Nowadays, Kanye the celebrity is far more of the focus than Kanye the musician. “I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create”, West tweeted on September 14, 2016. That may be the entertainment tweet of the year. For real. But this, nor West’s bizarre fashion line can change the fact that his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, is a muddled affair that lacks real direction.
Quite how Gregory Porter has risen to become a globally-recognised figurehead of jazz is hard to explain. But the sincerity and warmth of this Sacramento singer’s voice surely has a lot to do with it.
Twenty-year-old Loyle Carner has a disarmingly truthful way of describing the hardships of being a young urbanite in a nation where the cost of living is slowly choking so many.
Argo Records, 1960Listening to Etta James can bring you as close as it’s possible to get to heaven without leaving your physical body behind you. Take the title track of her phenomenal debut album, At Last!: when James’s pure voice rises in perfect concert with the nuzzling strings, it’s as if flowers have spontaneously sprung into bloom, the clouds have parted and, for three glorious minutes, all is well with the world.
Polydor Records, 1999This month sees the return of a pop band that signifies my generation is now firmly in the category of ‘nostalgia marketing’ in the eyes of the music industry: S Club 7. The announcement last November that Tina Barrett, Paul Cattermole, Rachel Stevens, Jo O’Meara, Hannah Spearritt, Bradley McIntosh and Jon Lee would be returning – with a reunion performance on BBC Children in Need and a 2015 UK tour – sent ripples of ecstasy through my Facebook feed (occupied, as it is, nowadays by engagements, work outings and the occasional overboard night out).