Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 27 November 2020.
From the outrageously brilliant brain of Australia’s favourite satirical songwriter comes a sophisticated debut studio album of 11 beautifully observed songs. Following a return home to Australia in 2018, a string of sold-out theatre tours and his most recent acting and writing role which dramatically bore fruit in the acclaimed series Upright, Tim Minchin has spent the best part of the past two years pouring his considerable artistic energy into a globally anticipated studio album. Apart Together is a rich suite of disarmingly honest story-songs written with Minchin’s inimitable wistfulness and whimsy. Although best known for his politically-charged punchlines and hit musicals, past indie favourites like Not Perfect and White Wine in the Sun, as well as the recent Missy Higgins release of his heartbreaking ballad, Carry You, have hinted at Minchin’s breadth as a singer-songwriter. Apart Together is masterfully produced and co-orchestrated by Daniel Denholm, giving it a rare cohesiveness that lends itself to the lost art of listening to an album in a single sitting.
The London-based singer / songwriter and BRIT School grad, Thea Morgan-Murrell – a.k.a. Thea – draws heavily on nostalgia for the minimalist balladry on her new mini-album, Land of Nod. The sounds and feelings from her favourite classic childhood movies like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang play a huge role. Her other influences range from the soulful energy of heroes like India Arie and Aretha Franklin, to shapeshifting personalities like Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. It’s this melting pot of influences which create a sound that she describes “classic songwriting with soul, and a ‘less is more’ approach to production”. Thea’s pensive songwriting captures a whole spectrum of emotions and experiences which navigate the complicated journey of finding yourself, coming of age and falling in love in 2020.
Composer Anna Clyne has released Mythologies, a portrait album of five orchestral works recorded live by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, on AVIE Records. Works included on the album include Masquerade (2013) conducted by Marin Alsop; This Midnight Hour (2015) conducted by the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo; The Seamstress (2014-2015), also conducted by Oramo, featuring violinist Jennifer Koh performing live with a recorded recitation by vocalist Irene Buckley; Night Ferry (2012) conducted by Andrew Litton; and rewind (2005-2006) conducted by André de Ridder. The cover art was created by Josh Dorman and the liner notes were written by celebrated classical music journalist Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim. The album was engineered and mastered by Grammy Award-winning audio engineer Jody Elff. AVIE will also release the album in a limited-edition vinyl version.
On their self-titled debut full-length, Ausecuma Beats encapsulate the spirit of this unique band.Each track showcases the different talents of each musician and sonically explores what is possible when we join together and celebrate our differences. Ausecuma Beats are more than just a band, they are a philosophy. Led by master djembe player, Boubacar Gaye, the nine-strong ensemble, demonstrate artists coming together based on an idea – the idea of place, of transplanting cultural heritage into a contemporary city. Ausecuma Beats is people from all corners of the world finding themselves together in new environments, as a community.
Ibrahim Maalouf has unveiled his 12th studio album entitled 40 Melodies in reference to his 40th birthday in 2020. The album is a complete departure from the artist’s previous projects as for the first time in his 15-year discography, Ibrahim offers an intimate duo with his friend and collaborator of over 10 years, Belgian guitarist François Delporte. The duo revisit Ibrahim’s melodies that have left their mark on the music scene, both on his albums and his soundtracks, as well as a few previously unreleased tracks. All of this with the appearance of a host of prestigious surprise guests (Sting, Matthieu Chedid, Marcus Miller, Alfredo Rodriguez, Richard Bona, Trilok Gurtu, Hüsnü Senlendrici, Jon Batiste, Arturo Sandoval, and many others). Ibrahim thus returns to his origins and to the essentials: a trumpet, a guitar and 40 melodies, to celebrate his 40th year.
With Long Day in the Milky Way, her eighth album, Kris Delmhorst takes a sure-footed stride forward, offering the purest distillation yet of her musical sensibilities. Lush with layered vocals and immersive instrumentation, it finds the gifted lyricist at the height of her craft and working with a strong sense of purpose. World-weary but hopeful, the songwriter responds to a time of global anxiety with a missive straight from the chest. Delmhorst invites the listener to look both out and in, to take in the full kaleidoscope of life’s contradictions – persistence, frustration, heartbreak, love – and to locate the grace within the struggle, the beauty in the dark.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television