Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 28 August 2020.
The time had come, Angel Olsen realized in the fading summer of 2018, to take her new songs out of the house. Olsen’s 2016 marvel, My Woman, had been a career breakthrough, but it catalyzed a period of personal tumult, too: a painful breakup, an uneasy recovery, an inadequate reckoning. At home, Olsen penned songs that finally grappled with these troubles, particularly love:”how forever is too much to promise, how relationships can lock us into static versions of ourselves, how you can go through hell just to make someone else happy. These heartsore explorations shape Whole New Mess, Olsen’s first solo album since her 2012 debut and an emotional portrait so intimate and vulnerable you can hear her find meaning in these crises in real-time.
Widowspeak have released their fifth studio, Plum, via Captured Tracks / Remote Control. A lyric from the album’s title track says, “The stone that’s buried: what the fruit is for”. This line serves as an analogy for the record itself: the self-aware sweetness that the band employs to deliver the seed of a harder, sharper idea. Singer Molly Hamilton coats wry observations in a voice as honeyed as the sun-ripened fruit, and Widowspeak have always made a bitter pill much easier to swallow. From its opening strum there’s a palpable warmth and familiarity to Plum even as it hints at darker truths below the surface, questions about inherent worth. What value and meaning do we assign ourselves, our time, and how do we spend it?
Acclaimed Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow returns with her 3rd studio album as part of her one-woman jazz ensemble Jyoti. Unlike the previous two records, this album contains tracks with vocals from Georgia including the lead single “This Walk”. The album’s only guest musician includes Georgia’s long-time friend and acclaimed saxophonist Lakeica Benjamin on the track “Ra’s Noise”. The album also features two Charlie Mingus compositions that Georgia remixed for the album “Bemoanable Lady Geemix” and “Fabus Foo Geemix”.
UK indie rock outfit BLOXX have debuted their first album Lie Out Loud. The album’s first single, and title track, “Lie Out Loud” was premiered as a hottest record on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show in the UK. BLOXX comprises frontwoman Fee, bassist Paul, guitarist Taz and drummer Mozwin. The band formed in West London in 2016, with Uxbridge-raised Fee leading the charge alongside work mate Paul and college friends Taz and Moz. Searching for something more than just an ordinary existence, Fee studied music tech at university and honed her craft to seek out a career in music, in spite of a discouraging start in school.
The Russian National Orchestra continues its Shostakovich cycle with Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar”. The record also features bassist Oleg Tsibulko, the Popov Academy of Choral Arts Choir, the Kozhevnikov choir and maestro Kirill Karabits. Inspired by Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar” about a Nazi massacre of Jews just outside Kiev in 1941, Shostakovich based the Symphony on five of the author’s poems. The texts reflect on the peculiarities of daily existence in Stalinist Russia, providing a deep insight into life under Soviet reign. After the sombre, impressive opening movement, Shostakovich alternates between a satirical stance, humour, and portraying the hardships of the Stalinist reality, leading up to the innocent beauty of the symphony’s finale. One special aspect of this recording is the Russian National Orchestra’s collaboration with an Ukrainian bass soloist and conductor, underlining the shared cultural and political heritage of both countries.
A virtuosic, award-winning guitarist with a gift for insightful songwriting, Molly Tuttle established herself as a new artist to watch with her boundary-breaking debut album, When You’re Ready. Her new album is …but i’d rather be with you, now out on Compass Records. The record comprises 10 tracks that cross the musical spectrum and the decades, from FKA Twigs to Cat Stevens, from Rancid to Karen Dalton. The songs range from a shimmering version of The National’s “Fake Empire,” to her version of The Rolling Stones “She’s a Rainbow,” all united by Tuttle’s clear, true voice, range and musicianship.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up
- Phases by Angel Olsen – music review
- Why Me? Why Not. (Liam Gallagher) – music review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television