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folklore (deluxe version - explicit)

Taylor Swift

Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2020 | Taylor Swift

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
It’s important to remember that before becoming a gold-standard pop star, Taylor Swift grew up on Nashville country music. Music City's folklore now seems a long way off for the thirty-year-old singer. However, Taylor Swift has never stopped dipping her pen into the same ink as her cowgirl elders, perfectly handling romance, heartbreak, introspection, sociopolitical commentary and personal experiences, such as when she sang of her mother’s cancer on Soon You’ll Get Better… It was in lockdown, with restricted means and limited casting, that she put together Folklore, released in the heart of summer 2020. The first surprise here is Aaron Dessner on production. By choosing The National’s guitarist, whom she considers one of her idols, Swift has opted for a musician with sure-footed tastes and boosted her credibility among indie music fans. She hammers this home on Exile with Justin ‘Bon Iver’ Vernon (the album’s only duet), a close friend of Dessner's with whom he formed Big Red Machine.This surprising, even unusual album for Swift is by no means a calculated attempt to flirt with the hipsters. And it really is unusual for her! No pop bangers, nor the usual dig aimed at Kanye West; the album is free of supercharged beats and has delicate instrumentation (piano, acoustic guitar, Mellotron, mandolin, slides…). Folklore toes a perfect line between silky neo-folk and dreamy rock. It’s as if the star had tucked herself away in a cabin in the forest to dream up new ideas, much like Bon Iver did in his early days… By laying her music bare and relieving it of its usual chart music elements, Taylor Swift has added more substance to her discography. This is clear on August, which would never have resonated as well if it had been produced by a Max Martin type… Upon announcing the album, Swift wrote online: “Before this year I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect’ time, but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed. My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.” A wise decision for a beautiful and mature record. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Duruflé : Complete Choral Works

Houston Chamber Choir

Classical - Released April 5, 2019 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime - Grammy Awards
This spectacular new release of Maurice Duruflé’s complete choral output uncovers hidden gems of French classical music. Infused with modal harmonies and plainsong, Maurice Duruflé's choral works look back to Gregorian chant. The composer also found inspiration in the likes of Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy, incorporating definite lines and close harmonies into his music, and the result is astonishingly simple. His works were part of a whole stylistic movement in the 20th century (one that was far removed from neoclassicism) that tried to trace music back to its origins, separating itself from all the trappings of theatre and performance, and moving away from the highly abstract tendencies that characterised much of the music in the post-war period. Is Gregorian chant the “mother” of all music? Quite possibly. Duruflé aimed to create a serene, gentle mood all the while echoing a contemporary trend, one that was still emerging yet already rather developed, centred around harmony and floating atmospheres in the hope of bringing people together in communion. With little to show by way of recordings yet much by way of talent, the Houston Chamber Choir give a beautiful performance of the French composer's works. Their radiant singing is well worth discovering, made all the more breathtaking by the generous acoustics of the Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall at Rice University, which allow the conductor Robert Simpson to use broad phrasings. The conductor adds an especially touching quality to these naturally expressive works, making this recording – which is as moving as the composer's earlier recordings (Erato) - an ideal gateway into Duruflé’s hypnotic universe (Messe “Cum Jubilo”). It should be noted that despite his relatively long life, Duruflé’s composed only fourteen works. His final composition Notre Père (which lasts just ninety seconds!) was written especially for the Catholic Church though was never performed due to its sheer difficulty. This modest number of compositions reflects Duruflé’s crippling self-criticism and continuous search for perfection. This Houston Chamber Choir recording is a wonderful opportunity to rediscover one of the best kept secrets of the 20th century. © Qobuz

Please Don't Be Dead (Deluxe)

