Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 26 January 2024.
Over the past twenty years, Chatham County Line have built a devoted local following on the strength of their genre-bending blend of bluegrass, folk, country, and rock and roll. The band’s latest release, Hiyo, marks their first release since the departure of their longtime banjo player and serves as something of a re-introduction to the roots stalwarts, complete with new sounds, new collaborators, and a whole new lease on life. Recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain studio with co-producer/engineer Rachael Moore (Kacey Musgraves, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss), the collection finds the trio — Dave Wilson (lead singer/guitarist), John Teer (fiddle/mandolin) and Greg Readling (bass/pedal steel) – embracing change at every turn, experimenting with fresh sonic palettes and innovative approaches to their core instrumentation.
Mol Sullivan refers to her debut album, Goose, as a “long exposure photograph,” representing snippets of her songwriting styles throughout the past fifteen years, along with capturing the radical change she has experienced as a person through the process. Emerging from a decade-long affair with alcohol, the singer-songwriter highlights her sobriety and the difficult labor of unlearning patterns of behavior that don’t work anymore – and learning to let go of relationships that refuse to recognize their own. Wrapped inside a sparse chamber-pop instrumentation, this collection of Sullivan’s songs honors the person she had to be to become who she is now.
Reverso, the collaborative trio of Ryan Keberle, Frank Woeste, and Vincent Courtois, returns with a groundbreaking new chamber-jazz exploration. The brilliant, tragically short-lived French composer Lili Boulanger provides the inspirational spark for Shooting Star – Étoile Filante. Ever since American jazz became old enough to carry a passport, French composers were ready to absorb lessons and borrow licks from the exciting new avant-garde style. That enthusiasm was reciprocated by jazz musicians elated to be treated with dignity, and eager to explore the blithe melodies and beguiling harmonies that came so naturally to French composers. A musical conversation started at that time continues to this day in the music of Reverso, the trans-Atlantic collaboration of American trombonist Ryan Keberle and two French artists, pianist Frank Woeste and cellist Vincent Courtois.
One of the fastest rising rock bands coming out of New York City, Quarters of Change, have released their album Portraits. Where their last album Into The Rift was staring into the dark tunnel ahead, Portraits is close to the other side, with the band surfacing for some light. Quarters of Change continued to put themselves to the test by self-producing this body of work, joined by a handful of collaborators including GRAMMY® Award winning producers Mikey Freedom Hart (Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, Bleachers, Lana Del Rey) and Dave Tozer (John Legend, JAY-Z), in addition to fellow artist Charlie Burg and producer Brandon Shoop.
Recorded in summer 2023 at Vienna’s Musikverein just a few days before Anne-Sophie Mutter’s 60th birthday, her new album – simply titled Bach, Bologne, Previn, Vivaldi, Williams – features the violinist with her ensemble of hand-picked musicians, Mutter’s Virtuosi. It shows the variety and versatility for which Mutter has become renowned, with repertoire ranging from Vivaldi and Bach to Previn and John Williams, via Joseph Bologne, who was the son of a Guadeloupe plantation owner and a slave from Senegal, and famed in Paris not only as a composer and virtuoso violinist, but as a dancer, horseman and fencer.
On her second album Blue Raspberry – out now – the New York-based songwriter Katy Kirby dives headlong into the artifice of intimacy: the glitter smeared across eyelid creases, the smiles switched on with an electric buzz, the synthetic rose scent all over someone who’s made herself smell nice just for you. An exegesis of Kirby’s first queer relationship, ’Blue Raspberry’ traces the crescendo and collapse of new love, savoring each gleaming shard of rock candy and broken glass along the way.
Future Islands was never meant to last. After eighteen years and 1,400 live shows, Future Islands show they’re not only still here, they’re making the most powerful music of their fascinating, but unexpectedly long and storied career. Their new album People Who Aren’t There Anymore reflects the transience of a band’s existence; the rare privilege of travelling all over the world contrasting with the sadness of fleeting moments in and out people’s lives. Being everywhere but also nowhere. Remembering the lives lost and the living they’ll never see again, cherishing the present and being grateful for the past.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television