The Times They Are A-changin’

«How much have changed and how little have changed», writes David Byrne in his terrific, insightful book «How Music Works», describing popular music’s evolution. So, even if Bob Dylan’s «The Times They Are A-changin'» is released in new, shining armour in Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 2021 version, it is still the same same tough inside. I hope this blog post and the updated Petter’s Short List bear witness to both all the changes and at the same time how much stay the same.


Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020 and 2021….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full.

Collapsed in Sunbeams –
Arlo Parks

Arlo Parks of Hammersmith, London, is barely 20 years old, and her debut album made it to the top on hit lists all over the world this year. Her original, contemporary sound is innocent and sensuous at the same time, her skillful voice rolls so effortlessly across the melodies. You want to glide around the room while listening, at least in your mind.

Dark Hearts –

Annie Strand is more than twice the age of Arlo Parks, but she has a similar innocence in her voice, but her music is considerably more stringent. Still, this is synth-pop as good as it is possible to make it. It is rarely boring and repetitive. I never expected to like this, but there is something mature and world accustomed about these pop tunes, they snuggle up to you and refuse to let you escape. Annie has only released four albums since debuting around the turn of the century. Sometimes it pays off to take your time.

Going to Hell –
Lande Hekt

Back to youth, but this time to garage band music more than silky contemporary pop. Lande Hekt is a young British artist who focuses as much on her opinionated lyrics as on the music. She writes what she feels, surpisingly more politcal than what we get from young artists today, personal and gritty.

Hand Me Down –
Kate Rusby

Songs are handed down through generations, claims folk singer Kate Rusby. So why wait too long? She has rerecorded some of the songs she grew up with from the 80s and forward, instead of diving into the traditional song book. Rusby has got an interesting take on the songs, classics that you probably know very well already. She doen’t actually give them a folk sound, rather she softens the songs, even the up-tempo tracks. Listen, and you may understand what I mean. At times it borders on being uninteresting and a bit dull, but mostly it is sweet and touching, like praise of a friend.

Home –

In December last year I made you listen to Sade’s classic album, Diamond Life. There is a lot of Sade in Michael Milosh and his band Rhye (or is it his alternate persona Rhye?), smooth, andrygenous, funky and silky, music always on the move. This is sophisticated pop with remnants of jazz and soul.

Jacobean Chill –
Jacob Collier

The Guardian has already named Jacob Collier as jazz’ new Messiah, which must be quite daunting for a 26-year old. The EP Jacobian Chill is clearly a side project for him, but should not be overlooked. This is such an elaborate piece of work, with the lushest of harmonies and melodies. It is chill, yes, but it brings memories of the harmonies of Queen (more of that later) and perhaps Laura Mvula, perhaps Manhattan Transfer, and it keeps surprising at every turn – even as your’re chilling.

No Place –
Danielle Durack

Arizona singer Danielle Durack has written what is labelled as a breakup album. Perhaps so, but for me this is delicate indie music, not all of it interesting, but enough pleasing tracks to make it into my blog list this month.

Nothinh Gold Can Stay –
Jimi Somewhere

There’s a Norwegian dialect term, «gammalt fydde», old born, that comes to mind when I listen to young Jimi Somewhere, because there is nostalgia in his music, even though it so clearly is contemporary and coming from a young artist. There is also melancholy in even his most up tempo songs, or maybe I am just being thrown off by the sadness in Jimi’s voice.

Not Your Muse –

With this album Celeste became the first British female artist in five years to have a number one debut album on the British album charts. And deservedly so. I introduced you to her in the last blog list, with the single A Little Love. Celeste is an exceptionally talented songwriter, and even though one might grow tired of the sweet naivité of her voice, there is enough variation on this album that I keep wanting more. A timeless album, I dare argue.

Roasut – ISÁK

Sami band ISÁK from Norway continues to impress with their world pop music, with lyrics both in Sami and in English. In the centre of the soundscape is Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen and her expressive voice.

Roses in Neurosis – Sivert Høyem

Staying in Northern Norway and with expressive voices: Sivert Høyem, lead singer of Madrugada, is out with an EP of magic proportions, so powerful and yet so gentle. It is easy to say that it is all in Sivert’s deep voice, but the songs are impeccable craftmanship as well.

Under A Mediterranean Sky –
Steve Hackett

Even old rockers mellow with age. Steve Hackett of Genesis fame is out with another accoutic solo album, inspired by his interest in music from all sides of the Mediterranean. Some of the tracks become too mellow for my taste, but Hackett shows how to work a guitar and how to find musical gems and make them your own.

There is truly a little bit of everything in this month’s single list! Good old Christopher Cross of Arthur movie fame is back, as is Noel Gallagher, Don McLean, David Bowie and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. There are great songs that didn’t succeed in European Song Contest and even a piece by Jean-Philippe Rameu, written in the beginning of the 1700s. And that’s not half of it. Enjoy!

American Pie – Home Free & Don McLean

Build a Fire – Adam Douglas

Coming Home – River

Evan – Elise Le Grow

Gammel mann – Morten Abel

I Can’t Escape – IMERIKA

i dunno love – Rikke Normann

I Put a Spell on You – Brandi Carlile & Renée Elise Goldsberry

Just One Kiss – Imelda May & Noel Gallagher

King Of Letting Go – Sondre Lerche

Love Me When I Go to Sleep – Steady Holiday

Mary Ann – Christopher Cross

Moving Men – Myd & Mac De Marco

new year’s in paris – Francesca Blanchard

Nostalgi – Jørgen Krøger Mathisen & Karoline Wallace

Own Yourself – Dinaye

The Arts and the Hours – Vikingur Ólafsson

Skyll på mig – Bo Sundström

Sounds of Then (This is Australia) – Sarah Blasko

Tá’n Tádh Liom – Rónan Ó Snodaigh

The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Roseanne Cash, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell & The War and Treaty

Try! – Airelle Besson, Benjamin Moussay & Fabrice Moreau

Tryin’ To Get To Heaven/Mother – David Bowie

Was It Just Me – Douwe Bob

Witch Woods – EMMY

Wonderful Surprise – Zerrin Özer

A Night at the Opera –

Every month I try to put together a playlist for you spanning a great number of musical genres. To do that I have to cover a great many artists in each blog post. Few artists dare to move away from their chosen path, sticking to one genre, sometimes for their whole career. I would argue that some of the greatest artists in popular music are artists who dared to experiment, and refuse to be pinned down. Queen is a perfect example, and their fourth album, A Night at The Opera from 1975, proves the point better than any. Queen is using the whole scale of genres, and then some, from progressive rock to vaudeville to ballads to dixieland to hard rock. The album challenges every human sense, making it impossible not to pay attention while listening. Some of the best songs in music history are found on A Night at the Opera, Love of My Life and Bohemian Rhapsody foremost among them.

All the Best Marches are Written

A good friend, who was so into marching band music that it bordered on being unhealthy, claimed that it was no use looking for newly composed music, because «all the best marches have already been written». I am not that much into marches that I can substantiate his claim, but I can understand his feelings. It sometimes feels like all great music has indeed been written. Artists are often rerecording music of the past, sometimes improving on previous versions; new compositions seem to lean on, even copy, what’s already composed. And when artists who flowered in the magical 60s and 70s keep recording, their new music rarely reaches the same level of magic. It’s still good, but not as good as it used to be. Is it us or is it them?

I am not going to argue this point as avidly as my friend did, but there are examples of all of the above in this month’s blog post and playlist, the first of 2021: A new take on Franz Schubert, on the American classics and on Portuguese Fados, as well as attempts to prolong a career by leaning on old formulas – and Paul McCartney, perhaps the greatest composer of our era, to prove the last point. Still, I am not in any way depressed by the thought that popular music’s golden age may be behind us. I thoroughly enjoy much of what is currently being composed and produced and rerecorded. And all the old «marches» are still there, available to listen to whenever I choose. Best of both worlds, in other words.