Fantastic Negrito

Rock - Released October 5, 2018 | Cooking Vinyl

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards

The Window

Cécile McLorin Salvant

Vocal Jazz - Released September 4, 2015 | Mack Avenue Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
After bursting onto the scene in 2013 with the brilliant WomanChild, Cécile McLorin Salvant raised the bar two years later with For One To Love, an even more impressive and complete album on which her voice worked wonders, and the more traditional Dreams & Daggers, recorded live at the Village Vanguard and the DiMenna Center with her faithful trio, the Quatuor Catalyst and the pianist Sullivan Fortner. She chose only to work with the latter of the two for her 2018 vintage album titled The Window. Born on August 28th, 1989 in Miami, Florida, she studied French law, baroque and vocal jazz in Aix-en-Provence in France before winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010 (at only 20 years old, in front of a panel of judges made up of Al Jarreau, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patti Austin, Dianne Reeves and Kurt Elling!). For this album she decided on a vocal-piano duet. A baptism of fire which further demonstrates her astounding vocal ability. It is an album that also focuses on the complex nature of love through covers of songs by Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein and even Stevie Wonder. This is further proof that Cécile McLorin Salvant is anything but the cliché of a jazz singer, as trumpeter Wynton Marsalis puts it: “ You get a singer like this once in a generation or two…” © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Zealot Canticles

The Crossing

Classical - Released September 28, 2018 | Innova

Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
The small Philadelphia choir The Crossing and its director, Donald Nally, have shown that contemporary music specialists can succeed with carefully selected repertory that connects with audiences. A case in point is this work by composer Lansing McLoskey, whose background is in punk rock but whose compositional style shows little effect of that. Instead, he crafts a neotonal idiom that gradually intensifies and becomes edgier as the work proceeds and the idea expressed in the texts deepen. And what texts they are! The work is based on a set of poems called Twelve Canticles for the Zealot by Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, lamenting the rise of intolerance and fanaticism in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world. McLoskey combines those with excerpts from Soyinka's other writings, including interviews, lectures, and speeches as well as his memoir The Man Died. The cumulative effect is to draw links between contemporary religious fanaticism and the legacies of other forms of repression, and McLoskey catches the counterpoints in Soyinka's thinking in his music. It's hard to get the changing flavor of the whole by sampling a single track, so listen widely. © TiVo

Woman Worldwide


Electronic - Released August 24, 2018 | Genesis

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
Live album or studio album? Woman Worldwide falls right between the two; it’s the synthesis of a huge one-year tour and the meticulous work by the French duo. It all began with their third album Woman, released in 2016, which gave rise to the creation of one of the most impressive live shows the following year. However, Xavier De Rosnay and Gaspard Augé have not just revisited Woman, they have also drawn from their previous two albums (Cross and Audio Video Disco) to create this supercharged mash-up. But for this duo, simply releasing an album isn’t enough. Their label Ed Banger adds that "After a year of testing, performing, refining and recording on the road, they returned to the studio in Paris to give their songs the finish that live performance doesn't always allow.” At first glance, the result seems enormous: you are quickly lead through ten years of Justice with a power that has never been reached before by the French duo. It shakes, it lifts, it explodes. But when you listen to the remix again, the mixing and arrangement work is so thorough that you can understand why one of the most talented electronic duets on the planet have chosen to present this work as a studio album. Our only regret is that no exclusive tracks have been included; it could have alleviated the pain of waiting until the next record. © Sylvain Di Cristo / Qobuz

Fuchs: Piano Concerto "Spiritualist"

