This chilly week we’ve got six spring stunners to warm you up inside, starting with Eilen Jewell, who has been hailed by American Songwriter as “one of America’s most intriguing, creative, and idiosyncratic voices.” She rises from the ashes on her captivating new album, Get Behind the Wheel, picking up the pieces of her shattered world and finding new purpose after watching her marriage, her band and what felt like her entire career fall apart in a series of heartbreaking implosions.
The Chicago Sessions is a throwback to Rodney Crowell’s early days of making records, but it’s no nostalgia trip. The songs here are vital and timely, touching on everything from love and mortality to race and religion, and the performances are nothing short of intoxicating, fuelled by raw guitars, honky-tonk piano and tight, punchy drums. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy wields a light touch as a producer, his influence subtle yet unmistakable, and engineer Tom Schick’s mixes are dynamic and alive, alternately lush and spacious in all the right places with a spotlight fixed firmly on Crowell’s warm, weathered vocals throughout. Put it all together and you’ve got a masterful, cross-generational collaboration that manages to feel both fresh and familiar all at once: an incisive, engaging collection that balances careful craftsmanship with joyful liberation at every turn.
As Therapy?’s fourth decade finally gets underway in earnest, they release their sixteenth album, Hard Cold Fire. The album was written and pre-produced during an unprecedented time for music, and it’s hefty, compact, and accessible. This is a distillation of everything that has made them what they are: hewn from County Antrim basalt, still possessed of their stoicism, but casting a renewed focus on catharsis and healing.
ATUM is a rock opera in three acts by inimitable American rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. This is an epic interplanetary story set in the not-too-distant future, though the individual songs themselves stand on their own in the Pumpkins pantheon. This is the final installment in a concept album trilogy, which began with 1995’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and continued with 2000’s Machina / The Machines of God. The album features three original members of the band – Billy Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin – as well as longtime guitarist Jeff Schroeder. Corgan had been developing the idea for the rock opera for years, and the pandemic gave him the time off the road to meticulously complete it in the grandiose way he had intended.
In Ed Sheeran’s own words, “I had been working on Subtract for a decade, trying to sculpt the perfect acoustic album, writing and recording hundreds of songs with a clear vision of what I thought it should be. Then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art. Writing songs is my therapy. It helps me make sense of my feelings. I wrote without thought of what the songs would be, I just wrote whatever tumbled out. And in just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts.”
Our release of the week is Folded Landscapes, the ambitious fourth studio album by groundbreaking Scottish composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper. Known for merging modern classical-electronic music with evocative storytelling and conceptual art, Erland shares his urgent observation on climate change, temperature and time. This poignant chamber string work figuratively and literally thaws over seven movements, unfolding with electronics, poetry, soprano, piano, harpsichord, field recordings (including the California wildfires and crashing glaciers) and samples. The work features Scottish Ensemble, UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and other voices including activist Greta Thunberg, multi-award winning conservationist Dara McNaulty and visual artist Norman Ackroyd.
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