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020 and 2021….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full..

Budapest Concert
Keith Jarrett

It may feel weird to start the first blog post in 2021 with a recording from 2016, but this live album by one of contemporary music’s greatest musicians was realeased in 2020, and I have previewed a track in the singles section of a previous blog post. I listen to this album with awe – but also with sadness, because it will most likely by Keith Jarrett’s last release. He had a stroke recently, and his left side was partially paralyzed, so no more piano playing.

Crescendo i gågata
En hyllest til Lillebjørn Nilsen –
Various Artists

Some artists are national treasures, Norwegian troubadour Lillebjørn Nilsen is one of them. I know I have readers and listeners on three continents who may not appreciate something as parochial as this album, a tribute to Nilsen on his 70th birthday, but I think that even though you may miss the intelligent and heart moving lyrics in Norwegian, you may still appreciate his craft as a composer. I am a lucky bastard, I can appreciate both.

Lee Ritenour

The virtuoso guitarist Lee Ritenour has recorded 45 albums in his sixty year career, still this is his first solo guitar album. All alone he marvels with his collection of guitars, only a fraction of which is found on the sleeve. This is a calming low-key album that grows on me with every listen.

Fame and Glory
Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention rarely do outside projects, the exception is their work for Alan Simon’s rock operas, like Excalibur. Now a selection of these songs has been made available on a new album, Fame and Glory. It is a bit different from what you would expect from the British folk rock band who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2017 (!). It is still folk rock, though, and still worthwhile to listen to, even if they are not at their peak.

Natalie Duncan

«I am a pianist first and foremost», says Natalie Duncan on the release of her album Free. I find her an equally brilliant singer and composer, blending soul, jazz and r&b and excelling in all of them.

High Anxiety
Matt Bianco & New Cool Collective

Matt Bianco became an overnight success with Get Out of Your Lazy Bed in 1984, and never really made it back to the top of the charts. Matt Bianco is a band, not a person, and was formed by the vocalist Mark Reilly with his lazy, gliding voice, easily recognizable on their new album. The hits are not there anymore, but their style of pop jazz still gives me a thrill. The Dutch big band New Cool Collective adds to the thrill.

Mariza Canta Amália –

It must have been the most daunting of endevours, to take on the catalogue of Portugal’s national treasure, Amália, whose death triggered a three day national mourning. But who else than Mariza could do it, and do it well? If you’re into fado, this is your moment. If you have yet to be introduced to this lamentful, painfully beautiful singing style, this is your moment.

McCartney III –
Paul McCartney

The much awaited McCartney III is here. It is good, at times great. It is interesting, historically significant, impressive. But it isn’t Ram, Or McCartney I or Band on the Run. Or remotely close to any of the Beatles albums. Should it matter? Perhaps not. Paul has given the world the best catalogue of any pop composer in history, so there’s nothing more to prove. Just have fun. We’ll be here to listen as long as he keeps recording.

Moonticket –
Kama Vardi

Israeli songstress Kama Vardi has released her third album, a truly international pop album with sweet, catchy tunes, devoid of much Middle Eastern influence. There is a connection between the songs, stories related to a break-up that Kama went through.

Over the Rainbow:
The American Standard EP –
James Taylor

One of the most recognizable voices in pop music continues to cherrypick standards from the American songbook. These three songs are left-overs from last year’s album, and it beats me why none of these made the first cut. His rendition of Over the Rainbow is rich and brilliant, with more chords in the chorus that I have every heard before, enriching this classic even further.


Now on to three albums that an algorithm probably wouldn’t have picked for you. But hopefully some of you still find them worth listening to:

Pakistan is for the Peaceful –
Ustad Saami

If you are bored with C-D-E-F-F-G-B-C and are looking for a new musical scale to express yourself, perhaps you can learn a note or two from qawwali music master Ustad Saami whose 49-note scale should be a mouthful for most of us. But out of it comes calm, hypnotic music that challenges your Western ears. I find it mesmerizing, perhaps you do, too.

Schubert in Love –
Rosemary Standley, Ensemble Contraste, Johan Farjot & Arnaud Thorete

As a compete amateur classical music listener, I have always been impressed by professionals who can distinguish between a brilliant and a slightly-less-brilliant recording of a piece. With Schubert in Love even I can have an opinion, because Rosemary Standley and her co-musicians deviate a LOT from what you expect Schubert ought to sound like. And I love it, love how they add rhythm that ought to have been there all along, they improvise and change and twist, and still show Schubert all the reverence his music deserves.

Stiklinger –
Karoline Wallace

My daughter Karoline is out with a new solo album, so how could I leave that out? Especially when I appear on the album myself (it is my piano playing you hear in the background of this track) ? Well, Karoline’s music is hard to categorize, she refuses to stick to a genre, and she refuses to let the listener lean back and tune out. With her music you either tune in and be challenged and hopefully overwhelmed, or you don’t enter her rich and sophisticated musical world. If you like what you hear, listen to the whole album. (And yes, I am very proud of her – and equally of my oldest , Benedikte, who has designed the sleeve together with her partner Magnus Skarphedinsson.)

This Dream of You –
Diana Krall

I have not always been a fan of Diana Krall’s breathy and husky singing and her mellow piano playing. The lack of energy in her performance is obviously an acquired taste, but I recognize that she is an accomplished artist, and in small doses I can lean back and enjoy. On her latest album she offers some interesting takes on among others How Deep is the Ocean and Almost Like Being in Love.

Some interesting new singles are out in December and January, with a promise of more to come. Among the choice cuts in this month’s playlist are new songs from Sivert Høyem, JP Saxe & Julia Michaels and Travis, a few re-recordings of classics by Kristina Train, Pomplamoose and Club des Belugas – and a single from the next Secretary of State in the U.S., Antony Blinken. What could signify a change of style in the White House more than having a rock singer as the country’s foremost diplomat?

Blue – Loren Nine

Devotional – Sivert Høyem

Douce France – Pomplamoose & John Tegmeyer

Get Together – Kristina Train

Give the People What They Want – PJ Morton & Yola

Infinitissimalement – Gillian Hills

Kissin’ in the Cold – JP Saxe & Julia Michaels

lavender and heaven – iris

A Little Love – Celeste

Mad About You 2020 – Hooverphonic

Minnesota – Mick Flannery & Anaïs Mitchell

Mondo Mas – Club des Belugas

Na Pamięć – Alicja

Nina’s Song – Travis

Run Away – Sivert Høyem

Son – ISAK

That’s My Style – Club des Belugas & Maya Fadeeva

Thirteen – Bedouine & Waxahatchee

Without Ya – Ablinken

Himself –
Gilbert O’Sullivan

When MAM Records released Himself in one of the best years in pop music history, 1971, and introduced Gilbert O’Sullivan to the world, we were introduced to a peculiar blend of music, lending inspiration from music halls to rock’n’roll, with a strangely rhythmic piano playing and a nasal singing style at the centre. But the songs were brilliant, playful, lushly arranged and with whimsical lyrics packed with word plays. I was quite influenced by O’Sullivan when I tried to write music myself, I remember. Listening to the album again now, I am reminded how brilliant some of the songs are. Unfortunately, Gilbert O’Sullivan never managed to quite copy the quality of his first album. His second, Back to Front was also good and included perhaps his greatest hit, Clair, but after that it was more of the same, only less of the surprise and quality that his two first albums brought to the world.

