The first of this week’s six picks is Jolie Holland’s latest, Haunted Mountain. It’s a beckoning, confronting place; at once ancient and of the moment, it hums with literary and political interconnections. The songs illuminate states of dispossession and alienation, lust and pollination: a state of reciprocity with our living planet. The record is a creation beyond genre, a refined jewel refracting anti-patriarchal dance music, sultry anti-fascist love songs to bats and bees. The album’s rendered environments – ranging from sparse acoustic constellations to dense electronic atmospheres – are punctuated with nuanced percussion from cicadas, drums and even knuckles on piano.
Roger Waters releases his homage to one of the most iconic albums of all time: The Dark Side of the Moon Redux marks the 50th anniversary of the original. Waters says: “When we recorded the stripped-down songs for the Lockdown Sessions, it occurred to to me that The Dark Side of the Moon could well be a suitable candidate for a similar re-working – partly as a tribute to the original work, but also to re-address the political and emotional message of the whole album.”
Through evocative, emotionally resonant music, Goodbye, Hotel Arkada, the new album from American harpist and composer Mary Lattimore, speaks not just for its beloved namesake – a hotel in Croatia facing renovation – but for a universal loss that is shared. Here are six sprawling pieces shaped by change: nothing will ever be the same; and here the artist, evolving in synthesis, celebrates and mourns the tragedy and beauty of the ephemeral, all that is lived and lost to time. Documented and edited in uncharacteristically measured sessions over the course of two years, the material remains rooted in improvisation while glistening as the most refined and robust in Lattimore’s decade-long catalogue.
The Asylum Years (1972–1975) is the latest entry in Rhino’s ongoing, Grammy-winning series exploring the vast untapped archives of rare recordings by Joni Mitchell – a project guided intimately by Mitchell’s own vision and personal touch. The collection begins with an early cut of ‘Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire’, one of two songs (along with ‘For the Roses’) test-driven during a visit to a Graham Nash/David Crosby recording session at Wally Heider’s in Hollywood. From there, listeners are treated to early demos and alternate versions from sessions from For the Roses, Court & Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns; historic live show recordings, including the entirety of Mitchell’s triumphant 1972 return to Carnegie Hall and a definitive gig with her Court & Spark backing band, Tom Scott & the L.A. Express; and tracks from sessions cut alongside James Taylor, Graham Nash, and Neil Young.
Ghosts is the sound of an ever-evolving artist; and, just as the album’s title suggests, Hania Rani passes repeatedly and gracefully between musical worlds: as composer, singer, songwriter, and producer. This album builds on Rani’s earlier solo successes, Esja and Home, with an expanded yet still minimal setup of piano, keyboards and synths (most importantly her Prophet) and features more of her mysterious, bewitching voice. Its spirit is warm, beckoning the listener into an ambitious double album that unfolds at an exquisite pace, informed by her revelatory, exploratory live performances.
Our release of the week is Javelin, each track on which starts intimately: the trickle of an acoustic guitar, the patter of a lidded piano, and the cascade of a coruscant arpeggio. And then, of course, there is Sufjan Stevens’ disarming voice, the throughline in one of the most eclectic catalogues of any songwriter this century: soft but strong, as if the very scenes of hurt and hope it is about to share have only galvanised it through the decades. Javelin pairs musical sweep with emotional breadth, an entire lifetime of feeling woven into 42 minutes. On Javelin, Sufjan returns, offering gorgeous if pained glimpses of himself, so that we may see ourselves more fully.
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