Jeffrey Biegel

Classical - Released August 10, 2018 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
JoAnn Falletta's fifth Naxos album introducing the music of American composer Kenneth Fuchs consists of three concertos and a song cycle, showing aspects of his work in contrast with the previous orchestral releases. Where Fuchs has capitalized on vernacular style in his American Rhapsody, Discover the Wild, An American Place, and Quiet in the Land, this program is somewhat more abstract in concept and mostly focused on virtuosity in its own right, instead of evoking mid-20th century Americana. To be sure, the rural lyricism and rugged rhythms of Copland are never far from Fuchs' imagination, but the focus is on abstract art in the Piano Concerto, "Spiritualist" (after three paintings by Helen Frankenthaler), or more general imagery, such as Glacier (concerto for electric guitar and orchestra), and Rush (concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra), all of which explore the technical possibilities of their solo instruments, set against colorful orchestral accompaniment. Even the Poems of Life (twelve poems by Judith G. Wolf for countertenor and orchestra) diverges from Fuchs' populism and ventures into more personal and intimate subjects, far removed from the public essays that have won him his largest following. In any case, the patriotic touches that have made Fuchs' music popular with concert audiences are kept to a minimum, and the exciting performances by pianist Jeffrey Biegel, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, guitarist D.J. Sparr, and alto saxophonist Timothy McAllister, supported by Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra, will go far in bringing new listeners to this series. © TiVo

All Ashore

Punch Brothers

Rock - Released July 20, 2018 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
Here’s a delicious sound stew in which the Punch Brothers have put the best Americana sounds. For this fifth album, Chris Thile, mandolin player and singer, offers with his four accomplices an ensemble of ballads full of sweetness and suitable for meditation. In total, All Ashore contains nine tracks and becomes the first self-produced album of the band. Recorded in Los Angeles and released by the Nonesuch label, All Ashore is, according to Thile, like a work of “meditation on committed relationships in the present day”. The Punch Brothers update here the typical instruments of Americana. Banjo (Noam Pikelny), fiddle (Gabe Witcher), mandolin (Chris Thile) and guitar (Chris Eldridge), supported by double bass (Paul Kowert) and vocals. In respect with traditional music, they lead into modernity, both in a music and lyric sense. The note is as important as the lyric, if not more… The Punch Brothers don’t indulge in excessive chatter. Each expresses himself through his instrument, as evidenced by Three Dots and a Dash or It's All Part of the Plan. Through instrumental superimposition, the riffs go one after another, as well as the permanent swinging between nuances and rhythms. While their precedent album, The Phosphorescent Blues, was wandering on the Bluegrass path, notably with titles like Boll Weevil or Forgotten, you will find no recycling here! The pop filled with folk is well and truly there, but Jungle Bird nonetheless evokes a rather quirky blues. It’s a perfect transition between these two albums… And let’s not forget Thile’s melodious voice. In perfect harmony with the playing of his comrades, he displays a great vocal mastery. Whether holding a high note or tackling a lighter and jolting singing, he is always filled with intensity. In the end, All Ashore is a small gold mine, whose richness is accessible to both amateurs and long-time fans. © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz

Shostakovich : Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11 "The Year 1905"

Andris Nelsons

Symphonies - Released July 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Grammy Awards
Clocking in at over an hour for the Fourth, and almost an hour for the Eleventh or "1905", these are the two longest and fullest of Shostakovich's symphonies. What's remarkable is that the Fourth, finished in 1936, was only performed in 1961 – eleven years after the performance of the Eleventh in 1957! It was in 1936 that the poor composer felt a bullet whistle by him, following an infamous article in Pravda, dictated by Stalin: "Chaos in Place of Music", which torpedoed the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk: the work was carefully locked away, only to be brought back out once the dictator was dead, buried and comprehensively decomposed. You can see where the composer was coming from! The tone of this Fourth hasn't the slightest hint of optimism, We hear dark Mahlerian accents, desperate flights and tortured harmonies: not exactly the music of a bright tomorrow. The Eleventh, structured according to a "political" programme, celebrating the revolutionaries of 1905 and the tragic events of Bloody Sunday – when the Russian army fired on a crowd, killing 96 according to official sources and several thousand according to others – with a much more optimistic tone, although we know what optimism means in the world of Shostakovich. The two symphonies were recorded at public concerts, in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 respectively by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their conductor Andris Nelsons. © SM/Qobuz

Everything Is Love (Explicit)

The Carters

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 16, 2018 | Parkwood Entertainment - Roc Nation

