Gazing Back

Although there are some very-much-contemporary-2023-albums and tracks in this month’s blog playlist, I realize that there is an unprecedented amount of musical back gazing as well, even from contemporary artists like Måneskin and The Lemon Twigs.

Maybe it is not so unprecedented. Artists have always been inspired by more than their contemporary peers. Still, the music business has changed, (for the worst in my opinion – sorry), since Elton John released his dazzling Piano Player album 50 (!) years ago. Would he have been able to have it released today? Would it have become first a hit, then a classic? My guess is that it would have been released, but I doubt it would have found its way into every playlist in the world, like it did in 1973. It is not 2023-mainstream enough.

Nostalgia is not only an unhealthy craving for the past. It is also a sign of an arid present. Still, there are oases to be found.

Welcome to this month’s playlist.

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.

Gabi Hartmann
Gabi Hartmann

French chanteuse Gabi Hartmann follows in the tradition of many, performing songs in a wide spectre of genres – and in many languages. Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot and Zaz ought to watch out.


American singer Samia follows in the footsteps of other contemporary artists as well, the likes of Billie Eilish, with very personal lyrics and a sad voice. Still, there is something quite original in Samia’s music, some of the arrangements are bordering on being a capella, and a true vulnerability shines through to the listener.

I Love a Love Song!
Rachael & Vilray
40s & 50s retro

There are retro music and there’s Rachael & Vilray who recreate the music of the 30s, 40s and 50s to a tee. And nearly all songs are written today by Vilray Bolles himself, even more impressive, because the duo and the exquisite studio musicians make it sound as if we’ve dug out old 78s and played them on granny’s gramophone.

Late Developers
Belle & Sebastian

The Scottish indie-band Belle & Sebastian keeps on surprising, with an uncanny ability to turn out great pop songs again and again. They’ve been at it since the 1990s, and on Late Developers they sound fresher and more energetic than ever.

The Loneliest Time
Carly Rae Jepsen

Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen is back with a truly contemporary pop album (and from my first paragraph you know that’s not only a compliment…) But as with Samia above, there is a certain amount of zest and originality in some of the tracks, and a lust for life feeling to the music. I think I have picked some tracks you may like.

Ingrid Jasmin

If it is originality you want, go no further. The mix of Costa Rican/Spanish/Norwegian background gives us an artist who sound as if she is experimenting, but all she does is dip into her own gene pool and drag out a wonderful mix of flamenco, world music and Norwegian folk.


Is it possible to build a career on an ESC win? Absolutely. ABBA did it. And Italian band Måneskin try to do the same. This is their second album after the win, a rock’n’roll purist dream.

Tine Thing Helseth &
Ensamble Allegria

I keep my promise to include a classical album every month. Tine Thing Helseth is a trumpet player, releasing a soft spoken album with some evocative tracks of old and new compositions. An album to fall asleep to – in a good way – far away from marching bands and fanfares that many of you may think about when you see and hear a trumpet.

Songs Without Jokes
Bret McKenzie

Bret McKenzie was part of the duo Flight of the Conchords, who you may remember from the hilarious television series with the same name. Now Bret is back, without the comedy and his partner. We are left with an exquisite and well crafted pop album that doesn’t make you laugh.

Only eight singles made the list this month, but your listening pleasure will not be harmed. Listen to Grammy winner Samara Joy, John Lennon’s talented son, The Lemon Twigs with a song that won’t leave your head anytime soon, plus many more.

Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player
Elton John

Re-listening to Elton John’s 50 year old album brought a ton of memories back to me. But it also proved again what an amazing songwriter Elton is, together with his partner Bernie Taupin. Elton reached his creative peak this particular year, the first of two peaks – his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was just as amazing. I might come back to that later.

The Commitments
The Commitments

How can you match Elton’s album? Well, a different kind of classic was the soundtrack of Alan Parker’s The Commitments, perhaps the best music film ever. An unforgettable story with a soundtrack that rekindled the interest in Soul and Blues for a completely new audience. Andrew Strong was the shining star. Mustang Sally and Try a Little Tenderness became evergreens once more.

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