Here’s my June list. Catching up slowly!
I’m writing in October which is proving to be a difficult time for me again. So I’ll keep it short and sweet…
I have always loved Kate Rusby. The flag carrier for beautifully sung traditional English folk song, with wonderful instrumental arrangements. Her Yorkshire voice comes shining through, but this is no homage or chocolate box performance. It feels timeless and eternal. And this recent album is as good as any. One of my favourite voices ever.
In a totally different genre, another of my go-to modern voices is that of jazz singer Kurt Elling. I think he studied divinity (and maybe even was a minister), and maybe that’s a clue to his deep respect for the tradition, and his rich baritone. But there it ends. I love his technical ability and creativity – this is no crooning, but an endless examination of form and melody, angular, testing, no prisoners. SuperBlue is his most funky album, and perhaps his most accessible. I adore it. I can’t wait to see him in a couple of weeks’ time again, at Union Chapel!
Lyle Lovett is an alt.country songwriter I really admire. His songs are wry, witty, totally idiosyncratic. His writing is cynical, affectionate, uncompromising, surreal. Great storyteller. Sometimes I wish I could be him. So many albums of his rank in my Top 50 especially the ones with his big band. Joshua Judges Ruth has always been rated one of his best, but for some reason was the one I’d never heard. So delighted to put that right! Sooo good!
I had never given Tom Petty much time. My bad. The simplicity of the songs masks a deep control of form, and an economy of language that is perfect at building connotations in the stories. As a songwriter, I’m always searching for the short phrase that evokes the picture or sense I want my listeners to pick up on. I had listened to Wallflowers last year (produced by Rick Rubin) so I went back further to listen to Full Moon Fever. I was bowled over by the economy, the precision, the mood.
On the acoustic end of my likes, Laura Marling always ranks really high. Semper Femina is up there with the best of her work. So admire the production and arrangements! I also was gobsmacked by the supreme acoustic musicianship of The Milk Carton Kids. And at the nu soul end of my listening spectrum, Anderson .Paak is recommended, as is Weyes Blood.
One person I’d like to call out is Kelly Joe Phelps, an acoustic guitarist who died recently. Like a cross between John Martyn and a gospel singer. He really influenced me when I started writing again around 2000, and though his work is not consistent, his guitar playing is mesmerising. If you are interested I’d recommend Sky Like a Broken Clock or the Beggars Oil EP. So many gigs of his in London, I just sat agape, astonished at his playing. A tragic tale, much loved.
But I think my one album of the month is something everyone already knows – except me. I had always dismissed Norah Jones as being probably being too middle of the road for my taste, but oh her voice, and in particular the arrangements on her blockbuster album, Come Away With Me. Acoustic chamber jazz - just how I love it! I know you know this!
- Namian Sidibe - Namian Sidibe
- Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams
- Chris Brown - OCCHIO
- I’m With Her - See You Around
- wild Up - Julius Eastman, Vol. 1: Femenine
- Bruce Springsteen - Letter To You
- Ian Dury - Laughter
- Eberhard Weber - Stages of a Long Journey
- Kelly Joe Phelps - Brother Sinner and The Whale
- Susanne Sundfor - blomi
- Brendan Eder Ensemble - Therapy
- Westerman - An Inbuilt Fault
- Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour
- Lankum - False Lankum
- Dudu Tassa, Johnny Greenwood- Jarak Qaribak
- Kate Rusby - Philosophers, Poets and Kings
- Sarah Jarosz - World On The Ground
- Lyle Lovett - Joshua Judges Ruth
- Kurt Elling, Charlie Hunter - SuperBlue
- Lana Del Rey - Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard?
- Dave Rawlings Machine - Nashville Obsolete
- Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever
- Niteworks - A’Ghrian
- James Taylor - October Road
- Angelique Kidjo - Mother Nature
- John Taylor - Angel Of The Presence
- Newton Faulkner - Rebuilt By Humans
- Laura Marling - Semper Femina
- Bob Dylan - Love and Theft
- The Commodores - Nightshift
- The Crusaders - Free As The Wind
- Laura Cantrell - Just Like a Rose: The Anniversary Sessions
- Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders - Promises
- Mica Millar - Heaven Knows
- Weather Report - Heavy Weather
- The Milk Carton Kids - All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do
- Jon Thorne, Danny Thompson - Watching The Well
- This Is The Kit - Careful Of Your Keepers
- June Tabor, Iain Ballamy, Huw Warren - Quercus
- Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
- Jacob Collier - Djesse Vol. 1
- Bill Frisell - Ghost Town
- Keef Hartley Band - The Battle Of North West Six
- Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
- Vieux Farka Toure - Mon Pays
- Anderson .Paak - Ventura
- Ry Cooder - The Prodigal Son
- Bonnie Raitt - Just Like That…
- PJ Harvey - White Chalk
To date: 230