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
 The ultimate luxury for the biggest stars is to be able to randomly release an album without warning. Although much anticipated ever since their first collaboration in 2002, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s common album surprised everyone on June 16th, 2018 at the same time as Nas and Kanye West’s NASIR. Strange coincidence indeed. Following the blueprints of Jay-Z’s 4:44 and Beyoncé’s Lemonade, EVERYTHING IS LOVE is an album focused on the introspection of an extraordinary couple and the analysis of their celebrity. Its nine tracks are both a celebration of black success and a sharp critique of today’s society. This album is also the symbol of reconciliation, a link between the two lovers who had been rumoured to be close to breaking up and who worked, both behind the scenes and publicly, to put their grievances and disputes behind them, using them to fuel their artistic aspirations. In its form, Everything is Love falls within today’s norms, echoing them with lavish lifestyle and African-American honour. The couple once again edges towards the grandiose, sharp yet conscientious musical universe of Pharrell Williams, producer on “NICE” and “APESHIT”. Beyoncé’s pop range blends with Jay-Z’s more soul-jazz influences thanks in part to the work of Cool & Dre, particularly at ease orchestrating this genuine balancing act. More often on the forefront than her husband, Beyoncé drops a proper display of power, fiercely rapping on several tracks, playing with her image and pushing many boundaries. Jay-Z stands by his prestigious standing, at time lazily, but with a few flashes of genius, like on “FRIENDS” and “LOVEHAPPY”, on which he talks family and dynasty. With EVERYTHING IS LOVE, the Carters accomplish the feat of remaining untouchable and consistent with an intimate and contrasted project. The royal family is doing just fine. © Aurélien Chapuis/Qobuz

The Blues Is Alive And Well

Buddy Guy

Blues - Released June 15, 2018 | Silvertone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
Damn Right! Who could disagree? Of course Buddy Guy has blues in the blood! The Chicago guitar legend is saying it on this album:  The Blues Is Alive And Well ! At 81 years old, it seems better than ever, and has a lot to teach the youth. This is a punkier, rocker bluesman than the present generation, who knows how to bring the blues to a white audience. Old fashioned? The accusation would not offend Buddy Guy, who's just playing his guitar right. Here, the guitarist is discussing the blues with guests who have the stature to hold a conversation with him. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck and James Bay feed his talent, and stay in perfect harmony with his genius. And what would be blues without talk of booze and old friends? On  CognacMuddy Waters, Buddy Guy seems to shed twenty years when he evokes.It's too late to sip a brandy with him, but now it's got Keith and others for company. Getting up in style, filling up on booze and the blues, dealing with a hand that can not end: that's the spirit of the blues. Beyond the music, there is a real discussion that starts between guitar riffs, piano chords and the singer's penetrating voice. Better than a trance, this is a stairway to the underworld opening up. And then there's such a captivating groove on  The Blues Is Alive And Well . It's a great declaration of love for the genre, which, through loneliness, poverty and suffering, remains a faithful friend, a life-saver, an intimate journal. Perhaps the album should be seen as a kind of passing-onward of the blues to the generations to come. Blue No More give a fair account of the idea. It's a duet where Buddy Guy is face-to-face singing with the Pearly Gates. It does not dampen his mood at all, because he knows that he is going to pick his baton. And James Bay echoes his master's words back to him: "I will not be blue no more". © Clara Bismuth / Qobuz

Bates: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Kelly Markgraf

Opera - Released June 15, 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
It's inescapable: love him or hate him, Steve Jobs was a real character. By turns a visionary, an inventor, a despot, a manipulator, he took his computer business to the top of the industry. Long a public figure, he is now a character in an opera, brought to life brilliantly by Mark Campbell and composer Mason Bates, two great explorers of the most offbeat corners of American lyric art. Their opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs , first performed in 2017 in Santa Fe, presents the IT magnate and his inner circle around the time of the foundation and development of their business, his friends and his enemies, all in an extravagant musical language, in which Bates introduces a leitmotif for every new character and situation, with instrumental colours, dedicated themes, and also interjections of electronic sounds, from – you've guessed it – computers and mobile phones made by the firm itself. There's also some jazz thrown in (the symphonic jazz of Bernstein or Gershwin), and some very progressive rock, with atonalism and chromatism, as well as Adams-style minimalism. Bates stays firmly within the realm of classical lyricism, because his modernity has nothing to do with avant-gardist destruction: rather, it's a new creation based on existing elements being used in a thoroughly original and personal way. This recording was made at the world première in Santa Fe in summer 2017. © SM/Qobuz



