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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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