Most Enjoyable Albums of 2020

This was not an all-bad music year. Everything else was bad in 2020, but musicians stayed at home and some made beautiful music, alone or together with other musicians. Some cheated and made music before Covid-19 became a term on everybody’s lips. One artist on my list was even dead – and his friends finished the album for him, decades later.

But my ears have enjoyed themselves throughout 2020. So, thank you, artists, for keeping writing, performing and producing terrific music, particularly those of you who pride yourself of playing your own instruments, singing, harmonizing, looking back for inspiration, standing on shoulders of giants, still creating unique, contemporary music.

Before I gave you my favourite top 10 list, let me mention an additional 20 wonderful albums I have had a special pleasure of reviewing and listening to this year (in alphabetical order) :

All Rise Gregory Porter
Bakkekontakt Marthe Wang
Been Around A Girl Called Eddy
Bigger Love John Legend
Maya Hawke Blush
Come In From the Rain Solveig Slettahjell
Correspondence Jens Lekman & Annika Norlin
Down in the Weeds Where The World Once Was – Bright Eyes
En fremmed banker på – Terje Formoe
From Out of Nowhere – Jeff Lynne’s ELO
Happy Hour on the Floor Parsonsfield
Hundre dager Ine Hoem
I’d Rather Lead a Band Loundon Wainwright III
Like Animals Charlie Dore
Patience Sondre Lerche
Saint Cloud Waxachatchee
Songs for Our Daughter Laura Marling
Tea for the Tillerman2 – Yousef/Cat Stevens
The Lost Album Drake Bell
True Romantic – Ziemba

Then on to my special favourites. Albums that stood out and that I enjoyed more than anything else I have listened to this year. ( I have reviewed 113 albums of the more than 200 albums I have listened to, so there’s quite a few to choose from… )

You may notice that very few, if any of these albums will be found on most other reviewers’ top 10 list. Which just comes to prove that this blog has a different outlook and attitude than most reviewers. Hopefully, since many of you keep reading and keep listening, (slightly more of you this year than last year), my choices appeal to enough of you to make it worthwhile.

So, these are my top ten choices of 2020. (Some of the albums were released in 2019, but reviewed by me in 2020. ) You’ll find a link to the individual albums by clicking on the cover. If you want to listen to all of them, I have made a separate list.

Click HERE for all 10 albums.

SAWAYAMA Rina Sawayama

Yes, it’s dance music – and very much Top 40 material, but I would argue with a difference. Japanese-British Rina Sawayama has made the most interesting dance album this year. Daring and innovative.

Personal Best ? Bendik Brænne

Country, Americana and pop intertwined. Norwegian singer Bendik Brænne adds sugar and spice to this delightful album, sometimes sugary sweet, other times with considerable bite.

Are You In Love? Basia Bulat

I love the hoarseness of Basia Bulat’s powerful voice, a value added to her magnificent writing and melodic flair.

Frenchy Thomas Dutronc

French guitar virtuoser Thomas DeTronc plays his guitars better than he sings, but who cares when he so cleverly builds bridges between the American and the French Songbooks. It is a true sing-a-long album. Pure joy.

Heartbreaker Please Teddy Thompson

You must work hard and be in a particularly bad mood to find fault with Teddy Thompson’s songwriting. This is such a well-written, well performed album from an Englishman in New York. I keep listening to it again and again.

Semper Eadem Mimmi

I am going to repeat myself… I come across, all the time, artists that don’t get the recognition they so clearly deserve. Mimmi Tamba, is a prime example. She has released two albums, Semper Eadem this year, that are among the finest and most creative and musically surprising available, but you need to work hard to find anyone talking about her work. She pays no heed to the trends in the business, yet her music is contemporary and moving. I do sincerely hope she will keep on recording.

Harry Nilsson Losst and Founnd

Talking about artists that don’t get the credit they deserve: Harry Nilsson was loved by fellow musicians and many critics, but never became a true superstar (except with Without You and Everybody’s talkin’ , none of which he wrote). He died in 1994. Before he died he had started and nearly finished a come-back album. Record producer Mark Hudson held on to the tapes, and 25 years later it was re-mixed, brushed up and released, I would say in the true spirit of Nilsson. Listen to that voice, even after years of boozing!

Kristallen Nils Landgren & Jan Lundgren

How to know the difference between Landgren and Lundgren? Landgren is the trombonist and the singer, Lundgren the pianist, but otherwise they’re one. Although the album is found in the jazz section of your (non-existan) record store, Nils and Jan take you on a tour of genres, through The Beatles’ «I will» to Swedish lullaby «Byssan Lull». I can’t praise the result enough, this is an album that restores a fragile soul with its beauty.

Intro Lola Young

It happens once in a while: a new artist comes on the stage, and immediately gets a worldwide following. Lola Young is Billie Eillish, Kacey Musgreaves, maybe even Amy Winehouse material, but she isn’t there yet. Not because she doesn’t have it. She does. She is a true artist with words, she plays with her lyrics, eloquent albeit simple rhymes. Still there is meaning and sense in her lyrics, about being young (sic) and living in this day and age.

Modern Love Various Artists

For the first time since I started issuing a top 10 list, I have picked a compilation album as the year’s most enjoyable. I’m not too fond of compilation albums, soundtracks and live albums, but the soundtrack from the Amazon prime series Modern Love is different (and so is the TV series – if you every want to brighten up your day, put on an episode, and watch the whole series). A number of superb artists have contributed, Regina Spektor, The Divine Comedy, Thomas Dybdahl, Goldfrapp, Anne Hathaway, Nerina Pallot and Gary Clark. This is uncomplicated but nevertheless sophisticated pop. And although each song is moulded to fit the episode it is featured in, it is perfectly all right to listen to the album separately. Modern Love, the music and the TV series and the column in the New York Times, celebrate love in all its variants. Isn’t that a great way to leave 2020?

Please let me continue to lend your ears in 2021.

End of Summer

Yes, Summer is over as one of our featured artists suggest, and it is reflected in the music currently released. Even more so I imagine the pandemic is reflected in the songs, both those down-to-earth, close-to-the-microphone – songs, and the defiant, happy give-the-world-the-finger – songs.

This is the last regular blog list of 2020, but I’ll come back and sum up the year closer to Christimas, with my pick of the best of this horrid year.

If you are already in the Christmas Mood, let me re-introduce my list of brand new Christmas releases from 2019, just click HERE 🙂

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020, now more than 27 hours of continuous music….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full..

Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was
Bright Eyes

Fabulous comeback from Bright Eyes, the band encompassing Conor Oberst, the man with the saddest voice on the planet. Still, the album only makes me happy and wanting to sing along.

End of Summer
Espen Eriksen Trio

Not sure you like contempary jazz? Espen Eriksen Trio might be your path in to this particular world, melodic and haunting, while tecnically brillant.

En fremmed banker på
Terje Formoe

My good friend Terje Formoe started out as a folk singer more than 40 years ago, and has returned to his roots, having in the meantime written, produced and performed in Norway’s most enduring and popular children’s universe, Captain Sabertooth. I am glad he is back as a singer, creating heartfelt, down-to-earth songs brimming with humanity.

Giver Taker

Non-binary, trans and of Malawian heritage artist Anijmile from Texas has released a truly suprising debut album, hard to pin down, beautiful while painful, and well worth listening to.

The Hollow of Humdrum
Red Rum Club

Unashamed fun from sixtet Red Rum Club, happy rock’n’roll with lyrics that seem to ignore totally the woes of the world. It feels good to foot tap again. But remember one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

I’d Rather Lead a Band
Loundon Wainwright III

Such style, such absolutely perfect nostalgia – folk singer Loundon Wainwright III takes us back to a time very few of us have been part of, and we all feel at home there, with a big band that sounds like, I guess, the big bands sounded in the 1920s. If they had today’s recording equipment. Which they didn’t.

