Welcome to a new year and to new music found hidden away in the great Spotify vault, mostly among the 20% rarely listened to. I am hunting what I consider great music from artists who are not necessarily on either top 40 lists or focused on by elitist reviewers. (Although occasionally I agree with the reviewers and/or the radio playlists makers, I have to admit…).
Thank you to those of you who give me feedback both on choices and with suggestions, that is so helpful! Some of you have asked me to add more classical music, and as of this month you will find at least one new album from the world of classical. I will also try to add genre to the description of each album, although not every artist is possible to pin down like that, so don’t take the generes too literary – and give albums a chance even if these are labeled with a genre you don’t normally listen to. These albums are in the list for a reason.
I will save some time in preparation by skipping sample tracks for each album and instead add a link directly to the album (Click on the cover) . I have also added covers to the singles, hope you like that.
My column of albums from 50 years ago moves on to 1973, another vintage year.
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 albums reviewed by clicking on the covers.
Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.
This is a genre I like, but struggle to find great new music. Luke Thomas is a good crooner, but the album has its faults. I have picked som great tracks for the playlist, though.
Polish cellist Maciej Kulakowski performs beautiful pieces by Debussy and Poulenc, but the most interesting part is the cello versions of some of the loveliest pieces ever written for the piano, Gnossiennes by Eric Satie. I still prefer the piano versions, but Kulakowski adds another layer to the music with his cello.
Anna of the North is rightly so from the North, in Gjøvik, Norway. There is very little craziness her, more like cool and summery, I would say. This is easy and uncomplicated pop, but still with a bit of soul.
Finally, Gilbert O’Sullivan is back! Not that he hasn’t released music since his heyday in the 70s, but most of the 15+ albums since then has been a bit disappointing. With Driven he shows off his quality, arguably among his best albums ever. I was really taken back to the first three albums and recognized the playfulness and song writing creativity from these classics. He is 75 now, just comes to prove that if you stay at it long enough….
Last blog list included the classic piano jazz album from Jan Johanson, an album that introduced jazz to a wider audience. If you enjoyed what you heard, you will most likely enjoy this evocative and oh so beautiful album from bassist Terje Gewelt and his pals.
This is rare album to be released these days, an instrumental album like we haven’t really heard since Mike Oldfield, Santana and others who made soundscapes, and played with and developed musical themes. This is as much a producer’s album as a musical artist’s.
Josephine Oniyama is a powerful singer-songwriter who made waves a decade ago with her first releases. Now she’s back with equally powerful songs that hits you with force. She jumps between different genres, but her songs are still easy to recognize as truly hers.
Jay-Jay Johanson was on my top 10 list in 2021, his alluring voice, ever interesting rhythms and contemporary productions are something I keep coming back to. I was disappointed by his 2022 cover album Silver Screen, but now all is forgiven. He is definitely best when he performs his own stuff.
Talk about an alluring voice: another great crooner is Paal Flaata, lead singer of Midnight Choir. This is a quite dark and introvert collection, but nevertheless sincere and powerful. The album is mostly filled with covers, but Flaata makes these familiar (and some unfamiliar) songs his own.
Norwegian band Woodheads has released a wonderful album, bringing the rock and pop sounds of 80s and 90s back to life. The album has a fresh live sound to it, as if you are in concert with these guys. The songwriting is equally fresh with no frills.
One of the best latin jazz singers and pianists in the world, Eliane Elias, is out with a new album, this time with more guitars than piano, which in a way quiets down the music to fit with the album title. Elias’ voice is like a massage on the ear drums.
I wouldn’t recommend listening to Japanese Joji if you’re in the middle of a break-up, it will only make it worse. This is not in any way talking this beautiful album down, Joji is an artist with his emotions on the outside, but he is also a skilled singer and songwriter. If you’re listening for Eastern influence on the album, you’re listening in vain.
Is it possible to have a career after (almost) winning Eurovision. Sam Ryder is trying hard and he may just succed. This is a fun and likeable album with one song after another with hit potential. Unfortunately, the producers are overdoing his falsettos, pouring on lyrics filled with platitudes, but particularly the quieter songs are beautiful and well worth listening to. When you have reached space, Sam, get rid of the cool producers and create even more of your own sound.
Some Scandinavian reviewers are trying to coin a new genre, Nordicana, as opposed to Americana. The main difference would only be geographical, a point proven by Norwegian singer Signe Marie Rustad. Her new EP sounds and feels like the best of Americana, down-to-earth, accoustic and silky. Absolutely worth listening to whether your’re in or outside the U.S.
Lots of new singles out, many artists are dipping their toes in the water to see whether you are ready for their upcoming album releases. Great to see – and hear – Beverley Craven, Susanna Hoffs, Mariza, Cigarettes After Sex and William Hut back in the ring.
All tracks are in this month’s blog playlist, or you can click on the singlecover to listen to each one separately.
Melanie Safka may not have liked me to present Garden in the City as a classic album, since it was released against her will by the record company she had just left. But for me this is a true classic, an album I came back to again and again, both to the wonderful covers, like Dylan’s Lay, Lady, Lay and Gershwin’s Somebody Loves Me, and all the original songs written by Melanie. Her voice is mesmerizing and inimitable, making Melanie one of the greatest folk singers of all time.
Can you believe this record is 50 years old? It is still so fresh, with classics like The Right Thing to Do and what is maybe the bst pop song of all time, You’re so Vain. The mystery still lives on of who is the subject of the song. Mick Jagger was for a long time suspect # 1 (and he actually did participate on the record as a back-up singer), but later actor Warren Beatty seems to be the main suspect.
As an afterthought, I wish some of the contemporary female singers would lend their ears to Carly Simon’s effortless and expressive singing style, we would avoid all the horrible sobs and vocal leaps and trills that we are being pestered with today (yes, I am old and grumpy, but I am right.)