This is coming a day late, but not (hopefully) a dollar short. My main reason for waiting this long to cover the new music releases of this week is that iTunes’ Best of the Week list did not refresh until Friday afternoon, which is quite a bit later than usual. I was too busy yesterday afternoon with preparation for a ministry commitment that evening to set aside the time necessary to write this post. Before we get into the songs, there’s a few observations & disclaimers I want to make about this series of posts.
The first thing is that because I’m writing these reviews so soon after the music is released, there’s a certain immediacy to everything that’s featured here. At this point I can usually tell with maybe 90-95% accuracy how well I will like a given song after the first or second time listening to it, especially if it’s in a genre that I listen to much of. That said, it’s not unheard of for a song that doesn’t stand out to me on first or second or fifth listen to eventually grow on me and become one of my favorites. So a few songs that I’ll eventually spend a fair amount time with will inevitably slip through the cracks here.
The second item is that I’m aware of the limits in my listening tastes. For example, at present, I don’t listen to a lot of rap and hip-hop music. I like a lot of pop, rock, folk and alternative music, and some electronic and dance music as well. So what’s featured here is fairly limited to those genres. There’s plenty of music that people will enjoy that I don’t feature here. This is about the music I like.
Finally, I want to make note that I don’t strictly discriminate what music I feature here when it comes to lyrical content. I’m a believer in Jesus, and I take very seriously the obligation to live consistently with that faith, which is why, for example, I personally find it impossible to enjoy a song that features gratuitous profanity or any kind of language that degrades another person made in God’s image (including, but not limited to, any way of speaking about another person that reduces them to a sexual object). That said, an occasional instance of profanity or cursing is not a total turn-off for me. I am generally not one to favor profanity in language, and I’m more strongly opposed to cursing (and I will probably write about why this is at some point). But I am much more interested, in the final analysis, with what an artist is trying to say, and listening to songs that others have written is a way I can broaden my understanding of human realities and learn to see the world through other eyes. All of these questions about how we as believers in Jesus can engage with the world around us will be an ongoing subject of discussion on this blog, but for now…
…let’s get into the new music.
There were social media rumblings about a new song called “Ready to Change,” but Irish pop-rock band Kodaline surprised everyone this week, dropping not only that song but three others in a four-track EP called I Wouldn’t Be. The title track is a gorgeous hymn that pays musical tribute to the band’s Irish roots. It sounds very much like something the High Kings would do, even featuring touches of the uilleann pipes. My other favorite from this release is called “The Riddle“, although the aforementioned “Ready to Change” is receiving the most promotion right now, with a brand new music video. How all of this relates to the June single release of “Brother” (a gorgeous song in its own right) is uncertain. Are they setting up an LP release? Is “Brother” just a single, and I Wouldn’t Be just an EP? Just a couple of months ago, one of pop music’s most successful artists and songwriters, Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic, discussed in an interview with Schön! magazine how he believes the future of pop music is more in single and EP releases than in albums. We might be seeing the beginning of that kind of an approach to creativity for Kodaline.
Moving on from there, pop singer-songwriter P!nk just let go of her new LP Beautiful Trauma. There’s several nice melodies on the album, but my highlights are “But We Lost It,” a gently syncopated piano ballad about a relationship that couldn’t be kept together, and “Better Life,” which has a preppy a capella feel. “Whatever You Want,” which I featured in last week’s roundup, is pretty good too.
There’s a great new country voice in town, and her name is Carly Pearce. She made some waves earlier this year with her wistful single “Every Little Thing,” and now she’s given the world her first full-length label release, named after the song that put her on the map. Every Little Thing the record is a nice blend of traditional and current sounds. There’s a fair range in terms of tempo and energy, but Carly is at her best with sweet ballads like “I Need a Ride Home,” “You Know Where to Find Me” (no youtube link yet) and “Dare Ya“.
In the singles department:
AWOLNATION is back with their first single in some time, “Passion.” It’s a little stupid and a lot of fun.
One of my favorite folk-country acts, The Wailin’ Jennys, have been working on a covers album called Fifteen, which is expected in two weeks on the 27th of October. Their latest single from that upcoming release is an Emmylou Harris tune called “Boulder to Birmingham,” which, fun fact, has also been covered by The Fray. It’s a lovely song, and made even more so by the Jennys’ perfect harmonies and gentle acoustic backing.
This summer I came across this awesome alt-country-folk band from Canada called The Deep Dark Woods, and ever since I’ve been a fan. They’re promoting their LP Yarrow right now (also due two Fridays from now), and the newest single is (I think) the best so far. It’s called “Deep Flooding Waters,” and was inspired by an actual experience with a flood several years ago.
Another recent discovery for me has been alt-folk singer-songwriter Julien Baker. She writes a lot of beautiful, raw, aching ballads about human vulnerability, especially related to the subjects of anxiety and depression. “Turn Out the Lights,” the title track and newest single from her upcoming second LP release (which is also [!] due on the 27th of October) is just that sort of song. If the last minute doesn’t absolutely knock. you. flat, well, then I just really can’t help you.
In other news. There’s this Christian hard-rock-and-sometimes-metal band out there called Red. As far as that genre goes with me, they are actually pretty good. (Just about everything they do is absolutely drenched in desperate emotion, which is something I personally like.) They’ve got a new song this week called “Gone,” and a new album also by that name which is also going to hit online stores and streaming sites (how is this even possible?? stop it already) on the 27th of this month. “Gone” the single sounds a fair bit like many of Red’s big songs from the past in terms of style, but there are some synths that hint at a more electronic sound for this new record.
Last one for this week: Brandon Heath came out with a sweet R&B jam (featuring Tauren Wells) called “Got the Love.” I swear there is no style this man cannot do. We’re gonna hear Brandon’s sixth studio album, Faith Hope Love Repeat, next week, and with this week’s single and “Whole Heart” from this summer setting the stage, I have high hopes for the rest of the project.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your Saturday!