In the same way the pandemeic influenced popular music in 2020 and 2021, I suspect the outrageous attack by Russia on Ukraine has made an impact on recent albums, not only directly, like Deutsche Grammofon’s lovely tribute to Ukrainean classical music, but also in a more subtle way. I seed to detect a more recilienct feel to a lot of music, through both reflection and defiance. Then again, normalcy is also a kind of recilience, giving the agressors the finger by going on with our lives unaffected. Whatever the inspiration, hopefully you’ll find new favourites and happy memories in the playlist I have concocted for you this month.
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: Sonar Otra Vez
Guatemalan born American singer Gaby Moreno has with her seventh album given us a smorgasbord of an album, so varied and surprising that it is almost impossible to pinpoint to any genre or style. Of course she is primarily influenced by South American music, new and old, but she also dives into a number of other genres on this fabolous collection of personal songs.
Sample Track: Pepper
American band Death Cab for Cutie has been around for more than 25 years, long enough to have heavily influenced the indie music genre more than many other bands. Their new album sticks with the formula that has given them success before, maybe even more confident and polished than when they started. Highly enjoyable!
Sample Track: Panier Su La Tête, ni chanté
Rosemary Stendley is a recent new favourite vocalist of mine, the versatile singer who knows no musical boundaries and has released both classical, jazz and folk music for our enjoyment. On Déliryom she cooperates with Marjolaine Karlin to make something as peculiar as a an album based on the poetry of Reunionese poet Alain Péters. The album brings a much needed sense of constant surprise and freshness, even though I am unable to enjoy the lyrics that inspired it in the first place.
Sample Track: Ovule
Few artists has made a more lasting first impression on me than Björk, I was thoroughly shooked and shocked by her insisting, sorrowful voice. Her first international album, Debut, is still among my all-time favourites (you’ll probably will be reacquainted with it in a future post…) But Björk has moved forward faster than I have, and it has for some time been difficult for me to follow her development into more and more (at least for me) inaccessible musical landscapes. Fossora is no different; still I can’t be anything but intrigued by her compositions, surprising rhythms and musical arrangements. I have made a daring pick of tracks for you, please listen with an open mind.
Sample Track: Nigel the Gannet
You should expect something completely different from a band called The Burning Hell than what they are serving you. Garbage Island is a funny, perky album of songs about god knows what, sea birds and ska bands and beaches and ornithologists. Maybe you’ll love it, for who can hate songs starting with «They’ve all been making plans for Nigel, and by them I mean the ornithologists”, Nigel being a gannet…and it goes on from there, into looney land.
Sample Track: Time
The Jazz Butcher is Pat Fish, a British poet and singer, who sadly died last year. The Highest in the Land, his last album, was recorded up to his death. He left a great colelction for us to enjoy, witty, absurd, but always interesting, both musically and lyrically. Fish made no apologies for his lifestyle nor his music, and was razor sharp one moment and hopelessly romantic the next moment. From such a mind comes great music. He sums it all in the brilliant track Time.
Sample Track: In Real Life
If you’re in a lean back mode, dig out Mandy Moore’s In Real Life. This is harmless pop from romcom actress Moore, without being bland and uninteresting. The songs are all well crafted and impeccably performed.
Sample Track: Melody
I expect all compositions on the Music for Ukraine were made long before Putin’s cowardly attack on the country in February, still with the war as a backdrop, the music makes the skin cringe, reflecting a beautiful land and a recilient people. It is a bit sad that it would take a war to bring this beauty of an album to us, but now that it is here for us all to listen to, enjoy it and let it inspire us to never forget and never stop supporting Ukraine.
Sample Track: Punus
78-year old reggae idol Jimmy Cliff is back with what you might call a modern reggae album, but safely secured within the genre. Cliff continues to give us music inspired by social consciousness, still simple and accessible, sometimes even a bit naive and too simplistic for my taste.
Sample Track: Estrada Dividia
Salvador Sobral could possibly have been one of the world’s most famous crooners by now, following his astounding win in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with Amar Pelois Dois, if he had started just to record in English, with the powerful international music industry building him up. Instead, he has refused to follow that route, and has continued to record in Portuguese and consistently followed his musical heart. Now he has released an EP of ballads with his own piano playing as the only accompaniment. The music is so beautiful it hurts. I experenced Sobral in concert two years ago, and it still stands as one of the greatest concert experiences of my life. We were 1500 people present. We haven’t told another soul.
Sample Track: Call It a Trend
Female solo guitarist Tora Dahle Aagård’s band TORA is out with a new jazz/blues/pop/funk album. Tora is not only a great guitarist, but also a sensitive vocalist, and she puts a mark on all these tracks. Without that mark this may have been too much of what we have heard before on similar albums by similar bands. But Tora has added the necessary ingredient to make it palpable: herself.
Sample Track: A Drowning in Mexico City
Kenyan born Ondara reminds me so much of folk singers like Dan Fogelberg and Gordon Lightfoot, with his highly emotional voice. Ondara’s music could easily have fit in with their catalogues as well. Spanish Villager No 3., is a kind of concept album, a travel from city to city all around the world, while sticking to a similar musical formula throughout.
Sample Track: Where Have You Been
I think all releases by Norwegian artist Mimmi (last name Tamba) has been impressive and enjoyable. I wish many more would discover this amazing singer. Perhaps with this album, there seems to be some kind of breakthough, a greater number of reviews, most very positive. Like mine, here. There is so much talent, such versatility both in performance and composing.
Sample Track: Colours
Pianist and composer Alexis Ffrench is something so rare as a soul and classical musician. His cross-over music obviously appeals to both classical connoiseurs and lovers of contempoary romantic piano music.
Delighted – Benjamin Clementine
For What It’s Worth – Stevie Nicks
My Suitcase and Me – Anneli Drecker & Ketil Bjørnstad
Nobody’s Sweetheart – Caitlin Rose
Really Wanting You – Stephen Bishop
Você e Eu (You and I) – Eliane Elias
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now – MIKA
Sample Track: Melody Motel
Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook are Squeeze. Well, many others, including Jools Holland could proudly call themselves band members, but most of the irreverent, fun, catchy music came from the duo. This is music to wake up to and stay awake with, rarely dance music, but just music that gets me going on the dreariest of days. Frank from 1989 wasn’t their biggest hit, in fact, the record company kicked them out after the release, but I love every track, and has made the difficult choices – if you like what you hear, listen to the whole album, in fact listen to everyting else these two boys and their play friends released.
Sample Track: Superstition
Multi-talented artist Stevie Wonder had a great year in 1973, 50 years ago. He first released the album Music of My Mind and soon after Talking Book. This is not so much a classic album as it is an album with lots of songs that have become classic, like You Are the Sunshine of My Life and Superstition. Single releases kept the album popular for more than a year. Stevie Wonder had discovered the synthesizer, using it as a second voice on tracks like Superstition.