Paul McCartney & Wings met their critics ,who argued that all substance had vanished from Macca’s music, by writing and performing a homage to the love song, Silly Love Songs, that has become on of the classic love songs of all time (listened to more than 65 million times on Spotify alone).
The song popped up in my head when preparing for this month’s blog playlist, because love is still the #1 ingredient in so much of contemporary music, inspiring the pop geniuses and the hit seekers alike. Perhaps we the audience need the love song more than ever, countering the sorry state of things around us.
So lower your guard and let the love flow, from the brilliant classic albums I have added this month to our annual look at the best of Eurovision – to a revival of the romantic composer Chopin.
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.
Be the Wheel – Theo Katzman & 10 Good Songs
Californian Theo Katzmann knows how to write a song, and on his new album he has almost overdone himself, one catchy pop song after another, and with a clean backing track letting his voice and his lyrics dominate.
Bouquet Champêtre – Fleur
We are in a time capsule, taken back to the French chanson tradition of the 1960s by young Dutch singer Fleur. This bouquet of flowers is charming throughout, catchy tunes with just the right nostalgic touch.
Chopin: Piano Works – Anastasia Yasko
Frédéric Chopin wrote some of the most wonderful piano music ever composed. Young Russian pianist Anastasia Yasko, now reciding in Austria, has picked some of the (for me) lesser known pieces. Yasko makes thise beautiful and imaginative pieces come to life.
Desire, I Want To Turn Into You – Caroline Polachek
Competent vocalist Caroline Polachek has released an amazing collection, bursting with energy, imagination and variety. Although she has herself contributed to artists churning out bland contemporary pop music, there is nothing remotely bland on this album.
Gullokk – Solveig Slettahjell
One of jazz’ finest contemporary vocalists, Norwegian Solveig Slettahjell, has released a collection of cross-over songs, from Grieg to Swedish folk songs, and even for listeners who can’t understand the lyrics, I must assume ther beauty of the music and her velvety voice must send shivers down the spine of every listener. Another album that proves that there is no need to pour heavy arrangements on artists and songs that can handle the beauty of nakedness.
Living It Up – The Real Thing
A few months back I introduced The Real Think’s 90s album as a true classic. Now they’re back, sadly missing some band members, but with substitutions that really fits in with the groove of the remaining members. I know jazz isn’t for everybody, but I find it hard to understand those who can’t find anything enjoyable in this foot-thumping exercise.
Rainbow & Monsters – Maggie
Maggie is a Norwegian-Serbian young singer, releasing her first EP, some good and powerful pop songs, a bit on the bland side, but that goes for many new artists that tends to copy what they hear from the top 40s of the world. Still there is something extra on Rainbows & Monsters that lifts the collection a bit above the rest.
The Reset – Macy Gray & The California Jet Club
The actor, activist and musician Macy Gray has been with us for decades. With her new album The Reset she has brought her activism with her into her music in more ways than one. The themes of the songs are at times political statements, including the album cover – she has argued for a redesign of the American flag, by adding colours to the stars and adding two more, for Washington DC and Puerto Rico. It is a terrific and thought-provoking album.
Strange Dance – Philip Selway
Radiohead’s drummer Philip Selway has many strengths as a songwriter and lyricist, but not necessarily as a singer. As with another famous drummer in a famous band, Selway deserves, like Ringo (and here ends the comparison), to be listened to. Strange Dance offers many sad love songs with beautiful arrangements.
Voice Notes – Yazmin Lacey
Yasmin Lacey’s music is hard to pin down. She effortlessly jumps between genres and mesmerizes us with her peculiar but interesting voice, with funny, quiky lyrics and interesting musical leaps.
I am offering you a true smorgasboard of singles this month, many of the with a promise of new music soon to come.
So, readers and listeners, back to the annual exercise of listening to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entries. I am not apologizing for taking you on this trip, because every year there are songs there that may not win – probably won’t win – but may be worth listening to anyway. This year there are no obvious winner, although both Sweden and Ukraine seem to be favourites. Loreen from Sweden takes part with a song that might become a hit, the rest will probably not make it even as far as the final. My slight personal favourite is Austria, with a quirky song about Edgar Allen Poe (!).
PS. I should tell you that I listen to all songs without knowing which country they represented, so no bias here…DS.
Painted From Memory – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach
Not too long ago we received the sad news that Burt Bacharach has left us for good. His catalogue of songs is nothing less than remarkable, perhaps only Paul McCartney can match him in the history of pop music. His unlikely collaboration with Elvis Costello marks in my view the peak of his career. There is not one weak composition om Painted From Memory from 1998, this is pure brilliance. Any emerging songwriter should spend a week deciphering every single track, because song writing never gets better than this. I will never tire of this album.
Billion Dollar Babies – Alice Cooper
50 years ago, in 1973, record buyers made this album go to #1. Many albums from this era still stay with us, hopefully Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies is not one of them. The truth is I never bought into his weird universe; it is all a sham if you ask me. But to stay true to my promise to give you an historical lesson of what occurred back then, I have carefully picked a few tracks that a remotely playable even in 2023.