Read the Sign
Odd René Andersen & The Close Shaves

They all stayed at home and never met, but musicians recording Read the Sign still made it swing, and soul & jazz singer Odd Rene Andersen has rarely sounded better. Still, I wish they had a bit more interesting material to work with. The best tracks are in the blog list.

Fleet Foxes

The Fleet Foxes harmonies are back! So appropriate with tiny waves on the cover, this is how Fleet Foxes music feels. A number of great tracks, fluid and, yes, catching, at times even hummable.

Sunset in the Blue
Melody Gardot

A delightful new album from the voice that warms you like a tea cozie. Melody Gardot has picked songs from the jazz catalogue at large, whatever fits her – and so definitely our – moods. Sounds so effortless. I am sure it isn’t.

Tea for the Tillerman2
Cat Stevens/Yusuf

One should think it is a brilliant idea to re-record an album fifty years hence. But also nerve wracking, not only for the artist, for the audience as well that loved it the first time around. Cat Stevens has shown respect for his own original work, but changed as much as his lifetime of experience has let him do, not to improve, but to show us all that we move with the times, and so does music. This is no longer 1970. We are not necessarily wiser, we are that same, but more weathered, more experienced, less certain. I am deeply moved by listening to the young Cat Stevens singing a duet with himself half a century later in Father and Son.

Tomorrow Again
Saint Saviour

Becky Jones, lead singer of Groove Armada, is out with her third solo album as the artist Saint Saviour. It is a deeply personal, tender album . Not all songs are readily accessible, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on a private recording, but most of the time Saint Saviour opens the door and invites us in.

Total Freedom
Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards has been away from the music stage for a long time. Following a period of heavy drinking, she decided to quit her life off the rails, went back to her native Canada and opened Quitter cafe – and after a while started recording Total Freedom, a gem of an album, with sometimes wry, other times happy lyrics, but always melodic and upbeat music.

True Romantic

Now, who is this Ziemba who writes and performs some of the catchiest music of the year? With lyrics that seem to reveal all? Her real name is Rene Kladzyk from El Paso. She used to get attention for selling song-specific scents to the audience at her concerts. Now she shouldn’t need gimmicks like that any more…


You might find this month’s personal favourites among the singles, because a great number of well-established artists have released just one or two songs recently. Of course it is cumbersome and challenging to record for weeks in a studio these days, so let’s be happy with whatever they bring us. So much to choose from; my singles list has never been longer than this.

You will also find a few – let’s call them pre-Christmas releases. And a classic track from Elton John not previously released.


Ain Du – ISAK

Aldri i livet – Nr. 4

Angels – ARY

Another Space and Time – Laura Veirs

Blackness of the Night – Bill Callahan, Bonnie Prince Billy, AZITA

Californian Soil/Baby It’s You – London Grammar

Carageen – Jodie Marie

Checka – Delara & Loredana

Come Down in Time (Jazz version) – Elton John

Come Give Me Love – First Aid Kit

Curve a Line – CATT

Dido’s Lament – Annie Lennox

Elita – Gary Barlow, Michael Bublé & Sebastian Yatra

Fysstereisgutt – Kjell Reianes & Vera Ottesen

God is in the Detour – VanWyck

Happy Days – Cory Henry

Heartbeats – Amason & Dante

Heart of Glass – Miley Cirus

Here for Good – Jordan Moyes

The Hills of Cinnamon/Pancho & Lefty – The Lilac Time

Indian Jasmine – Zouzouelectric

Joyous We’ll Be – Adam Douglas

A Little Bit Yours – JP Saxe

Next Life – Nerina Pallot

Part VII (Live) – Keith Jarett

Sing to the Moon – Laura Mvula & The Chapel Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge

Still Here for You – Northkid


Trouble of the World – Sinéad O’Connor

Tru på meg – Odd Einar

Turn on the Lights – Jamie Cullum

Vilde Piger, Vilde Drenge – Oh Land & Zeritu Kebede

Vi trenger ikke hage vi – Ine Hoem

Diamond Life

Finally, let’s go back to 1985 and perhaps the smoothest voice and sound in the history of pop music. Sade Adu formed a band and released Diamond Life, including the single Smooth Operator, one of the biggest hits of the 80s. With elements of jazz, soul and pop, Diamond Life didn’t fit into any of those categories, because it was a little of all, so a better term was coined: sophisti-pop. A number of other artists could easily fit into that catergory, like Simply Red, Prefab Sprout, Everything but the Girl, but Sade is the queen of genre. And Diamond Life the defining sophisti-pop album.

Come Together

It’s time for new, exciting music specifically selected for your ears by your personal algorithm – me. As opposed to your non-personal algorithm, this one might bring you music that could broaden your taste, not keep reinforcing what you already like. Not that I dislike the algorithms behind the streaming services, in fact I love then, but a bit of human touch doesn’t hurt. That’s what I try to offer in my blog list.

This month I’ll introduce you to a number of collaborators. We seem to be entering a new age of duets, at least among singles releases, people like Melody Gardot & Sting,, Ane Brun & Dustin O’Halloran, Travis & Susanna Hoffs, Steve Lukather & Ringo Starr. Wouldn’t it be a change for the better if collaboration became a theme of our age, in a wider sense than in music…

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020, now more than 27 hours of continuous music….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full..

But let’s start with the albums.

’69 Corvette
Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan Wilson must be in a good place. He released a new album earlier this year, Dixie Blur, that I know many of you were taken with. Now he’s out again with a new EP, even more relaxed and emotive than the full album. And he’s already announced a new album is on its way in the spring.

All Rise
Gregory Porter

Another highly prolific artist is Gregory Porter. He has been teasing us with one single release after another, and finally here is the full album All Rise. Porter is supposedly the bestselling jazz/sould artist in the world right now, if we are to believe his record company. His deep, warm voice appeals to many, but without the good songwriting and the scale of genres, from jazz to pop to gospel, that he covers, it wouldn’t have worked as well as it does.

Bigger Love
John Legend

As with Taylor Swift’s Folklore album (August blog), critics and audience are split when it somes to John Legend’s Bigger Love album. He is getting criticized for not sticking to what he knows best, romantic R&B, but many, including me, like the fact that he dares experimenting a bit. It makes the album far more exciting and worth listening to. And there is plenty of his cute and squishy songs there to enjoy. If that’s your thing.

Maya Hawke

I had no idea who Maya Hawke was when I started listening to her debut album, Blush, I was just amazed by the quality of the songs and of her light and uplifting voice. This is a terrific debut, full of surprises and with interesting lyrics to go with the cleverly crafted songs. It turns out she is the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, not that it matters, except to strengthen the argument for creative genes passing from one generation to the next.

The Boy Does Nothing
Alesha Dixon

If you like mambo, big band and rap, this album should excite you. Alesha Dixon is a great star in the UK, primarily as a TV personality, but she started out as a singer/rapper , and this seems to be what she does best. The Boy Does Nothing is Top 40 radio material, so it’s candy music, but with a delightful twist. Try not tapping your feet. It’s impossible.

Come In From the Rain
Solveig Slettahjell

Solveig Slettahjell is an amazing jazz singer and crossover artist. Her voice is one thing; it can warm the coldest of hearts; but her vocal technique, her ability to turn even bland songs (and there are some on this album) into gems, is amazing. This is one of her best albums, so varied and surprising and just plain lovely.

The Dirt and the Stars
Mary Chapin Carpenter

If it was peace and comfort you’re after in the music you choose to listen to, go no further. Mary Chapin Carpenter has made an album for our time. calming us down, pointing us in the direction of the stars, not the dirt, that we tend to focus on. Carpenter has been with us for a long time, I would guess mostly catering to mature women, but I hope you men out there will give The Dirt and the Stars a spin as well. You might learn something.

