We are six months in to 2019 and music is still pretty good.
Rap/Hip Hop remains dominant. While her sister, Beyoncé continued to shake the world, this time with her live album, Homecoming, Solange has created a jazzy, woozy, laid-back album that crawls under the skin with repeated listens. Little Simz has pressed every button marked ‘banger’ for her album and Dave’s Psychodrama is an awesome piece of work, one so emotionally draining that it’s only safe to visit twice a year. The most fun to be hand is with the strangely old-fashioned sounding IGOR by Tyler, The Creator. It’s as preposterous as Rap should be.
Jazz bands based in London with Shabaka Hutchings leading the charge are making their mark in the studio. The Comet Is Coming’s second album and Ezra Collective’s first do not disappoint. However, New Orlean, Christian Scott’s Ancestral Recall both honours the past and pushes forward into the future. Best of all, though, is the explosive big band and gentle balladeering on Thema Prima by Aki Takasi/Japanic.
I’ve always loved a winsome lady. Aldous Harding is as mad as a box of frogs with a taste for an over large hat. Her music is hypnotic. Once you start listening to Designer, you won’t be able to tear yourself away until it’s finished. It took me quite some time but I’ve become mildly obsessed with Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising. Beautifully orchestrated, whether with real strings or electronica, she sounds like the ghost of Karen Carpenter, trapped in limbo, fretting about the state of the world today. Then, there is Mavis Staples to consider, who has released her finest album of her career to date.
Folk Music continues to covet a warmer place in my soul than it ever did. Rhiannon Giddens continues to develop and impress as she does so, this time teaming up with Francesco Turrisi for There Is No Other and with Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah for Songs Of Our Native Daughters. First impressions of Jake Xerxes Fussell latest suggest he’s just created another beauty, this time an album of covers called Out Of Sight.
In World Music, if such a thing exists any more, Angelique Kidjo was released a characteristically exuberant Salsa album, Celia, a magnificent tribute to Celia Cruz. By contrast, Sult by Norwegian, Maja SK Ratkje, is bizarrely intense.
Is Chamber Pop a thing? Hania Rani has created a solo piano album that explores the harmonics of the instrument from the inside out. Esja is beautiful music that gets under the skin in a good way, as is typical of most Gondwana releases.
Rock and Pop haven’t really featured in my world.
What’s impressed The Afterword so far in 2019?
Weyes Blood – Andromeda