We kick off our six picks for this week with Liam Gallagher, who last summer joined the list of all-time greats to record a prestigious MTV Unplugged session. Having missed Oasis’s 1996 session through illness, the show at Hull’s City Hall found Liam fulfilling some unfinished business entirely on his own terms. The electrifying atmosphere is palpable from the very beginning with a phenomenal reaction as Liam takes to the stage with ‘Wall Of Glass’. Material such as his personal favourite ‘Once’ and the joyous ‘Now That I’ve Found You’ resonates in this stripped-back format, with his vocal shining alongside a trio of backing singers and string arrangements performed by the 24-piece Urba.
After a remarkable two-year run that saw them earn a Grammy Award nomination for their last chart-topping studio album while touring the world, Larkin Poe have returned with what is undeniably their most wide-reaching and artistically adventurous work to date. Self Made Man sees the multi-instrumentalist sister duo of Rebecca and Megan Lovell pushing their music and message towards hitherto unexplored terrain, inspired by their epic world travels yet still powerfully rooted in the creative heritage of their beloved American South. From the thunderous power of the album-opening ‘She’s A Self Made Man’ through the nostalgic ‘Tears Of Blue To Gold’ and from the fierce Chicago blues of ‘Scorpion’ to the front-porch jubilation of ‘Easy Street’, the album is ambitious in both its eclectic, energetic sound and its universal lyrical approach fuelled by tradition, invention, and Larkin Poe’s remarkable ability to touch hearts and souls.
Rated PG brings together in one place, for the first time, a selection of songs written by Peter Gabriel especially for, or used to notable effect in, films, from his first score – for Alan Parker’s film Birdy in 1985 – through Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (that became the album Passion), Philip Noyce’s film Rabbit-Proof Fence (released as the album Long Walk Home) and others. It includes new and previously unreleased versions, otherwise unavailable songs and a brand new track. “I have always loved film and any chance I have been offered to work with good film projects and good directors I have jumped at,” says Gabriel. “This album is a mixture of songs that have been written for specific films, and existing songs that found an appropriate place in a story. Consequently, there is a mix of different styles and moods.” Originally a limited release for Record Store Day 2019, the album is now getting a general release.
Celebrated singer/songwriter Brigid Mae Power paints expansive song-pictures that are effortless, hypnotic and folk-oriented like those of Judee Sill, Bill Callahan and Sharon Van Etten. Her third album, Head Above The Water, is a coming of age opus featuring a ground-breaking amalgamation of traditional folk and country – an engaging blend of strings, bouzouki, piano and Power’s distinctive vocal make this an achingly beautiful body of work. It’s a continuing tale of everyday survival; more diverse, different, a bigger canvas, with broader brushstrokes. The album was recorded in analogue studio The Green Door in Glasgow with Alasdair Roberts co-producing alongside Brigid and Peter Broderick.
To Love Is To Live is the debut solo album from Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth. Recorded in Los Angeles, London, and Paris, the record features a number of collaborators, including producers Flood, Atticus Ross and longtime co-creator Johnny Hostile, plus The xx’s Romy Madley Croft and Idles’ Joe Talbot. Actor Cillian Murphy also makes an appearance on ‘I’m The Man’, a track Beth originally recorded and released for the BBC series Peaky Blinders.
Our album of the week comes from Norah Jones, who didn’t even intend to make another album. After she finished touring 2016’s Day Breaks – her return to piano-based jazz – she moved into unfamiliar territory without boundaries: a series of short sessions with an ever-changing array of collaborators. But then, slowly but surely, the session songs Jones hadn’t released congealed into that very thing she’d meant to avoid – an album. “Every session I’ve done, there’ve been extra songs I didn’t release and they’ve sort of been collecting for the last two years,” says Jones. But Pick Me Up Off The Floor is anything but a disjointed collage: it holds together beautifully, connected by the sly groove of her piano trios, lyrics that confront loss and portend hope, and a heavy mood that leans into darkness before ultimately finding the light.
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