Reggae - Released April 20, 2018 | A&M

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
Sting and Shaggy: not such a surprising tandem! In 1979 Police’s leader released Reggatta de Blanc, a second album under the Jamaican influence that fed the reggae-punky wave at the time of the Clash, PIL, Ruts Madness, as well as Bob Marley himself. Gordon Summer, who has always been fascinated by Caribbean rhythms, never truly broke away from them. So when his manager Martin Kierszenbaum, who also works with Shaggy, let him listen to his next dancehall hit song, the bassist made the trip from his Malibu home to do a featuring. The understanding between the Jamaican artist and the ex-Police singer was stellar and the track became the single Don't Make Me Wait. And six months later, 44/876, the tandem album was complete. From Crooked Tree to Dreaming In The USA − which restored the US image −, the two companions gave us a most surprising album that blends reggae, dancehall and catchy pop, without falling into ridiculous clichés. “This is exactly the record the world needs right now”, according to Orville Richard Burrell a.k.a. Shaggy… © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz

Invasion of Privacy

Cardi B

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 5, 2018 | Atlantic - KSR

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Grammy Awards
Cardi B, the High Priestess of social media, has created an indestructible identity appearing in strip clubs and on reality TV. A sheer outspoken force, she capitalised on this reputation by pulling all of her energy into her passion: music and rap. And then came a small miracle, Bodak Yellow. In this track borrowed from rapper Kodak Black, she perfectly showcases her Bronx smooth talk, her boundless energy and her extreme sincerity. Opting to ride a harder line in the vein of Remy Ma or Gangsta Boo, Cardi B asserts herself without leaning towards Nicki Minaj’s pop. Propelled to the status of a brand new and original voice, she has achieved posterity, but the future still holds a few unknowns. In Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B turns all of her qualities into hits. She ticks all the boxes, going from the club formula of DJ Mustard with YG, to motivating minimalism with the Migos. Some choices are less obvious like the ballad with unclassifiable Kehlani, the sun-filled smile with Chance The Rapper, and even this provocative anthem for female freedom with rebellious SZA. All the guests are well chosen, presenting Cardi B under different lights, with widely eclectic atmospheres eventually reaching the radiant Latino tune I Like It. But once again, it’s in her solo performances that the rapper is most convincing, with Get Up 10, a technical and harrowing introduction in the vein of Meek Mill, and Bickenhead, the triumphant and feminist cover of a Project Pat’s classic. In each interpretation, the rapper appears laser focused, outrageous at times, but always extremely articulate, and aptly expressive. Her Latino accent creates an atypical and original rhythm. Each defect of pronunciation is used as a musical weapon in all kinds of situations. Cardi B uses her multi-labelled identity to play on words and try other elaborated internal rhymes, which make her even more enigmatic. Invasion of Privacy comes through as a true open book with maybe just a few torn-off pages, an invitation to learn more even though we already know too much… Always balancing between connivance and honesty, Cardi B successfully passes the always-tough milestone of the first album. And she takes the opportunity to strengthen her proximity with the public through a few mad gestures and an unfiltered writing. As for everybody else, she becomes the highly relevant icon of a new generation seeking a form of virtual authenticity. © Aurélien Chapuis/Qobuz

