Is it a coincidence, or is it a fact that female artists produce considerably more interesting music these days? Part of it could be me, I admit, if pushed I tend to prefer female voices to male voices. But I don’t think it is down to personal preference; women seem to excel in many musical genres, they are bolder, freer and less likely to follow the pied pipers. Not that I don´t have male artists in this month’s list; Tom Chaplin, Benjamin Clementine, Metteson and Michael Head are out with excellent new music, and my classic album of the month includes the very, very, very deep voice of Lee Hazlewood. And – 50 years ago David Ziggy Stardust Bowie crept up the charts. So there’s some kind of balance there. Still,at least for this entry, women rule….
Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.
Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviews from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.
You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.
Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.
Sample Track: The Perfect Pair
Bea Kristi just turned 23 years old. On her second album she has har glaze backwards, to the pop music even before her birth. This is easy, accessable pop, performed with a voice imitating (?) innocence and vulnerability. Beatopia was Bea’s secret kingdom when she was little and had to move from the US to London.
Sample Track: American Kid
Michael Head has been around a bit longer than Bea Kristi. He debuted in 1981, and although he never reached superfame, he has always been there, either as a solo artist or with his bands Shack and The Pale Fountains. Dear Scott has the assurance that only an artist who don’t have to mark his territory any more can produce. This is mature rockn’roll and pop.
Sample Track: Firearm
Back to the Tiktok generation and young Lizzy McAlpine, out with her second album and her first step into musical maturity. Because McAlpine is more than silly dance videos, she knows how to play with words and dress them perfectly in music tailorfit to describing her sometimes ironic and oh-so-personal stories about young love life.
Sample Track: Newspaper Girl
The Queen of Brazilian Jazz is back, 80 years old, with a inspired new album together with her daughter Diana. She was 65 when she last released a new album, so If you will is truly an occasion. If you like Brazilian-infused jazz, this album is «gefundenes fressen», if you’re new to the rhythms of South America, you may be in for a treat.
Sample Track: King of Country Music
On to one of this months most interesting and impressive albums, from New Zealand’s diva Tami Neilson. Kingmaker is a mixture of sultry ballads and roots-inspired tracks, at times drifting into country music like our classic artists of the month, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood perfected. I have listened to this album all month and haven’t tired yet.
Sample Track: Plastic Off the Sofa
I guess superdiva Beyoncé’s new album is best listened to on the dance floor, bursting as it is with energy, sensuality and musicality. As I mostly stay off the dance floors of the world these days, I still enjoy the richness and creativity of RENAISSANCE from my easy chair.
Sample Track: Little Earl
I don’t know if country soul is a musical genre, but if it is, The Delines, is defintely among the better representatives. The relaxed but impressionable voice of Amy Boone carries the short stories from main songwriter Willy Vlautin so well. The sound of The Delines makes me feel that everything is well with the world, although the lyrics sometimes tell me otherwise.
Sample Track: The Challenge
Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac superfame released an album with Lindsay Buckingham last year that was among the musical hightlights of the year. Her retrospective new album offers only two new songs, the rest is new recordings of her solo releases. That doesn’t make Songbird any worse.
Sample Track: Horses
Surrender from Maggie Rogers is full of zest and energy. She doesn’t look inwards, she belches out both in lyrics and in vocal performance. This is only her second album, but the deserved attention she gets indicates this is an artist who will stay in the limelight for a long time.
Sample Track: Lighthouse
Although I am impressed with Maggie Rogers, Dubstar and front woman Sarah Blackwood appeal even more to the heart. Yes, it is a bit 90s retro – not that I miss that decade so much – but it is the non stop good feeling that their music creates, hummable, with a constant Britpop beat to keep you going.
Sample Track: Balancing the Scales
Few have missed the controversy surrounding Barlow & Bear’s so-called unofficial musical based on the Netflix series Bridgerton. It started out as a kind of David & Goliath moment, with Goliath viewing David as innocent and harmless. But when Barlow & Bear took the concept out of TikTok and out in the real world. Netflix was not amused anymore. Although the music sounds a bit like a parady on a contemporary musical – and perhaps was meant to be just that, I can’t but be impressed with the quality of the project.
Lots of interesting releases this month, both A-sides and B-sides of singles please the outer and inner ear. I have added new music from Billie Eilish, Benjamin Clementine, Manhattan Transfer, Röyksopp, Tom Chaplin and Chaka Kahn, among others. But listen to them all, they’re all in the list for a good reason.
Sample Track: Elusive Dreams
This a strange partnership, which for me brings back many childhood memories. My older brothers didn’t own many albums; in the sixties singles rocked; but the Nancy & Lee LP was on the turntable constantly. I got used to hearing the two unlikely voices singing together, with a full-blown orchestra in the background and a sound that never came back after the sixties. Revisiting this universe now, almost sixty years later, was a great thrill.
Can you believe it is 50 years ago? David Bowie didn’t only record this album, he created a complete alter ego in Ziggy Stardust, and we all bought into it. It was so different and wild and out-of-this-world that it started a life-long relationship with Bowie, even when he turned into himself again. The album is among the best glam rock albums ever, so much better than what came from his arch rival T. Rex. And while Marc Bolan’s career ebbed out, Bowie’s never stopped growing. Finally, a fun fact. The cover photo was taken in a side street of Regent’s Street in London. For a while in the 1990s when I was producing a children’s series there, I had a desk in the building next door, looking down at the iconic corner, and not knowing until much later how iconic it actually was.