False Spring
Zachary Cale

I find this a mess of an album, lots of good, interesting songs, and many I just couldn’t bother with. But maybe that’s all right, because the songs I have picked, rootsy and raw and charming in a Louisiana kind of way make up for having to endure all the other songs. (You don’t, by the way, I have after all picked the best bits for the blog list.)

Old Flowers
Courtney Marie Andrews

Courtney Marie Andrews has been compared to both Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell, and I can see where the comparisons are coming from. Still, there is some way to go to reach that level- But –  this album offers personal, almost deeply private songs to the listener. We haven’t heard the last of Courtney Marie.

Personal Best ?
Bendik Brænne

I have no idea where the question mark in the album title came from, because this is absolutely country artist Bendik Brænne’s best effort until now. And he has made some great efforts before. I doubt that record will stand long, because Brænne is on a stride and we can only look forward to further releases from him.  He knows his music history and is heavily influenced by music from the 50s to the 70s.  Personal Best? – not only personal best, but one of this year’s best, in my humble view.

In the Wee Smal Hours
Frank SInatra

There is a nice segue there from Bendik Brænne to Frank Sinatra. Not that they have much in common on the surface, but Brænne and many of the contemporary artists are in serious debt to Sinatra. For me Sinatra is the bridge between the American Songbook and pop music. Where would popular music have been without him?

I consider this album his best. And perhaps it was the first real concept album in the world as well. There is a common theme on the album, of love lost, of loneliness and longing, emotions no-one could possibly express better than Sinatra. With this album he makes his emotions my emotions, I feel for him and he feels for me in a strange way, not only in the way he sings, but which songs he picked for the album.  This is also band leader Nelson Riddle’s album, the mood is as much created by Riddle’s orchestrations as of Sinatra’s voice.

Finally, this month’s single releases. As I wrote initially, many duets, but also many vague promises of albums to come. I try to give you a wide range in musical genres, from big band to pop to rock to jazz – and music from many countries, the English-speaking world, Finland, Portugal, Sweden. Enjoy.

Aint No Mountain High Enough – AUST & Loren Nine

Baby It’s You – London Grammar

Bouche a Bouche – Gillian Hills

Desejo – Mariza & Yola Araujo

Flowers – Dave Thomas Junior

Genuine – Tingsek

How Long Will I Love You – Kristina Train

I Could Not Love You Enough – Sondre Lerche

I’d Die For You – Synthphonic – Margo Price

Ikuiseti minum – Marja Sala

I’m in the Doorway – Tricky & Oh Land

Leaving the Mountain – Katie Melua

The Lemonade Song – Pink Martini

Little Something – Melodi Gardot & Sting

Loose My Way – Ane Brun & Dustin O’Halloran

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Vaarin

Noisemaker – Daisy Dash

Nothing Left But Family – Rebecca Ferguson

The One That You Love – LP

The Only Thing – Travis & Susanna Hoffs

A Perfect Day – Loundon Wainwright III

Run to Me – Steven Lukather, Joseph Williams & Ringo Starr

Snirkelhushistorie – Julia Strzalek & Karoline Wallace

Solid Gold, Easy Action – Peaches

Therapy – The Cautious Arc

To S./To R. – Father John Misty

Turquise Walls – Laura Veirs

Wasn’t Born to Follow – Yo La Tengo

You – Paul Armfield

Roots Deep in the Ground

It is August, summer is ebbing away, and we go from chirpy and/or sobbing dancing queens, products of and with roots in the 90s, to artists and music with considerably longer roots, back to the origins of popular music.

I feel more at home there, and if you do, too, you have a lot of superb music to look forward to in my new list, including my classic pick of the month, one of my favourite albums of all time.

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020, now more than 27 hours of continuous music….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full

Dave Stewart & Thomas Lindsey

Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame has replaced Annie Lennox with blues singer  Thomas Lindsey, creating a totally unique sound, with roots dug deep into the ground of Louisiana folk music. The songs are all written by the duo, though, timeless and at the same time contemporary.

Anthem + 3
Father John Misty

«Is there nothing Father John Misty cannot do?» muses a fan online, and with this small collection of covers, you may well wonder, because here are respectful albeit refreshing versions of classic from Cohen, Cat Stevens and Link Wray.  Readers of this blog know what a fan I am of the Father, but if you have missed out on his original material, make a note to self on what you are going to listen to in the coming days. No way around it.


Blues With Friends

For those of you with particularly good eyesight, the list on the cover of Dion’s collection is a most impressive one. But it is no surprise all of these legends want to play with Dion, who turned 80 recently. He is truly a master of his craft. The rawness of his voice is still there, and he can still write music that sounds as if it has been around for decades. It hasn’t.


Every Which Way
Dan Reeder

Dan Reeder sounds as if he’s 105. He’s 66. He sounds as if he’s recorded it all himself at home with instruments he has built himself. He has. And despite of that this is great music, funny, quirky, warm and wise. Makes one believe in humanity again.


First Rose of Spring
Willie Nelson

It gives hope when an 87-year old artist at that age takes on the project of releasing 5 – five – albums with favorite songs mirroring his current state of mind. This is the third, so we may get two more  – It is also the 70th studio album from the Methuselah aka Willie Nelson.


Taylor Swift

People are getting so angry! Imagine recording an album that just doesn’t sound like anything you have done before! No Swedish producers, but free, heartfelt music that doesn’t sound sophisticated, but clean all the more true. I will admit that some of the album is more introvert that I can take, but Taylor Swift has gone out on a limb, and I commend her for it. So don’t listen to the critics, give it a go.


Thomas Dutronc

Thomas Dutronc is an incredible guitar player in the Django Reinhardt tradition, but he can sing, too, and he knows his classics, particularly those coming out of or inspired by his native France. This is a fun, irreverant album, bringing very little new to the table, but who cares. Pure enjoyment and my feet are tapping without stopping.

Hate for Sale

Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde have been around for so long they are easily labelled legendary. Which they dereve. Still, this is «only» their 11th studio album. The sting is still there, though, remnants of punk, and Pretenders of 2020 offer bite as they did when they started. Very little mellowness to be found. Turn down the sound of your ear pods. Or up.


Heartbreaker Please
Teddy Thompson

Teddy Thompson is the son of Linda and Richard Thompson, Britain’s legendary (there it is again) folk singers, and it is easy to recognize the roots in his contemporary, New York made music. (He left Britain for America at 18) There is something timeless and melodic here, that makes Heartbreaker Please worth listening to.


Like Animals
Charlie Dore

Charlie Dore was an overnight success in 1979, releasing Pilot of the Airways, a song you occasionally still hear on retro radio stations. But few people followed her career after that. Instead of becoming a one-hit wonder, she released wonderful, folk albums with terrific songs, sore and personal, funny and witty. Like Animals is a wonderful example of what she can do. It is not Top 40 stuff. Thank god.


Make It Better
Francesca Blanchard

French-American Francesca Blanchard is out with her second album of indie singer-songwriter music. I don’t expect many of the tracks from Make It Better will be played on Top 40 stations either. The songs need time to do their work, but after a while they stick in your mind. Blanchard sings and writes with sincerity, humour and skill.



One of the most peculiar duos around, creators of their own musical style, toytronica, is out with another playful and oh-so- carefully constructed album, Tourists. It seems there are nothing that can’t consitute an instrument in Psapp’s world, still they create music worth listening to, melodic, playful and fun. And some of it downright weird.


Unfollow the Rules
Rufus Wainwright

Sometimes I get the feeling Rufus Wainwright is too talented for his own good. Some of the operatic stuff he’s released has felt inaccessible to me, but this time he has made an album filled to the brim with accessible music, and within a musical territory I feel at home in. He as a remarkable songwriter, and his voice is rich and expressive.

