Adele’s been out of earshot for a few years, almost ever since her album 21 exploded all over radios worldwide and she won herself an Oscar for the theme song of the (fantastic) James Bond film Skyfall.
But, mercifully, she is now back with a new single, and a new album, 25, due out on November 20th.
Admittedly, her voice is flat-out technically impressive - rich and powerful, with great range – but I think the thing that makes her songs so addictively heartbreaking is how convincingly she sings them. She throws every bit of anguish or regret or scorn a vocalist could possibly muster into her performances, leaving listeners with an impression of authenticity that is rarely achieved by many pop stars.
If you haven’t been playing it on repeat already, have a listen to Adele’s new tune below:
Leon Bridges sounds like a time machine. When I first heard the title track from his upcoming debut album, Coming Home, I thought it was some mysteriously unheard of gem straight out of the early 60s R&B scene. However, though studiously and marvelously reminiscent of icons like Sam Cooke or Otis Redding, Leon is a young soul and Gospel singer out of Texas, and just getting started. Check out the charming “Coming Home” below, and if you like what you hear be sure to keep an ear out for the full album, due out June 23rd.
Ibeyi made up of French-Cuban twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, knot together smooth, occasionally even feather-light, vocals with mesmeric percussion. Daughters of Cuban musician Anga Diaz (of the Buena Vista Social Club), they utilize the cajón (an instrument he famously used) in the rhythmic backbone of their distinctive sound, and, while singing mostly in English, also interject phrases and expressions in Yorbuba (the same language from which the band’s name is taken). The duo’s debut album is set to release later this month. Give a listen to a few of their tracks below.
A 7-piece band from New Orleans who are well known for their excessively entertaining live performances, The Revivalists are my newest obsession. I caught their visit to NPR’s World Café last week, and have since listened to the songs from that set innumerable times, without tiring of them in the slightest. I just love the blend of rock/soul/blues, and the musicians’ obvious and immeasurable energy. Check out my favorite track below!
I have no idea how I missed Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut album when it dropped back in August, but I’m certainly grateful I have encountered it now. Roots-y rock (and blues, and soul) saturated with growling earnestness and unpolished energy, Benjamin’s album is not for sitting and relaxing. I find it impossible not to move some part of myself along to this music. Hailing from New Orleans, and apparently Jack White approved, his sound is somehow both fresh and familiar, and I’ll be crossing my fingers that this fellow will be hitting the music festival circuit somewhere nearby come summer.
At the moment, this is my favorite track from the album:
Also: With 2014 wrapping up, countless listings have popped up of Top Ten (or Twenty, or Fifty) albums of the year. David Dye, host of NPR’s World Café and possibly the human being whose musical taste I trust most, offered up his ten picks of ’14 in the link below. Some inclusions had already made their way into my sphere of awareness (and onto this site), but there are a few albums on here that I’d missed and very much recommend checking out now: