Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 27 March 2020.
Somewhere in the middle of making Are You In Love?, Basia Bulat took almost a whole year off. Because she had fallen in love, because her father died, because she had lost her sense of beauty and where it might be hidden.
The recording began at Hi-Dez Studios in Joshua Tree but the album was not complete when Bulat returned home to Montreal. It would be nine more months before she would return to it. “Throughout this whole record, I was struggling between keeping it together and letting go,” Bulat explains, “between holding onto old narratives or accepting what’s before me.” The new record represents this time of death and grief, but also forgiveness, reinvention and love. “I want to make a really beautiful record about compassion,” she wrote to producer Jim James.
Now the album is out on Remote Control Records.
A week after its premiere on triple j Drive, Ali Barter and Oscar Dawson of Holy Holy have shared their COVID-19 isolation love song ‘Four Days’. On DSPs and Bandcamp, for a limited time all proceeds will go toward Support Act’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal.
Barter and Dawson know first hand the far reaching and devastating impact COVID-19 is having on the livelihoods of musicians and music industry folk everywhere. ”The crisis is having a massive effect on the music industry and especially the folks involved in touring – session musos, roadies, sound engineers who literally can’t work now.” explains Barter “Support Act is the best way to get much needed funds and assistance to those people. Super happy to put something out there to make people smile and raise some money!”
Proceeds from ‘Four Days’ will go directly to Support Act. Established in 1997, Support Act is Australia’s only charity delivering crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers as a result of ill-health, injury, mental health problems or other crises. Their assistance can take on many forms; paying rent or a mortgage, buying a bed or a wheelchair, paying medical bills or funding for funerals and much more.
In 2018 they established the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline – a free, confidential 24/7 counselling service available to anyone working in Australian Music. If you, or someone you know is struggling, contact 1800 959 500.
Saxophonist and bandleader, Lakecia Benjamin has released a 13-track collection of tunes originally penned by two of the most influential jazz figures of the 20th and 21st century: Alice and John Coltrane. Pursuance: The Coltranes pays homage to the tour-de-force pair. Benjamin has enlisted what can only be described as sheer jazz elite for the album: Reggie Workman, Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridegwater, Meshell Ndegecello, Regina Carter, Bertha Hope, Last Poets, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson, John Benitez, Marc Cary, Marcus Gilmore, Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Brandee Younger, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Jazzmeia Horn.
Banjo House Lockdown is a Facebook Live series from Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn broadcast from their home in Nashville on Friday nights (US time – meaning Saturday mornings in Australia). The first episode aired March 20th with scheduled episodes to follow each Friday till 10 April (at this stage). The first episode has been streamed over a quarter of a million times on Facebook, you can watch it here. To watch the future episodes visit Béla’s Facebook page on Saturdays at 10 am AEST.
Alexis Ffrench has dedicated himself to hauling classical music out of its stuffy comfort zone. Performing in unexpected places, his work has a refreshing openness to it, a grace that affords each piece a rare degree of beauty. His new album Dreamland is out now. In Dreamland, the pianist/composer confirms his gift for beautiful melodies and soulful arrangements, bolstered by the rich sound of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, award-winning instrumentalists, and a full gospel choir.
Brisbane band Cedarsmoke have released their new EP, Everything Is The Worst. In the works for months, the work coincidentally seems to lend a hand – in a dark, comical manner – in depicting the current global situation. The EP features unreleased, completely ironic tracks including, ‘Feel Bad Hit Of The Summer’, ‘The Grim Reaper’s Song’ and ‘Local Anaesthetic’. Everything Is The Worst explores sensitive topics like the gripping reality of death, scrapping through depression and the monotony of life. In the Cedarsmoke fashion, they manage to lighten the mood and maintain a less-serious vibe with their dark-humoured, cynical lyrics mixed with their melancholic indie/alt-rock style.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television