Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 20 November 2020.
Camilla George follows her critically acclaimed debut album Isang with The People Could Fly, a hypnotising blend of Afrofuturism, hip-hop and jazz. The album is named after a book of African folktales that portrays the lives and experiences of African slaves who created stories in which animals have assumed the personalities of the slaves and slave owners. George’s band features core members Sarah Tandy, Daniel Casimir, Winston Clifford and Femi Koleso with special guests soul legend Omar Lye-Fook, vocalist Cherise Adams Burnett, guitarist Shirley Tetteh and trumpeter Quentin Collins. “I knew from the moment I decided to write music for these amazing stories that I wanted to expand the sound of my band in order to realise the sounds that I had been hearing in my head, says George. “I was keen to add to the horn section with trumpet and to have both a male and female vocalist as well as guitar which is key in many of my compositions for this album.”
The unlikely partnership between acoustic guitar pioneer Leo Kottke and Phish bassist Mike Gordon continues with the long-awaited Noon, their first new album in 15 years. Couching late-night melancholy in a summer lilt, Noon features 11 tracks of warmly askew songs and intricate playing — and the intimate third voice created by Kottke and Gordon, two of the most accomplished and idiosyncratic instrumentalists in American music. As creative as it is dextrous, under other circumstances, Noon might be hailed as a breakthrough third album from a young band. With Gordon composing, recording, and revising bass parts with longtime collaborator and Noon producer Jared Slomoff, and in-the-room performances supplemented by micro-overdubs, Noon is far more complex than might seem on first listen. As songs and arrangements were thought and rethought, Slomoff and Gordon fit puzzle pieces together, including nearly ambient appearances by pedal steel player Brett Lanier (Barr Bros.) and cellist Zoë Keating (Imogen Heap).
James Wallace – singer, songwriter and producer behind Skyway Man – presents The World Only Ends When You Die, a spinning disc flashing the finest examples of cosmological country and sci-fi gospel blues. The World Only Ends When You Die was conceived as a tragédie lyrique – a cinematic psych-folk opera about a person rendered incapable of coping with an uncertain reality following a near death experience. Under a spell of mixed wisdom by several “trickster guides” hailing from the future, they leap back into the world of the dead only to spend a hero’s journey climbing out, finally returning to the strange existence of 2020.
To mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Russian born arranger Paul Struck has arranged two of the composer’s great mid-period chamber masterpieces for soloist and string ensemble on Beethoven Recomposed out now via Naxos Records. Expanding the sonorities of the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata—Beethoven’s most important chamber work for violin—allows the sonata’s concertante quality to emerge in a new light. The Cello Sonata No. 3 equally succeeds in conceiving the piano part for ensemble, while exploring fullness of sound and maintaining transparency of texture.
Dave Alvin’s first album of solo material in eleven years, From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings, is out now. Produced by Dave Alvin, the album includes songs written by Alvin as well songs written by Alvin’s dear friends like Peter Case, Bill Morrissey and Chris Smither, and heroes like Willie Dixon, Bob Dylan, Earl Hooker, Doug Sahm, Lil’ Hardin Armstrong, Marty Robbins, and Bo Carter. There are also contributions from dearly departed comrades like Chris Gaffney, Amy Farris, and Bobby Lloyd Hicks and from old Blasters pals like Gene Taylor along with various members of The Guilty Men/Women/Ones.
Australia’s nomad Kim Churchill’s latest EP The End is set for release Friday the 20th November 2020 following the two single reveals “Nothing Nothing” and “Outta Love” which were lifted from the EP. Recorded in the Blue Mountains earlier in the year The End holds a six song collection of pure folk goodness. The End is the third piece of Churchill’s 4-part EP collection, proceeding from the first chapter I Am (recorded in Berlin, Germany) and second part of the series Forgetting (recorded on Vancouver Island, Canada). Kim continues with the unique release of a four part series with The End (recorded in the Blue Mountains, Australia).
Wolf & Cub have released their fourth album NIL via Part Time Records. Featuring the dark and abrasive first single ‘Blue State’ and searing second single ‘Close to the Edge’, NIL is Wolf & Cub’s first long-form release since 2013’s Heavy Weight. Where Heavy Weight hinted at the band’s ability to traverse tougher terrain, NIL sees the band gravitate away from previous psych-rock offerings in favour of a masterful and revelatory heaviness.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television