I have been waiting patiently for new material from artists like Kristina Train,  The Mummers , David Gilmour and Billie Eilish. My patience has been temporarily rewarded, with new singles from them, hopefully signalling upcoming albums.  All singles below are integrated in the list on Spotify.

Alright – VICTORIA

AmAm – Secko Keita

Eleanor – Red Rum Club

Falle frå jorda – Daniel Kvammen

Forever Alone – Kakkmaddafakka

Her Love – narou iris

I’m not Here – Paul Armfield

Keep ‘em on They Toes – Brent Cobb

Let’s Be Friends – Pink Martini

A Love Like That – Katie Melua

My future – Billie Eilish

No Place Like Home – The Mummers & Sifu

Oh Berlin – Nerina Pallot

Pools – Natalie Duncan

Schwanengesang – Rosemary Standley & Ensemble Contrast

We the People – Kristina Train

Yes, I Have Ghosts – David Gilmour

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney’s second solo album, and the last before the creation of Wings, stands out as the living proof of McCartney’s genius. In my mind there is not a single weak track on this album. Ram made me an eternal fan of both McCartney and of The Beatles. Being born in 1957 I came to earth a few years too late to  follow the rise of the Fab Four in real time,  but I was still close enough to easily catch up. And I did.

Why is this such a classic album? Obviously, Ram plays an important role in the history of The Beatles, but for me it is the playfulness, the harmonies, the wealth of instruments used, McCartney’s lead voice at times tender, other times the great rock’n’roll singer, Linda’s harmonies, the unsurpassed songwriting, the segues from one song to another – and tracks that I haven’t tired of to this day.


Dancing Queens

It’s July, and time to be movin’! For some of us it might be to keep warm; July has been like a late September in my neck of the woods. But for whatever reason you might enjoy a bit of a rhythm to fill your summer days, here are some of the most enjoyable albums, singles and EPs  out at the moment.  And on our monthly trip down memory lane, we’re back in 1969, when The Moody Blues released their On the Threshold of a Dream album.

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020, now more than 27 hours of continuous music….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full

Rina Sawayama

Rina Sawayama, with a college degree in political science from Cambridge, and with a background from Japan, is an interesting new artist. Her debut album, SAWAYAMA, while offering us mainstream dance pop and R&B, is still way more interesting to listen to than many other releases in the same category.

Future Nostalgia
Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa has a background from Albanian Kosovo, but unlike Rina Sawayama, there isn’t a hint of her roots as far as I can tell. If you’re going to make international mainstream dance-pop, you might as well do it well. Which is what Dua Lipa is doing. This is as sophisticated as dance-pop comes.

Lady Gaga

I am and have been a great fan of Lady Gaga, one of the most versatile artists in the music business today, daring and forever curious in her musical choices. But her new album is mostly a disappointment. As with the two reviews above, this is mainstream dance-pop, but unlike Dua Lipa and Rina Sawayama, the Lady is mostly repeating what others have done in drones before her. Still, there are a few exceptions, and I have picked them for you, two of them duets with Ariana Grande and Elton John respectively.

Sondre Lerche

Sondre Lerche knows his stuff, but many on many of his previous albums he has been too smart for his own good, getting lost in his own creativity. Not this time. Patience is a brilliant album, his best yet, so many beautiful and well-crafted tracks –  a delight to listen to. Perhaps this should be the sound of summer 2020, more than the dance albums above.

One Day at a Time

A little more predictable than Sondre Lerche, but One Day at a Time from Irish band Kodaline is a sweet album, with lots of velvety pop and a great number of well-crafted songs. It is far cry from the sound of Irish boy bands, if you were worried there for a minute…

The Lost Album
Drake Bell

Drake Bell is considerably more famous as a television actor than as a musician, but he did have a massive hit with his album It’s Only Time in 2006. He recorded a follow-up, but managed to lose his hard drive, and the album was never released. Until he found the hard drive in a shoe box or similar – and the rest is history as they say. The Lost Album sounds like it has been lost for longer than 14 years, and that is meant as a compliment. This is lush 1980s pop with lovely melodies, rich harmonies and a lot of pop creativity.

Italian Ice
Nicole Atkins

Nicole Atkins is hard to pin down. Her at times overly dramatic voice comes off a bit odd, but I suspect she’s having a bit of fun, too. And as far as the music goes, this is clever stuff, very well executed and arranged, with more than a hint of nostalgia.

Happy Madness

Delicatessen is a Brazilian jazz/bossa nova group- Their new album mostly consists of standards, but Delicatessen, with their lead vocalist Rowena Jameson, make the well-known songs their own. And let’s face it: it is also the sound of summer to be swingin’ in the breeze with these guys, who know their bossa nova when they hear it.


A lot of great music comes out of Belgium these days, and the Belgians are smart enough to expose the world to their best artists through Eurovision Song Contest. A few years back, young singer Blanche impressed many of us with her City Lights, perhaps one of the most sophisticated entries in ESC ever. We have waited patiently for her first album, and here it is. Arguably it could have been stronger, but maybe my expectations were just too high. Still, as a debut this is way above average, with a lovely mix of soul, electro and a dash of indie music.

An extraordinary number of exciting new singles and EPs are out. Perhaps artists find it hard to record full albums with the restrictions forced on us by the corona pandemic.  This month I offer you new songs from seasoned artists like Elton John, Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton & B.B. King, Dave Stewart and Keith Jarett to talented young musicians like Finn Andrews, Salvador Sobral, ARY and Leanne de Havas. Some of the singles reflect the time we’re living in, referring both to the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic.

Body of Light/Wide Winged Bird – Finn Andrews

Where We Wanne Be – Dadi Freyr

Where Do the Children Play? – Yousif/Cat Stevens

What Would You Do For Love? – Ulrikke

Wake Up Romeo – Caro Emerald

Tu mi delirio – Salvador Sobral & Alma Nuestra

Try Love – Dan Wilson

That Time This Time – VanWyck

Take It With Me – Vaarin

Summer Sun – Hooverphonic

Storm Came – Dave Stewart & Thomas Lindsay

Rollin’ and Tumblin’ – Eric Clapton & B.B. King

Playground Love – Thomas Dutronc & Youn Sun Nah

People – Ian Shaw Italian Quartet

Oh My God/Kakofoni – ARY

Mister Holland – Gregory Porter

Little Voice – Sara Bareilles

Learn to Fly – Surfaces & Elton John

Just the Two of Us – Rhiannon Giddens & Sxip Shirey

I Remember Everything – John Prine

I Feel You – Claudia Koval & Bill Cantos

God natt Oslo – Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

A Ghost – Travis

Get Get On – Maya Fadeeva & Club des Belugas

From Paris With Love – Melody Gardot

For My Love – Saint Saviour

Bittersweet& Can’t Fight – Lianne La Havas

Answer Me – Keith Jarett

2020 Riots: How Many Times – Trey Songz

2020 – Ben Folds

On a Threshold of a Dream
The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues were way too suave for 12-year-old me in 1969, but as I grew a bit older I discovered them through this particular album. It was my first encounter with a concept album, where one track segued into the next and formed a whole. I found the album a bit eerie, with a mysterious opening, including poet reading, but I came to love many of the songs, like Dear Diary and Lazy Day in particular. And it changed my perception of what pop music was about.





Best of Contemporary

It might be true that most of the music in my monthly lists point backwards, focusing on contemporary artists who are inspired by music of the 60s, 70s and 80s. You will find that kind of music in my June-list, but there is also great music from contemporaries whose inspiration – if any – is much more recent, like Lauv, Neon Ion and Perfume Genius.

