New releases for 26 May 2023

We start this week’s super six with the twice Grammy-nominated, Mercury Prize- and Brit Award-winning artist Arlo Parks, who returns with her second album, My Soft Machine. This is a deeply personal body of work: a narration of Parks’ experiences as she navigates her 20s and the growth involved. She explains articulately in her own words: “Our view of the world is peppered by the biggest things we experience – our traumas, upbringing, vulnerabilities almost like visual snow. This record is life through my lens, through my body – the mid-20s anxiety, the substance abuse of friends around me, the viscera of being in love for the first time, navigating PTSD and grief and self-sabotage and joy, moving through worlds with wonder and sensitivity – what it’s like to be trapped in this particular body.

The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte is the first release from Sparks on the venerable Island Records label in nearly five decades, following such classics as 1974’s landmark Kimono My House, highlighted of course by the unforgettable hit single ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’. The new album is described by Ron and Russell Mael as a record that is “as bold and uncompromising as anything we did back then or, for that matter, any time throughout our career.

Rhoda Dakar, who began her musical career as lead vocalist with all-female 2Tone band The Bodysnatchers, is back with her first solo album in seven years. Version Girl is a collection of reggae and ska covers by artists and songwriters she admires. The Bodysnatchers only ever released two singles, ‘Let’s Do Rocksteady’ and ‘Easy Life’, then after a year together they split and Rhoda went on to guest with The Specials in Europe and the USA, featuring on their second album, More Specials, for which she won the first of her seven gold records.

As part of the Revisionist History series, Matador are releasing a five-year anniversary edition of Lucy Dacus’ album Historian, pressed on opaque red vinyl and featuring alternative artwork. Lucy Dacus is done thinking small. Two years after her 2016 debut, No Burden, won her unanimous acclaim as one of rock’s most promising new voices, Dacus released Historian, a remarkably assured 10-track statement of intent. “This is the album I needed to make,” says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician.

At long last the classic Steely Dan catalogue is back on vinyl! Led by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan released seven albums between 1972 and 1980. The vinyl reissue series continues with Countdown to Ecstasy, the band’s sprawling 1973 sophomore LP with such standouts as ‘Bodhisattva’, ‘Show Biz Kids’ and ‘My Old School’.

Our release of the week comes from one of the most important voices in British folk music, Shirley Collins, who has selected another peerless collection of songs for her new album, Archangel Hill. Some of these songs are from traditional sources; others were written by some of her favourite writers. The album was produced by Ian Kearey – Collins’ musical director – and the arrangements were shared between Collins, Kearey and Pip Barnes, as well as Dave Arthur and Pete Cooper from The Lodestar Band.

Shirley Collins - Archangel HillArlo Parks - My Soft MachineSparks - The Girl Is Crying in Her LatteRhoda Dakar - Version GirlLucy Dacus - Historian (5th Anniversary)Steely Dan - Countdown to Ecstasy

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