Album: Harry Styles by Harry Styles
Release Date: May 2017
My Favourite Tracks: Sign of the Times, Carolina, Two Ghosts
Album Notes: I love this album.
I can’t deny that I’m a bit of a One Direction fan. Not to the point where I’d go to a concert, but I can sing along with a fair few of their songs, and I think they make decent pop music. But I figured that when they all went their separate ways to make new music, they’d make the kind of stuff that is all over the charts, most of which I can’t stand (think Clean Bandit, Stormzy, Shawn Mendes, Bruno Mars et al).
I didn’t really account for the fact that there’s also quite a few male vocalists making music that I do actually quite like, and so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised at the direction that young Mr Styles took. Anyway, I just really like what he’s done. Even as someone who doesn’t know a lot about music, even I can hear the influences at play here – Bowie, Queen, and lots of 70s classic rock. Whether they are genuinely his influences, or there’s a bigger picture and that’s just the sound that the record label decided to go for, is irrelevant to me. It’s just a good album that I’ve been listening to loads, and will continue to do so!
Album: Freedom Highway by Rhiannon Giddens
Release Date: February 2017
My Favourite Tracks: Julie, Birmingham Sunday, The Love We Almost Had
Album Notes: I don’t know anything about music. I don’t have the words to describe the music that I like, I just know that I like it. That’s been the case the whole time I’ve been writing about the albums I listen to each (or not quite each) week, but it’s especially true here.
I didn’t know Rhiannon Giddens existed until about three weeks ago, when a former university professor (Dr Owen Robinson) with whom I’m friends on Facebook, and whom I hold in very high esteem, mentioned her new album. He described it as a ‘glorious blend of slavery-era folk, delta blues, Stax soul, New Orleans street music, and even hip-hop.’ Quoting him feels cheeky, but I would never have known that those words apply to this album. All I know is that I love this album.
Me not having heard of this astonishing woman before is of no consequence, and is no reflection on her extraordinary talent. This is music that draws on centuries of the African American experience, from slavery to civil rights to the current situation. As a white woman from Essex I can’t even pretend to understand the half of it, but music likes this gives a beautiful insight.
Album: My Universe by The Shires
Release Date: September 2016
My Favourite Tracks: Beats To Your Rhythm, Not Even Drunk Right Now, A Thousand Hallelujahs
I’m off to see The Shires again next week, so I thought it was about time that I had a listen to their second album.
I first discovered them having heard them on Bob Harris Country on Radio 2 a few years ago. Since then, I have been to see them numerous times (I think I’m up to four), and I just think they are great.
My Universe is much of the same as what has come before, which sounds derogatory, but isn’t. It’s a great blend of the vocals of Chrissie and Ben, who make up the band, and the songs are a great example of UK country music; they sound like true Southern US country songs but with that something slightly different that comes from being from somewhere else.
I’m really looking forward to heading to see them again next week, as well as stuff from the new album, I’m hoping to hear my favourites from the first one!
Album : ÷ by Ed Sheeran
Release Date : March 2017
My Favourite Tracks : New Man, What Do I Know?, Bibia Be Ye Ye, Barcelona, Supermarket Flowers
Well look at me, talking about an album that has only been out for eleven days! It’s almost as though I am cool or something. Except, of course, I’m not. I have no huge love for Ed Sheeran, as such; I like the odd single that he has released and I have heard on the radio, but I’ve never listened to an album. I only really listened to this one because I work with people who have an average age of around 23, and they had been talking about it.
All in all, this isn’t really my kind of music. I know that it’s very popular, and I’m not just saying this to be contrary. It’s just not entirely my cup of tea. That’s not to say that I don’t like anything on here; as you can see from my favourite tracks up there, there’s a few that I do like, and I like them a lot. I was surprised to hear what can only be described as a Bellowhead-style track with Nancy Mulligan, and ultimately I find the whole thing quite disjointed. We jump from Supermarket Flowers, which is a sad and poignant song about loss, to Barcelona, which is an upbeat pop song with (obviously) Spanish influences. But it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend 45 minutes!
Album : La La Land – The Soundtrack
Release Date : December 2016
My Favourite Tracks : City of Stars, Mia & Sebastian’s Theme, Someone in the Crowd, Start a Fire
I didn’t really want to include soundtracks in my weekly (or thereabouts) albums, because they aren’t properly albums. But last week, this didn’t leave my turntable. Just kidding – as if I can afford to buy this on vinyl? Spotify all the way.
I know La La Land, as a film, has divided film lovers. You either love it, or you really, really don’t like it. I completely understand why people don’t like it; if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t like it either, if that makes sense. But I do like it. I like it a lot. And a lot of that has to do with the music that has been stuck in my head for a week. It’s hard for me to describe just how much I like this music. It’s a bit like it’s always been in my head, and it took this film to come along and unlock it – that sounds totally pretentious, I know, and possibly as though I think that the score and songs are somehow derivative. But I don’t mean that at all, I just think they feel familiar in a really, really good way.
it’s City of Stars that has really been doing the rounds in my brain, and I do absolutely love it, but it’s the piano on Mia & Sebastian’s Theme that has really won my heart.