Songs of Orpheus

Karim Sulayman

Classical - Released April 6, 2018 | Avie Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards
The American tenor Karim Sulayman, of Lebanese background, has previously been heard on recordings with the Cleveland-based historical-performance group Apollo's Fire. He is backed by members of that group here in his solo debut, with the larger Apollo's Fire heard on the instrumental sonatas distributed through the program. Those point to the real strength of this release. Sulayman has a wonderfully resonant voice, and he contributes, in his singing and in an elegant note, a sense of personal involvement with the story of Orpheus, mythology's most famous vocalist. A collection of 17th century pieces related to Orpheus, a story intimately entwined with the development of opera, was a good idea in itself, but where Sulayman really excels is in forging a little "I love you to hell and back" narrative to tie together these pieces by Monteverdi, Giulio Caccini, Dario Castello, Giovanni Paulo Cima, Sigismondo d'India, Stefano Landi, Antonio Brunelli, and Tarquinio Merula. Some of the instrumental sonatas are quite unusual, and all relate vividly to the stage of the story under discussion. Sample Castello's Sonata No. 2 in D minor, proceeding into Sulayman's rendition of Tu se' morta from Orfeo. (An audience of the 17th century, one suspects, would have loved both the idea and its execution by Sulayman, who manages to produce a big yet intimate sound. The engineering loses some of that intimacy; the suburban Cleveland church where the music was recorded is wrong for the repertory. But this a fine early Baroque vocal release from the American Midwest, where early music is still not a terribly common find. © TiVo

Golden Hour

Kacey Musgraves

Country - Released March 30, 2018 | MCA Nashville

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Grammy Awards
In 2013 when, to everyone's surprise, the impeccable Same Trailer Different Park won the Grammy Award for best country album, Kacey Musgraves wisely dodged the pitfalls of Nashville: namely, the temptation to become yet another knock-off Taylor Swift. And it shows in her lyrics about homosexuality, dope smoking and single mothers – themes that are none too popular on the more conservative fringe of American country music... for Pageant Material, her second work, which came out in summer 2015, the Texan continued in much the same vein. Where a song looks to be setting out on a well-worn, cliché-ridden path, our young cowgirl gives a sharp tug on the reins and really makes the writing shine. We alternate between pure country and pop country, by way of some numbers with much more of a slightly retro rock flavour, with banjo and pedal steel guitar, or, going the other way, languorous violins... Without completely revolutionising the genre or rattling the walls of Nashville, this daughter of Golden, Texas certainly left fans wondering what her next album was going to look like... In Spring 2018, Kacey Musgraves gave them their answer. A third album, this time slanted a little more towards pop. While country fundamentalists might switch off, the curious would do well to listen to Golden Hour to the end. It might be the fact of her recent wedding to colleague Ruston Kelly that colours this record with love with a capital L. Without coming off soppy, these love songs offer real emotion and a new sincerity. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kacey Musgraves said she was influenced by Neil Young, Sade and the Bee Gees! Quite an eclectic and surprising triumvirate, but after listening to Golden Hour right the way through, it makes sense, kind of. Let yourself be carried away by songs that flower like an Indian summer, and their strikingly moving melodies. © Max Dembo/Qobuz

Steve Gadd Band

Steve Gadd Band

Jazz - Released March 23, 2018 | BFM Jazz

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards

By the Way, I Forgive You

Brandi Carlile

Pop - Released February 16, 2018 | Low Country Sound - Elektra

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Brandi Carlile does not lay idle. Between her new life as an LGBTQ mother which she openly displays or her activism with the association War Child, she has found time to return to the studio for the sixth time. As a mother, the hallucination of an America at the edge of cracking infused the story of what she considers the most intense of her career. By The Way, I Forgive You, entwined by the evangelical theme of forgiveness, co-produced by Shooter Jennings (the son of the late Waylon) and Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Lori McKenna) succeeds the country folk of The Firewatcher's Daughter (2015). Ten tracks totalling 43 minutes, touching on topics such as Carlile's family, politics, identity and the faithful twin Hanseroth (Fightings Machinists). The strings were arranged by the late Paul Buckmaster (Elton John, David Bowie, Rolling Stone or Leonard Cohen) and its all packed into an emotional style of country made for a broad audience. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz


