breeze with these guys, who know their bossa nova when they hear it.
A lot of great music comes out of Belgium these days, and the Belgians are smart enough to expose the world to their best artists through Eurovision Song Contest. A few years back, young singer Blanche impressed many of us with her City Lights, perhaps one of the most sophisticated entries in ESC ever. We have waited patiently for her first album, and here it is. Arguably it could have been stronger, but maybe my expectations were just too high. Still, as a debut this is way above average, with a lovely mix of soul, electro and a dash of indie music.
An extraordinary number of exciting new singles and EPs are out. Perhaps artists find it hard to record full albums with the restrictions forced on us by the corona pandemic. This month I offer you new songs from seasoned artists like Elton John, Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton & B.B. King, Dave Stewart and Keith Jarett to talented young musicians like Finn Andrews, Salvador Sobral, ARY and Leanne de Havas. Some of the singles reflect the time we’re living in, referring both to the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic.
Body of Light/Wide Winged Bird – Finn Andrews
Where We Wanne Be – Dadi Freyr
Where Do the Children Play? – Yousif/Cat Stevens
What Would You Do For Love? – Ulrikke
Wake Up Romeo – Caro Emerald
Tu mi delirio – Salvador Sobral & Alma Nuestra
Try Love – Dan Wilson
That Time This Time – VanWyck
Take It With Me – Vaarin
Summer Sun – Hooverphonic
Storm Came – Dave Stewart & Thomas Lindsay
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ – Eric Clapton & B.B. King
Playground Love – Thomas Dutronc & Youn Sun Nah
People – Ian Shaw Italian Quartet
Oh My God/Kakofoni – ARY
Mister Holland – Gregory Porter
Little Voice – Sara Bareilles
Learn to Fly – Surfaces & Elton John
Just the Two of Us – Rhiannon Giddens & Sxip Shirey
I Remember Everything – John Prine
I Feel You – Claudia Koval & Bill Cantos
God natt Oslo – Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
A Ghost – Travis
Get Get On – Maya Fadeeva & Club des Belugas
From Paris With Love – Melody Gardot
For My Love – Saint Saviour
Bittersweet& Can’t Fight – Lianne La Havas
Answer Me – Keith Jarett
2020 Riots: How Many Times – Trey Songz
2020 – Ben Folds
The Moody Blues were way too suave for 12-year-old me in 1969, but as I grew a bit older I discovered them through this particular album. It was my first encounter with a concept album, where one track segued into the next and formed a whole. I found the album a bit eerie, with a mysterious opening, including poet reading, but I came to love many of the songs, like Dear Diary and Lazy Day in particular. And it changed my perception of what pop music was about.