My week just gone has been filled with the funk and disco of Shalamar and McFadden & Whitehead, and the classical romance of celebrated French chanteuse, Edith Piaf.
Kicking off 2017 in operatic style is the return of London Grammar.
Guitarist Dan Rothman, multi-instrumentalist Dominic ‘Dot’ Major and vocalist Hannah Reid rocked the hearts of all who heard their melancholy music when they debuted four years ago. The trio’s album, If You Wait, contained deep pools of emotion capable of bringing tears to the eyes.
EPs are to albums what starters are to main courses. Or, at least, that’s how it has traditionally been. These days, EPs take all kinds of forms, from two-track 12” records to mini-albums.
In the past, I’ve included selected EPs within my main album round-up. Now it’s time I gave these releases a spotlight of their own.
Soultress Lianne La Havas, house artists Disclosure and Snakehips, rapper Lizzo, enigmatic R&B singer Abra, and so many more have released some superb EPs. As always, I wanted to include more – especially the aforementioned artists, as I have had many of their tracks on repeat this year. But here’s my choice selection of 10 which have stayed with me, and all offer something special in their own right.
10. Sinead Harnett – Sinead Harnett EP
9. Flawes – Ctrl EP
8. Shakka – The Island EP
7. Throwing Shade – House of Silk EP
6. Marie Dahlstrom – 0.0 EP
5. Kojey Radical – 23Winters EP
4. Jodie Abacus – For Real Life and Not Pretend EP
3. Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP
2. Jorja Smith – Project 11 EP
1. Kesley Lu – Church EP
Laura Mvula’s powerful and nuanced Sing to the Moon was a remarkable album made even more remarkable by the fact that it was her debut. Her second album doesn’t manage the all-out excellence of her first time, but it still a superb album in its own right that shouldn’t be missed.
Japanese vibraphone player, Masayoshi Fujita, may not be using traditional Japanese instruments on his second studio album under his own name, but his music nonetheless feels connected to the culture and traditions of his home nation. Apologues is a porthole to the palace of the mind. An instrumental album of subtle grace that requests your presence, rather than demands it.
It’s ironic, really. For a game about battling ghoulish creatures in typically disquieting surroundings, the scariest part about MediEvil 2 was facing up to its many nightmarish foes. I mean that literally, because lining up the broad sword-swings and crossbow bolts of bony protagonist, Sir Daniel Fortesque, with the rotting, uncoordinated corpses that stand in his way is tougher than juggling with pumpkins.
Royal Albert Hall, London
It was as strange as it was humorous. Nils Frahm, the German composer and tonight’s second headline act for Prom 27, Late Night with BBC 6 Music, had retrieved a pair of toilet brushes and had begun using them to beat the strings of his open-topped grand piano. Yet, as is this virtuoso’s way, with each twang and tremble, an inquisitive rhythm took shape.
Sharon Van Etten has a voice that stops you in your tracks and holds there, leaving you staring somewhere into the middle distance, as her words float around your head. This Brooklyn-born, singer-songwriter so far has four studio albums to her name – her latest, Are We There, was released just last year. But despite a number of recommendations, Van Etten’s music is not yet in my music library. I know: what have I been doing to myself, right? Plenty of time to change that, thankfully, and what better place to start than her new EP, entitled I Don’t Want to Let You Down?