Kronos Quartet

Electronic - Released January 19, 2018 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Grammy Awards - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Accessibility and exclusivity are by turns peddled as a measure of value when the agenda dictates. Often, when Laurie Anderson's music finds favor with critics, it's the former they praise. Arguably, her work has always been approachable. It may not adhere to common structures, and often employs innovative resources for achieving original sounds. But at its core, her music has always been so warm, so human, and often so very funny that it never feels exclusive. Now in her fourth decade as a recording artist, she presents the album of a lifetime -- well, of one of them. Landfall pairs nicely with Big Science and Homeland as a concluding work in a trilogy of indefatigable imagination and compassion. Always adept at conjuring past, present, and future as if time flexes at her touch, those records share an underlying sense of doom, tempered by a healthy dose of the absurd and nods to the tragi-comic nature of collective existential dread. Her chief inspiration this time around was Hurricane Sandy and the things she lost in the flood. And this record sees her collaborate with the inimitable Kronos Quartet, who lend their exquisite string work to an album epic in scale and reach. Musically, the record navigates an uneven terrain with a fluid combination of acoustic instrumentation and electronic flashes that conjure a landscape both devastating and curiously fascinating. At this part of her career, Anderson remains as intrepid a sonic adventurer as ever. "Never What You Think It Will Be" embraces the very best of what electronic music can do, and it's electrifying in a way that most artists half her age can't muster. "Dawn of the World" is as much an experiment in agitation and anxiety as it is a song, and tracks like "We Head Out" feed into the record's sustained suspense, built on the metronomic ticks that pervade it, often scarcely detectable but quietly building tension nonetheless. Since her first single, "O Superman," and subsequent decades of innovation and experimentation, she has emitted a calm and measured air. It's not that the compositions aren't often thrilling and full of drama, it's just that her response is anything but histrionic. This is particularly true of her trademark spoken-word delivery. It's most curious, powerful, and affecting toward the end of the record where she recalls her flooded basement and ruined belongings and remembers, "I thought how beautiful/how magic/and how catastrophic." It's impossible to know whether some of the loss evoked on the record is a response to the death of her husband Lou Reed in 2013, but one suspects the elegiac reflections extend beyond ruined keyboards and props: while it may be inspired by Sandy's fallout, Landfall's reach runs to a sea of loss, chaos, and confusion. It's an elemental mystery of quietly epic proportions made exceptional through clarity of thought and feeling. © Bekki Bemrose /TiVo

From The Fires

Greta Van Fleet

Rock - Released November 10, 2017 | Lava Music - Republic Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
Do you like Led Zeppelin? Mitten State retro-rockers Greta Van Fleet sure do, and their debut long-player -- it's actually a pair of combined EPs -- delivers enough Plant-induced "Oh mamas," genuine Page-turners, and cavernous Bonham-esque beats to reforge the hammers of the gods ten times over. Comparisons to the band's 1980s doppelgängers Kingdom Come are inevitable, but unlike those Zep clones, who arrived at a time when hard rock and hair metal were still fairly relevant, Greta Van Fleet are outliers, a trad rock band in an era that's more concerned with EDM drops than hot licks. Still, their unbridled enthusiasm for all things classic rock is kind of endearing -- their oldest members were barely of legal drinking age at the time of the recording -- and that fresh-faced approach to such well-worn tropes helps elevate the material. It's awfully easy to spot the Zep cut that served as the inspiration for each song -- "Safari Song" ("In My Time of Dying"), "Flower Power" ("Hey, Hey, What Can I Do"), "Highway Tune" ("The Rover"), etc. -- but there really isn't an iota of cynicism to be found. The future will not be too kind if subsequent efforts continue to climb the stairway to heaven, but there are worse ways to get your Led out. Ramble on, gents. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo