Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 20 May 2022.
Like many musicians, Grant-Lee Phillips sought out silver linings wherever he could find them during the pandemic. He started performing weekly at-home livestreams, dubbed Live from the Parlor, and promoted Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff from his house in Nashville. But in early 2021, when Phillips realized any potential touring options were still on hold for the foreseeable future, he started to write and record a new solo album at home. The resulting full-length, All That You Can Dream (out now), is understandably introspective, as it’s anchored by Phillips’ empathetic voice and rich acoustic guitar. The album’s lyrics attempt to make sense of an uncertain, anxiety-riddled time, while coming to terms with the idea that once-unshakeable things now seem fragile or fallible.
Toronto-born, London-based artist Tess Parks has returned with her long-awaited new album And Those Who Were Seen Dancing via Fuzz Club Records and Hand Drawn Dracula. Following years of international touring and a lengthy list of critically-acclaimed collaborations with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe in recent years (most recently the duo’s self-titled 2018 LP), the new album will be Parks’ first full-length solo offering since her much-loved debut album, Blood Hot, was released back in 2013.
Shabaka Hutchings’ debut release under his own name “Shabaka”, Afrikan Culture is out now on Impulse! Records. Known for his globally-acclaimed, groundbreaking groups Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming, and Shabaka and the Ancestors, this release finds Shabaka exploring a quieter, more meditative space. The 8-track release is primarily made up of Shabaka on various wind instruments with other complementary instrumentation sprinkled throughout. The EP serves as an incredibly meditative and reflective work that can be appreciated actively or as an ambient aural backdrop.
Em Spel is the solo project of Chicago-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emma Hospelhorn. Her debut album, The Carillon Towers, folds myriad textures into songs that feel alternately lush, spiky, delicate, abstract, and grounded, yet simultaneously unified and cohesive. With one foot in pop music and the other in avant-garde classical music, the album is a subtle take on chamber folk: the lush instrumentation is layered into these compositions in such a natural way that listeners aren’t totally confronted by it until a flute or violin line or a delicate electronic texture cuts through and the track is suddenly presented in a new light.
Thomas Dollbaum was born and grew up in Tampa, Florida. In 2015, Thomas moved to New Orleans to study at university of New Orleans for his master’s in poetry. While in New Orleans, Thomas worked as a carpenter and began writing the songs that eventually became his new record, Wellswood. The album was recorded over many sessions during the pandemic in New Orleans in an old hotel suite turned recording studio by friend and fellow musician Matthew Seferian. Thomas still resides there, running his own carpentry business.
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s new album, Opalescent, is out now. The album explores the intermingling of light and sound, and features compositions by Phillip Houghton, Kevin Callahan, Andrew York, Robert Beaser, Frederic Hand, Michael Hedges, and Tilman Hoppstock. The record was roduced by Steve Rodby (producer and member of the Pat Metheny Group).
London-based producer Tourist has shared his fourth studio album Inside Out, alongside the lead single ‘A Dedication’. The 10-track body of work is out now on all streaming platforms via the artists own independent imprint Monday Records. The news is paired with the announcement of his headline UK and European tour, with a headline show at Electric Brixton. A poignant record written in response to the sudden loss of a close friend during the pandemic of 2020, Inside Out was a difficult yet cathartic experience for the artist.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television