What does it sound like?:
Two artists from different generations but somehow their latest releases share a bond in the way they quietly reflect the state of the world today through the their own personal reflections. Both have grown up a bit and have seemingly eased down the sass and bravado that shone through in earlier albums. Yet Crosby cant resist dusting down the freak flag on “Other Half Rule’ with its references to ‘Rocket Man and Little Hands’ but it seems more a resigned sigh than the previous calls for action. Cherry herself says “I’m very shy about taking on big themes with the airs that I’ve got a solution — who has the fucking solutions?”
Crosby’s album is the 3rd instalment in as many years starting with Lighthouse in 2016 and Sky Trails last year. After years in the musical wilderness he returned to the simple acoustic style that made his name – elliptical chord progressions with those luminous open tunings that made songs like Guinnevere so appealing to those operating outside of the rock sphere like Miles Davis. The track ‘1974’ could happily sit on the wondrous ‘If Only I Could Remember My Name’. He has now been working with the same group of musicians for a while now and in this outing he wisely bring the Joni-like voice of Becca Stevens more to fore and the album closes with a lovely version of Woodstock; you can almost feel the Cros wishing himself back to those halcyon days with his former muse by his side.
Neneh of course came from a jazz background, her stepfather being the ground breaking Don Cherry, and this influence has always been there in her songs; the sound Gil Scott Heron and the jazz poets sitting right up front alongside the strutting hip hop and Marvin Gaye croon. Like Crosby she went for many years with the last album ‘Blank Space’ being some 18 years after the very successful “Man’. This time round Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) is at the helm and it sounds beautiful; minimal harps, pianos, vibes and percussion – in fact very much aligned with the last Four Tet album ‘New Energy’. Neneh is in great voice – soft but proud; a jazz singer and I leave the last word to her:
”I have a name. You have a name. We’re not just these faceless mounds you can put in the ground. We’re human beings with lives and stories”
What does it all *mean*?
Quiet is the new loud (again)
Goes well with…
The world today
Might suit people who like…
For the Neneh album – Solange ‘A Seat At The Table’; Kanye; Gil Scott Heron; Marvin circa Trouble Man; jazz
For Crosby: Joni circa Hejira; acoustic guitars; vocal harmonies; the sound of a great artist growing old gracefully