Happy Friday! Though the weather's returned to what it admittedly definitely should be in late February/early March, don't despair. This week has also seen a drop of what's arguably the best music to come out of 2019 so far. Have a look for yourself in our New Music Fridays playlist below, along with some words on our favourites.
Solange – When I Get Home
This week the inimitable Solange Knowles began teasing a series of cryptic clues online that hinted at A Seat At The Table’s awaited follow-up. On Tuesday the singer posted a link to an elegantly designed profile on BlackPlanet, which was followed by a video snippet referencing rapper Mike Jones, and then by what appeared to be a tracklist, sleekly presented like an architect’s blueprints in all black.
True enough, this morning When I Get Home was released in all its glory: 19 tracks of brooding jazz instrumentals with deep, bouncy bass synths above which Knowles’ characteristically spiritual falsetto flutters.
Separated by abstract snapshot interludes, the fourth studio-album feels more sparse, minimal and perhaps undecided than its predecessors; there are certainly fewer, if any, distinct melodies that extrude as ‘Cranes in the Sky’ did so beautifully on Seat, but listened to as a whole the effect is of a swirling, cerebral journey. JB
Durand Jones & The Indications - American Love Call
Everybody loves Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and the like. And if you’re thinking “Mmm I don’t”, believe me you do, you just don’t know it. That 70s soul sound is a high watermark for popular music, balancing energy and emotion with relatable and thoughtful lyrics over beautifully arranged instrumentals.
One group that definitely loves the sound is Durand Jones & The Indications, whose new album is undoubtedly indebted to the Motown era. In general I’m not so into acts that pull so directly from their influences, but there’s something about this album that sounds fresh.
Soul and funk have never really gone away, but there’s no doubting the sound has had a resurgence in recent years. On American Love Call, Durand Jones & The Indications act almost like hip hop producers who sample their influences to create something new, able to take the parts of soul’s golden era that have aged the best and put them in a contemporary setting.
What strikes me the most is that the album conveys how relevant soul is in 2019. The genre’s ability to convey social and political unrest while remaining smooth and entertaining is ideal for the undeniably politicised era we find ourselves in now. AW
Little Simz – GREY Area
A week on from her 25th birthday, Little Simz has released the best album of her career to date. Having followed the North London rapper since her E.D.G.E and AGE 101 EPs, and being there to witness a crowd eating out the palm of the then 20-year old (performing as a special guest at a Soulection show in London), it’s been obvious to me that she has a lot to offer.
Yet somehow, previous albums A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons and in particular Stillness In Wonderland – for all their artistic creativity, originality, and lyricism – left me feeling like Little Simz was capable of even more.
With GREY Area, Simbi has properly cracked it – eschewing grand concepts or literary themes to create a captivatingly personal album that balances light and shade, introspection and self-assuredness. The result is a perfectly formed record that firmly cements its creator as one of the UK’s best. Long live King Simbi. JK