Milestones such as New Years bookend periods within which it is handy to collapse and review all that went before. At least since the previous new year. We are always searching for the illumination, the light, the enhancement, the moment that lifts you out of your socks. Musically, for me, sock shedding experiences have been hard to find this year but there have been some excellent updates in some respective oeuvres this year.
Firstly, may I suggest you check out Richard Hawley’s latest collection “Hollow Meadows”. The Mercury nominated superb “Standing at the Sky’s Edge” broadened Richard Hawley’s canon, in my view, though the purists seemed to baulk at it. It brought great guitar driven songs to add to a backdrop of crooner ballads. With “…..Meadows” the ballads are back, with that deep rich vocal tone that we love, with humour, love and subtle observation.
Richard Hawley is building a fine stable of great tunes and time will establish him as one of our finest songsmiths. Enjoy him live, too.
Secondly, and well worth a shout out,is the latest from Joe Jackson, “Fast Forward”.
JJ has been around for years and with such experience and accomplishments comes some expectation. You might find this a slow burner, but this is clever stuff. Melodies and dynamics fluctuate perhaps creating some initial discomfort. But that’s the point of music, isn’t it ? Discomfiture resolving. This will go down as a JJ staple. An excellent thoughtful album indeed.
A couple of World Music nominations from me to sample.
Alif – “Aynama-Rtama” presents us with the perfect fusion of east meeting west. This is the debut album of an Arabic group of some acclaim. Hailing from Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq the music picks you up and smacks you back down again with a metaphorical “take that”. The opener “Holako” is your embarkation point for a roller coster ride of Arabic music driven along by western fusion.The spicy mixture works well.
Coming in just before the year runs out is Vieux Farka Toure and Julia Easterlin with “Touristes” .
I didn’t know of Julia Easterlin before this but I shall be checking out more. Her vocals, a haunting blend of tension and clarity, lift these songs to a new plain, when, excellent though Vieux Farka Toure is, there is always the danger of such albums being labled as “another blues album from Mali”. Heaven protect us from ever getting to that point.
So there you have it. Some ideas to whet your ears with. Richard Hawley, Joe Jackson and Vieux Farka Toure are all touring the UK in the 2016. Getchyer tickets. You can’t beat a live gig from a great musician.