When I have the time, I listen to BBC2’s Top 20 lists on Saturdays from earlier decades, and it hits me every time how much of the music still lives on 30, 40, 50 years later – and how little of the music from the 90s and 2000s  enjoys the same fate. Hopefully, my list helps to give hope that even today artists write and perform enduring music. It’s just that so much of it drowns in a sea of mediocrity.

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full

Marthe Wang

Marthe Wang, singing in her native Norwegian, offers a new album of personal songs, her emotive voice meets the ear first, then all the other instruments follow.  I would hope that her lovely melodies also please listeners who cannot relate to the well-crafted lyrics.

Heart Echoes
Neon Ion

Another aspiring Norwegian artist, Natalie Sandtorv, performing as Neon Ion, is out with a truly international album, very contemporary sound, an album that deserves to be played and listened to.

-how I’m feeling

Staying in the contemporary sphere of the spectrum, here is the first solo album from an etablished songwriter Lauv – if you can be established at 26. -how I’m feeling is an ambitious album, 21 tracks, and surprisingly varied, while keeping within the limits of Top 40 music.

Looking for Stars

Looking for Stars was released in 2018, but has won new relevance this year, as the group was supposed to represent Belgium in ESC. We all know how that went, but the group had in my view one of the best and well-crafted entries (together with Bulgaria’s Victoria, who is also represented in the singles list). Hooverphonic has existed for decades and plays broad pop/rock music with heavy orchestration and brilliant singers.

The Personal Gallery
Ketil Bjørnstad & Guro Kleven Hagen

Pianist and composer Ketil Bjørnstad has invited violinist Guro Kleven Hagen to a unique partership. If you thought that last classical romantic piece was composed before 1900, listen to this delightful album of contemporary compositions.

The Magnetic Fields

I have to admit I soon grew tired of Stephin Merrit’s little jokes, some as short as 12 seconds, only a few of them giving any kind of aesthetic experience to the listener. But the pure originality of the album, the sarcasm in the lyrics and the funny titles, still make it worthwhile to have a listen. Most reviewers are over the moon, so….

Lola Young

I am considerably more attuned to Renaissance, the new EP from Lola Young. Her first album was out just a couple of months ago, so this young incredibly talented singer/songerwriter is in a good place musically now. It is still beyond me that she isn’t what the musical press writes about these days, because this is fresh, naughty, so well formulated, and absolutely unique. She ought to be a superstar already.

Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
Perfume Genius

One album the musical press does write about these days, is Mike Hadreas’ (aka Perfume Genius) fifth alibum, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. I can to a certain extent relate to that, because the album’s sophistication, the nakedness of the lyrics and the beauty of many of the melodies, make it so worthwhile to listen to it. But music reviewers are a pack of wolves, so make up your own mind.

Songs for Our Daughter
Laura Marling

In my view, by far the best album from Laura Marling. The songs are directed toward an imaginary daughter, but the collection still doesn’t have the feel of a concept album. Marling’s voice brings back memories of Suzanne Vega, Joni Mitchell and other great singer/songwriter voices. Lovely, all the way.

A Steady Drip Drip Drip

How do we feel about Sparks? This slightly ADHD, neo-operatic universe of theirs that hasn’t changed an iota since last century.  As with Magnetic Fields, it is a bit too much taking it in in one go, but A Steady Drip Drip Drip offers a handful of interesting and enjoyable songs to be metabolized when you’re in the mood.

The Women Who Raised Me
Kandace Springs

Soul-Jazz pianist and singer Kandace Springs has annoyed jazz aficionados for years for not sticking to jazz purity, but I expect they will be more happy with her now with the release of The Women Who Raised Me. I am, on the other hand, not that happy with every choice she makes on this tribute album, but I have picked versions of classics that for me adds new value to old standards. And I won’t stand in the way of letting her leave the beaten track even more, for all it’s worth (not much, I guess).

The Stranger
Billy Joel

I saw Billy Joel in concert in 1980 in the U.S., and it is still among the most exhilarating concerts I have attended. But then, I was a great and dedicated Joel fan, and still is. I knew most songs by heart, and most songs came from this album, his greatest commercial success, and his most sold non-compilation album, selling 10 million and still going. If there is a problem with the album, it is just that; it is too successful, there are virtually no little-known songs on it. Still, The Stranger brings back good times and feelings of being young. At least for me.



Look at the list of artists comprising the singles list this month! In most cases these releases are teasers of more to come, so pick your favourites and look forward to coming months. I will follow release dates closely.

1,2 Miss You – Blanche

Boys – Linda Schöne

Exist for Love – AURORA

Give it to You – Julia Michaels

Gotta Be Patient – Michael Bublé & Barenaked Ladies & Sofia Reyes

I Don´t Want to Talk About It – Albin Lee Meldau

I Got Nothin’ – Dion & Van Morrison & Joe Louis Walker

I Wanna Know – VICTORIA

I Wanna Write You a Symphony – Bleu

Laurie – Tim Burgess

A Nosse Voz – Mariza

NY Man – A Girl Called Eddy

Please Don’t Disappear – And Then Came Fall

Reach Out I’ll Be There – Jonathan Wilson

The Real Question – Dan Wilson

Rise – Ships Have Sailed

Stay Away – Randy Newman

Strange Effect – Unloved & Raven Violet

when i look at you – Rosie Carney

The World is Ending – Brent Cobb


The Beatles from Toronto

In 1976, a band called Klaatu released the album 3:47 EST, and soon a rumour started spreading around the musical world that the equivalent of the return of Jesus for Christians was actually happening in music: The Beatles had reunited and had released an album in all secrecy. The evidence was all there: the Beatles sound, Ringo’s drumming, George’s guitars, Lennon and McCartney’s harmonizing, and an album without photos and names of band members. I was one of the many that managed to get hold of the album, and for a short while I was a disciple of the idea of The Beatles resurrection. Of course, it was all nonsense, Klaatu was a trio from Toronto that was taken completely by surprise by the suggestions that they were indeed someone else. They weren’t, but in retrospect it must be said that it was easy to suspect that some or all members of The Beatles could have been involved in make 3:47 EST. It is a decent album that I have come to love, and listening to it again 44 years later, I realize it deserves a listen-through on its own merit. So – this is Classic Album of the Month. Listen and judge for yourself.

But I have also taken on the annual task of listening through the 40+ Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) entries and made a selection for you of the songs that I personally think has some merit. My pick for winner is Belgium and the song Release Me, but I will never know if Europe agrees with me, since this year’s final is, as you all know, cancelled because of the corona crisis. I have also added songs from Sweden, Italy, Iceland, Poland, Lithuania, Norway and Bulgaria. I’ll spare you the rest.

Here are this month’s details:

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed in 2020. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full


After Hours
The Weeknd

Maybe a surprising choice to include in my list, but I am impressed by the synthpop album by Canadian artist The Weeknd. It is surprisingly varied and experimental – in a good way, proving again that reaching superstardom doesn’t necessaryly make you a mediocre musician.

Are You In Love?
Basia Bulat

Now Magazine sums it up: «…exuberant folk-pop songs delivered with clarity, colour and conviction.» I introduced Basia Bulat to you as far back as 2013. She was good then;  she is as equally good now.

June It’s Gonna Happen

Rumer, the most silky-voiced chanteuse since Karen Carpenter, has released a new silky-voiced EP.

Half Empty
The Little Hands of Asphalt

The weirdest band name, I know, and it doesn’t even belong to a band. Sjur Lyseid (yes, it is an equally weird name if you’re not Norwegian) writes and performs sweet and well-crafted indie pop songs.

Happy Hour on the Floor

Another indie band, Parsonsfield, started out as quite an orthodox folk band. You wouldn’t khave known if I hadn’t told you, for Happy Hour on the Floor is cheerful and almost danceable.

