Lady Wray released her long-awaited album Piece Of Me last week, and thankfully it’s a banger, the only drawback being that if you’ve kept up with the run of singles over the last couple of years, you’ve already heard half of it, including a lot of the best tracks. There’s still some previously unreleased gold in there though like opener I Do, and if you’re completely new to her music you’re in for an intensely soulful treat.
“My goal is always to help and to heal people with singing” says Lady Wray of her latest single, Thank You. “Part of that is to try and bring back real music, real singing, so people can feel something again.” Worked on me! Thank You is without question her most powerful, moving single since Piece Of Me.
The only thing that slightly bothers me about this is that Thank You is already the fifth single to be released from her new album Piece Of Me due out in January. It’s kinda sad that the way the industry is currently beholden to Spotify et al., we will have been exposed to nearly half the album before it lands. Albums are a sacred format – at least to me – and I’d much rather listen to one in its entirety not knowing what’s coming next, rather than already being overly familiar with it. Sufjan’s Beginners Mind suffered from exactly this problem earlier this year: six singles had been released ahead of the album – pretty much all the strongest records on there – which led to a slightly underwhelming album release day.
But then that’s just me. I expect lots of people will just enjoy this without fretting about it so much.
Gabriels’ Jacob Lusk has never sounded better than on Stranger, one of the four tracks on the LA-based soul group’s second EP Bloodline, which ebbs and flows between sombre reflection and full-on, string-led, orchestral bombast. An extremely assured next step on an increasingly impressive path: widespread recognition is surely on the horizon.
This is the debut single from Brazilian artist Yvy Maraey, working in collaboration with Berlin-based US rapper Mike Nasa. Incorporating elements of Bossa nova, hip hop, rnb and soul, A Família sits somewhere between Solange and Buscabulla, with a slow, chugging beat providing an earthy base for her sublime vocal. One to watch, for sure.
There’s a lot of brilliant music out today, most of which will at least get a little coverage on various blogs, big or small. But I’d like to draw your attention to Volta Sunset’s new single Trip, a stripped-down, shuffling, soulful cut that you won’t find anywhere outside of Soundcloud, and is a really incredible piece of work. Dreamy, atmospheric, understated and hypnotic, it’s reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s quieter moments and deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.
Atlanta R&B queen Lady Wray drops her brilliant new single Through It All, a dusty, soulful gem to power us all through a dreary Monday, and the latest stepping stone on the path to her new album Piece Of Me which lands in January. If you haven’t yet heard the title track, it’s absolutely incredible, so expectations are high for this one.
London-based artist cktrl broke through with his debut Robyn EP last year, and safe is the final track from his new four-tracker zero which landed last week and starts life with a gently billowing cloud of echoing brass and soothing strings before ending with safe, a bassy, sensual, trappy cut with gorgeous vocals and a satisfying depth to its production.
French-Senegalese artist anaiis released her 12-track debut album this is no longer a dream earlier this month, which includes this absolute gem of a first track. The album is a self-reflective exploration of the last few years of her career and the effect success has had on her (amongst other things), and is never more engaging that on undulations, which pairs her delicate vocal with hushed piano chords for an utterly spellbinding opener.
Blending pop, R&B, soul and at times some fairly experimental electronica on her latest album 3, Sydney-based artist Ngaiire certainly can’t be accused of playing it safe, and the album is a constantly shifting joy that seems to delight in playing with your expectations of how a polished ‘pop’ album should sound, then gleefully doing something else entirely. Unapologetically sincere and packed full of infectious rhythms, highlights are many – the awesome Shiver also deserves a mention – but Glitter gets the nod from me for being an absolute banger.
Helmed by producer and saxophonist Pete Cunningham, the Bristol-based Ishmael Ensemble’s announced themselves as a new force in UK jazz with their 2019 debut A State Of Flow, a record I completely missed as I am vehemently opposed to anything jazzy, or jazz-related. Until now it seems, as I absolutely love their new album Visions Of Light, and Feather in particular which is amongst the more beautifully chill things I’ve heard for ages. It would actually be easier if this record didn’t exist as I was quite happy in my jazz-ignoring bubble, but here we are.