Romantic tension has always played a part in the xx’s music. A little over four years since their last album, the group’s latest work, I See You, addresses this subject more directly than ever, with a soul-bearing collection of songs about reconciliation and the start of something new.
California singer Gavin Turek may as well have stepped out of 1970s. She’s making new dance music with an obvious admiration for old-school disco and the electro of 70s and 80s.
As well as singing and songwriting, Turek has contributed to music by TokiMonsta and soul man Mayer Hawthorne’s group, Tuxedo. She’s also release tributes to Donna Summer and electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder.
Katy B had many of us bottle-popping and hip-shaking along to her wavy, 90s-style house and garage when she dropped her Mercury-nominated debut album, On a Mission, in 2011. The making of her last album, Little Red, was an ordeal in and of itself, judging by comments at the time. By comparison, her latest album is a tantalising gift to her dance music following.
In the words of director and artist Simon Frederick: “Black is the new black”. And few things this year have brought delight, joy and open-mouthed awe to me than the sight of black sisters rocking natural curls with pride. Alicia Keys, Solange, Corinne Bailey Rae, Fleur East, Nao and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, to name but a few of the music world’s natural hair heroes.
But what has hair got to do with music – and Lion Babe specifically? More than you’d think. Hair is an express of the self. And anyone who knows what it’s like maintaining an afro, day in, day out, will tell you that – just ask Erykah Badu, India.Arie or Solange. Jillian Hervey, Lion Babe’s majestic frontwoman, wears a mane of golden curls that look as though they were a gift from the goddess Oshun herself.
Hervey’s natural hair journey – as well as the fact she is the daughter of singer and actress, Vanessa Williams – brought her face to face with taunts, teases and pressure for her to conform to her attacker’s standards of beauty. But, as she told Glamour magazine earlier this year, returning to natural hair led her to feel “very comfortable in my skin and really confident about who I was”. The Lion Babe of today could not exist without this comfortable, confident brown-skinned wonder woman.
What do you get when you blend a vigorous dance beat with cool choir vocals and eager slap bass licks? The gravity-defying new single from Justice, ‘Safe and Sound’.
US R&B singer and pianist, Alicia Keys, has long delivered soulful grooves that move your hips as well as your heart. After taking things in a more straight-laced direction with her last album, Girl on Fire, she’s returned with a song steeped in tropical flavour.
There’s warm vibrations and a hint of Bernard Edwards basslines on this new track from Miami producer, and Def Jam signee, Jahkoy.