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A M – Future Sons & Daughters
A lot of musicians pay lip service to having a plethora of far-flung musical influences, but then you listen to their music and it sounds like they've done their best to avoid them at any cost. Citing artists as diverse as Jorge Ben, Brian Wilson, Sergio Mendes, and Curtis Mayfield, AM's first UK album - "Future Sons & Daughters" - truly delivers on the sum of its parts. At times sounding like Jim James of My Morning Jacket singing his way through Beck's lost album between "Mutations" and "Midnite Vultures", the record brings together the best of musical worlds, rippling through classic roots sounds: AM pop and rock, steamy soul and R&B, Brazilian tropicalia, British Invasion, and ‘60s Bay Area psychedelia.
Charlie Haden and Chris Anderson – None But the Lonely Heart
Recorded in the superb acoustic of New York's Cami Hall, this disc sees one of the world's finest acoustic bass players (Charlie Haden) collaborating with an internationally renowned pianist he has long admired, Chris Anderson (the man who taught Herbie Hancock to play piano). As Charlie says in the liner notes: "Chris is risking his life with every chord, that's how much it means to him. He has such a reverence for beauty, he plays like an angel."
Eska – Eska s/t
Who is Eska? One of the most prolific UK vocalist to be working in the last 15 years or so. Consistently in demand as a session artist, her voice has blessed the work of many seminal underground acts such as Jazztronik, New Sector Movement, Nintin Sawney, The Elecktrons, Incognito, Bugz in the Attic, Cinematic Orchestra, Zero 7, Soweto Kitch, Tony Allen and Theo Parrish. If there is only one album that you buy this year, make sure it is this one...unreal
Gwyneth Herbert – All The Ghosts
Gwyneth Herbert, whose sublime version of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" appeared on the soundtrack to 2009 Rom-Com smash "Leap Year" has been hailed as a priceless talent. A quirky, original singer-songwriter, inspired as much by Janis Ian and Joni Mitchell, as by Billie Holiday or Nina Simone. Her latest collection, "All The Ghosts" features ten terrific songs, which speak to you directly, without forethought for genre or category. In their melodic immediacy and observational characterization, you might hear the Lennon-McCartney of "Sgt Pepper", or the Ray Davies of "Lola", rather than any jazz stereotype.
Laurence Hobgood – When the Heart Dances
This album is truly a meeting of three jazz giants: gifted pianist, composer and arranger, Laurence Hobgood, colossus of the double bass, Charlie Haden and Grammy Award winning vocalist, Kurt Elling. Described by Dave Brubeck as "one of the most incredible pianists I have ever heard", Hobgood has, apart from his solo work, been directing Kurt Elling's Blue Note (and now Concord) recordings for fifteen years and has accrued his own Grammy Nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying A Vocal Performance for his work on Elling's Flirting With Twilight.
OCDC – Get The Blessing
Their latest album OCDC once again finds Get The Blessing elbowing their way out of easy categorisation. With guest turns from Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley as well as Robert Wyatt, and influences including astronomy, psychology, Borges, and food, OCDC grabs the listener by the lapels and sets off joyously once more into the sonic wilderness. From the upbeat rollicking title track that kicks off proceedings to the lilting cinematic closer Pentopia, OCDC exudes energy and invention at every turn.
Phantom Limb : The Pines
Here's an oddity: a country-soul record, fronted by the belting voice of Yolanda Quartey, dripping with lyrical references to hard-scrabble lives in the backwoods, that comes not from the Deep South but the far west – and that's not California, but Bristol.