Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 5 February 2021.
Hot on the heels of their acclaimed recording of Britten’s Peter Grimes, Stuart Skelton and Edward Gardner join forces with Christine Rice and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for this fascinating programme of early twentieth-century works. Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht needs no introduction, but far rarer is Oscar Fried’s contemporaneous setting of the same poem. Composed in 1901 for soloists and orchestra, Fried’s version is a true setting of (as opposed to Schoenberg’s reflection on) the text by Richard Dehmel. Lehár wrote Fieber in 1915 as the closing part of his song cycle Aus eiserner Zeit – he then made the orchestral setting a year later. Korngold’s Lieder des Abschieds (Songs of Farewell) date from the early 1920s, whilst he was still in Vienna, and shortly after he had completed the opera Die tote Stadt. Setting poetry by Christina Rossetti, Edith Ronsperger, and Ernst Lothar, the cycle is a poignant reflection on the Great War.
Over the past three decades, A.J. Croce has established his reputation as a piano player and serious vocal stylist who pulls from a host of musical traditions and anti-heroes — part New Orleans, part juke joint, part soul. While his last album, Just Like Medicine, paired him with soul legend Dan Penn and an all-star cast of players, his new album was born of memories — of favorite artists and shows, but mostly, of late-night gatherings with groups of friends, many of them fellow musicians, with Croce at the piano taking requests. Croce revisits these musical evenings on By Request, 12 personally curated covers that traverse decades and genres, propelled by his spirited, loose-and-easy piano mastery and emotive vocals.
Sarah Mary Chadwick’s seventh studio album Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby is out now through Rice Is Nice Records and Ba Da Bing. The release follows on from three striking singles, ‘Full Mood’, ‘At Your Leisure’ and ‘Every Loser Needs A Mother’. Tristan Scott-Behrends directed the accompanying video for ‘Full Mood’ which visualises the track’s tenderness, depicting intimate moments between a couple. Forever collaborator Geoffrey O’Connor created the debut video for ‘Every Loser Needs A Mother’ towards the end of Melbourne’s lengthy lockdown. Title track ‘Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby’ talks of the night that album’s theme was spawned from in a haunting, yet humorous tale (a combination Sarah masters), ‘Don’t Like You Talking’ is the song Lana Del Rey never wrote and it’s simplicity creates more room to floor you.
Rudolph Johnson drew comparisons to John Coltrane during his career. Like the jazz legend in his later years, Johnson eschewed drugs and alcohol and spent his time every day either meditating and rehearsing on his horn. You can definitely hear a little bit of Coltrane in Johnson’s playing on Spring Rain, the re-release of his 1971 debut for Black Jazz, the first of two he recorded for the imprint. I and the first he recorded as a leader after some sideman work (most notably for organist Jimmy McGriff); his ability to explore the upper registers and overtones of his tenor sax while retaining control is quite striking. Of course, this being a Black Jazz release, along with the bebop sounds of ‘Sylvia Ann’, there’s the soul jazz of ‘Diswa’ and the groove funk of ‘Devon Jean’, all played accompanied (as is typical on Black Jazz releases) by top-notch sidemen.
It’s tempting to think that you have all the answers, screaming your gospel every day with certainty and anger. Life isn’t quite like that though, and the debut album from London four-piece TV Priest instead embraces the beautiful and terrifying unknowns that exist personally, politically and culturally. Posing as many questions as it answers, Uppers is a thunderous opening statement that continues the UK’s recent resurgence of grubby, furious post-punk music. It says something very different though – something completely its own.
Songs Of Love And Revolution – the new album by The Telescopes – is out now. Songs Of Love And Revolution is a solar burst of trance inducing rhythms gripped at the helm by a wall of throbbing bass held in place by a swarm of encircling guitars. Lashed to the mast of this whirling dervish, incantations abound to dispel what is bound. This is the 12th album by The Telescopes, music for a four-piece ensemble that will never sound the same twice in any given environment or to any set of ears.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television