I am not a Dog on a Chain

Unlike Parsonsfield, you would never call Morrissey cheery unless it was to annoy him. Not that you’d succeed. Morrissey is annoyed with the world and the people in it already.  Still, he writes songs worth listening to. He continues to be a voice of difference.

If You’re Dreaming
Anna Burch

Anna Burch’s second solo album offers sincere, sometimes a bit introvert, pop songs, performed with strength and stripped down to the essential.

Yael Naim

If Anne Burch wasn’t fragile enough, listen to French-Israeli singer  Yael Naim’s new album. It is hard to strip down more without moving into a cappella land, but don’t let that frighten you off. This is oh so beautiful and moving.

Rock Bottom Symphony
Pokey LaFarge

Pokey LaFarge loves the past, and dives into many old-fashioned musical genres on this amazing new album. Don’t let the title scare you off, Rock Bottom Symphony, reaches for the sky, not for the underground.

Saint Cloud

The Guardian has already proclaimed this album to be the best of the year. I think that is a bit early, but no doubt it is a riveting experience listening to Katie Crutchfield’s mesmerizing voice performing songs with a World music feel to them.

Shuffle and Go
Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention has with Shuffle and Go released 29 studio albums, so if you enjoy this one, which I am confident you do if you like folk rock, you can spend the next month or so listening to their back catalogue. And enjoy an early summer. Because to me there is summer in every track, happy, harmonious, flowering.As promised in the intro, here are 8 ESC songs that you might survive listening to.

Attention – Ulrikke – NORWAY

Empires – Alicja – POLAND

Fai Rumore – Diodato – ITALY

Move – The Mamas – SWEDEN


Release Me – Hooverphonic – BELGIUM

Tears Getting Sober – VICTORIA – BULGARIA


…And some great previews of we might expect will be equally great albums later in the year.

Big Black Train – Lucinda Williams

Birmingham – Jordan Moyes

Fade Into You – Whitehorse

Fences – Blanche

Green Is the Colour – Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

Hold On/How Deep is Your Love – Nerina Pallot

Lay It On Me Bavy – Nick Lowe

No Better Magic LONDON – Katie & Zurab Melua

Oh, What a World – Earth Day Edition – Kacey Musgraves

Perrong – Silje Nergaard

Should We – And Then Came Fall

Slow Your Attention – delush

Thank You – Gregory Porter

Tu me Acostumbraste – Salvador Sobral & Alma Nuestra

We Can Hide Out – Mozambo Remix – Ofenbach & Portugal. The Man

3:47 EST

No more said – except that this is the original album copied straight off to Spotify as it was released 44 years ago, not re-mixed. So, you might have to turn up your speaker at times.



The Nearness of You

We tend to sing about what we miss the most. Although Kristallen, Nils Landgren & Jan Lundgren’s album, was recorded long before the corona pandemic hit us (and The Nearness of you was composed  even further back, in 1938, by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington), it has a greater resonance than before, now that we have to stay apart from most of our loved ones for the undeterminable future. Besides being one of the most beautiful ballads every written, in my opinion,

But music brings us together even if we’re not. Hopefully my picks for this month will cheer you up a little bit, also knowing that you are not alone in listening to the playlist. Thanks so much to those of you who give me feedback and spread the word about the playlist. This is a list for those of us who want diversity when listening to music. This month I introduce you to the frailest of jazz voices at the same time as rock’n’roll and the best of Top 40. I know you can take it.

This month I have had the pleasure of re-listening to Paul Simon’s first solo album. It brings back more than memories, it takes me back to where my musical taste developed, how I was taught by Paul Simon  that there is more to life than songs with three chords. I remember I bought the sheet music to the album, and worked my way through some of the most complicated but oh so beautiful chords on the piano. I learned so much about constructing lyrics, what sounds fit together, about rhythm in words and rhythm in music.

Here are this month’s details:

How to listen:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed in 2020. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full


American Standard
James Taylor

I am not saying this isn’t a good album – but it could have been a whole lot better! James Taylor with the velvety voice could have picked any songs he liked, but he made a number of peculiar choices when putting together the album. If you’re curious, listen to the whole album, if not, enjoy the picks I have made. They are vintage Taylor.

Countless Branches
Bill Fay

Bill Fay quit the music business in the 1970s and became a park keeper and a fish packer for decades. He was brought back from obscurity in 2012, and his former album, Who’s the Sender, I picked for you a couple of years back. This is the tenderest of the tender, just Fay’s fragile voice, a few instruments, and his lament about how fragile humanity is. As much an album for today as any released recently.

Dixie Blur
Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan Wilson has reintroduced the genre Soft rock to me, similar to Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd did in the 80s. Dixie Blur is a brilliant new album, a sophisticated dish of old soft rock music, but also heavily influenced by contemporary Americana.

Endless Dream
Peter Bjorn and John

Swedes have a special knack for pop music, we know this much. The trio Peter Bjorn and Paul proves the point. You listened to their single Music in March; here is the full album, straightforward pop, uncomplicated and enjoyable. Nothing more, nothing less.

Silent Fires & Karoline Wallace

Meditative jazz is next, and yes, the vocalist is my daughter Karoline. Silent Fires introduces the music of Alessandro Sgobbio, very fragile and spiritual, and it coats your ears.

Harvest Time
Charlotte dos Santos

I have introduced Charlotte dos Santos to you before as well, she is a family friend. And an emerging brilliant singer and composer. Her new EP, Harvest Time has, as Forests by Silent Fires, a spirituality at its core, with personal songs about break-up and loss, but also about ways forward. A bit more challenging than her former album, Cleo, but give it some time.

In This Town YOu’re Owned
Robert Vincent

I have followed Robert Vincent since he debuted in 2013, so many of you are familiar with his coarse voice and mild Americana. On his new album he broadens the field, flirts with gospel and rock, but his sense of melody is always there, rich and hummable.

Nils Landgren & Jan Lundgren

Trombonist and vocalist Nils Landgren meets pianist Jan Lundgren, and beautiful music follows. Kristallen is a remarkable album in its simplicity. As with James Taylor, one wonders why some of the songs were chosen, but most of this album makes perfect sense.


if whispering and electropop are your things, you will love this album. For the rest of you, there is enough to enjoy on this album from the London-based Spanish duo, because this is definitely a cut above other similar albums.

Lots of interesting new singles out, perhaps the most significant of all is Bob Dylan’s Murder Most Foul, his first new song since 2012. And is it a single? It lasts for quarter of an hour, but both the lyrics about the murder of John F Kennedy (and much, much more) and the music make it worthwhile to spend that amount of time on Bob’s latest.

At a Light – Teddy Thompson

Brighter Dawn – Laura Mvula

Chandelier – Damien Rice

Changes Coming – Kate York

Corduroy Jacket – Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards

Domino – Nicole Atkins

Good as Hell – Lizzo

Heavy – Charlie More & Duncan Birkbeck

If the World was Ending – JP Saxe & Julia Michaels

Into the Unknown – AURORA

Light – Michael Kiwanuka

Mojave – Sarah Peacock

Murder Most Foul – Bob Dylan

Not in Mephis – Amy LaVere

Peaceful Afternoon/Piece a Vivre – Rufus Wainwright

Plus Je T’embrasse – Thomas Detronc

Rock Pools – Saint Saviour & Willie Mason

Savannah – Andrew Gold

She – Yael Naim

She Persisted – Gina Chavez

Stupid Love – Lady Gaga

Superfan – Dan Wilson

Zelda – Isah

Paul Simon
Paul Simon

I couldn’t add the whole album, it would throw the whole monthly list off-balance. But if you haven’t heard the full album before, do it now. Pop music   – any kind of music for that matter – doesn’t come much better than this.