It is August, summer is ebbing away, and we go from chirpy and/or sobbing dancing queens, products of and with roots in the 90s, to artists and music with considerably longer roots, back to the origins of popular music.
I feel more at home there, and if you do, too, you have a lot of superb music to look forward to in my new list, including my classic pick of the month, one of my favourite albums of all time.
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
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame has replaced Annie Lennox with blues singer Thomas Lindsey, creating a totally unique sound, with roots dug deep into the ground of Louisiana folk music. The songs are all written by the duo, though, timeless and at the same time contemporary.
«Is there nothing Father John Misty cannot do?» muses a fan online, and with this small collection of covers, you may well wonder, because here are respectful albeit refreshing versions of classic from Cohen, Cat Stevens and Link Wray. Readers of this blog know what a fan I am of the Father, but if you have missed out on his original material, make a note to self on what you are going to listen to in the coming days. No way around it.
For those of you with particularly good eyesight, the list on the cover of Dion’s collection is a most impressive one. But it is no surprise all of these legends want to play with Dion, who turned 80 recently. He is truly a master of his craft. The rawness of his voice is still there, and he can still write music that sounds as if it has been around for decades. It hasn’t.
Dan Reeder sounds as if he’s 105. He’s 66. He sounds as if he’s recorded it all himself at home with instruments he has built himself. He has. And despite of that this is great music, funny, quirky, warm and wise. Makes one believe in humanity again.
It gives hope when an 87-year old artist at that age takes on the project of releasing 5 – five – albums with favorite songs mirroring his current state of mind. This is the third, so we may get two more – It is also the 70th studio album from the Methuselah aka Willie Nelson.
People are getting so angry! Imagine recording an album that just doesn’t sound like anything you have done before! No Swedish producers, but free, heartfelt music that doesn’t sound sophisticated, but clean all the more true. I will admit that some of the album is more introvert that I can take, but Taylor Swift has gone out on a limb, and I commend her for it. So don’t listen to the critics, give it a go.
Thomas Dutronc is an incredible guitar player in the Django Reinhardt tradition, but he can sing, too, and he knows his classics, particularly those coming out of or inspired by his native France. This is a fun, irreverant album, bringing very little new to the table, but who cares. Pure enjoyment and my feet are tapping without stopping.
Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde have been around for so long they are easily labelled legendary. Which they dereve. Still, this is «only» their 11th studio album. The sting is still there, though, remnants of punk, and Pretenders of 2020 offer bite as they did when they started. Very little mellowness to be found. Turn down the sound of your ear pods. Or up.
Teddy Thompson is the son of Linda and Richard Thompson, Britain’s legendary (there it is again) folk singers, and it is easy to recognize the roots in his contemporary, New York made music. (He left Britain for America at 18) There is something timeless and melodic here, that makes Heartbreaker Please worth listening to.
Charlie Dore was an overnight success in 1979, releasing Pilot of the Airways, a song you occasionally still hear on retro radio stations. But few people followed her career after that. Instead of becoming a one-hit wonder, she released wonderful, folk albums with terrific songs, sore and personal, funny and witty. Like Animals is a wonderful example of what she can do. It is not Top 40 stuff. Thank god.
French-American Francesca Blanchard is out with her second album of indie singer-songwriter music. I don’t expect many of the tracks from Make It Better will be played on Top 40 stations either. The songs need time to do their work, but after a while they stick in your mind. Blanchard sings and writes with sincerity, humour and skill.
One of the most peculiar duos around, creators of their own musical style, toytronica, is out with another playful and oh-so- carefully constructed album, Tourists. It seems there are nothing that can’t consitute an instrument in Psapp’s world, still they create music worth listening to, melodic, playful and fun. And some of it downright weird.
Sometimes I get the feeling Rufus Wainwright is too talented for his own good. Some of the operatic stuff he’s released has felt inaccessible to me, but this time he has made an album filled to the brim with accessible music, and within a musical territory I feel at home in. He as a remarkable songwriter, and his voice is rich and expressive.
I have been waiting patiently for new material from artists like Kristina Train, The Mummers , David Gilmour and Billie Eilish. My patience has been temporarily rewarded, with new singles from them, hopefully signalling upcoming albums. All singles below are integrated in the list on Spotify.
Alright – VICTORIA
AmAm – Secko Keita
Eleanor – Red Rum Club
Falle frå jorda – Daniel Kvammen
Forever Alone – Kakkmaddafakka
Her Love – narou iris
I’m not Here – Paul Armfield
Keep ‘em on They Toes – Brent Cobb
Let’s Be Friends – Pink Martini
A Love Like That – Katie Melua
My future – Billie Eilish
No Place Like Home – The Mummers & Sifu
Oh Berlin – Nerina Pallot
Pools – Natalie Duncan
Schwanengesang – Rosemary Standley & Ensemble Contrast
We the People – Kristina Train
Yes, I Have Ghosts – David Gilmour
Paul McCartney’s second solo album, and the last before the creation of Wings, stands out as the living proof of McCartney’s genius. In my mind there is not a single weak track on this album. Ram made me an eternal fan of both McCartney and of The Beatles. Being born in 1957 I came to earth a few years too late to follow the rise of the Fab Four in real time, but I was still close enough to easily catch up. And I did.
Why is this such a classic album? Obviously, Ram plays an important role in the history of The Beatles, but for me it is the playfulness, the harmonies, the wealth of instruments used, McCartney’s lead voice at times tender, other times the great rock’n’roll singer, Linda’s harmonies, the unsurpassed songwriting, the segues from one song to another – and tracks that I haven’t tired of to this day.