JOAN ARMATRADING / “Into The Blues”
Consistent with the theme (see this week's Cover post) of music I listen to when I'm feeling optimistic (or just wishing I was), here are three recent songs that I've had in heavy rotation lately.
First is "Dias De Janeiro" by Tita Lima, a young Brazilian singer. When Tita's debut album 11:11 came out last year (in '06), it hit me like a fresh, cool breeze on a stifling hot day. As in the case of "Chiclete Com Banana," I can't understand the words, don't know what a single song is about, but I really like this album anyway. Everything about "Dias De Janeiro" says to me: mellow out, take it easy, stop complaining, life is good. Sometimes, that's a message worth hearing. By the way, Tita is the daughter of the bassist and producer known as 'Liminha' from the Brazilian MPB band Os Mutantes, and not coincidentally, that's Tita herself playing bass on "Dias De Janeiro."
Next up is a tune by a young British singer around whom there's an almost unbelievable amount of hype. It's "He Can Only Hold Her" by Amy Winehouse and for once, the hype is justified. For her new album Back To Black, Amy wrote all ten songs (three of the ten along with co-writers and one aided and abetted by an Ashford & Simpson sample) and all ten are damned good. It's not everyday that I buy a new CD and find myself listening to every song every time, but since I finally picked up Amy's CD a few weeks ago, it hasn't left my car CD changer (and I've haven't been using the 'skip' button either). Aside from the scathing diatribe "Rehab" (as in, "I said, 'No, no, no!'") all of Amy's tunes are about the dark, weird side of love. Her sometimes harsh, sometimes comical lyrics are set to music that I can only describe as retro, but it's an odd half-in-half sort of retro - classic Sixties R&B on the one hand and classic Eighties hip-hop on the other. It's an unlikely, but surprisingly effective mix. "He Can Only Hold Her" makes my point. The piano, horns and exhuberant daa daa daa's are straight out of the Sixties, while the heavy, heavy drum kicks and scratched-up vocal drops are straight out of hip-hop's Golden Age.
Last is the title track from Joan Armatrading's soon-to-be-released (May '07) album Into The Blues. When I heard Joan's new album was going to be blues-based, I wasn't all that excited, imagining some sort of cleaned-up yet maudlin British attempt at covering classic blues numbers. I should've known Joan would come stronger than that. Instead, it looks like the songs are all originals (I'm guessing from the track listing; I haven't heard the whole album yet) and if "Into The Blues" is any indication, the songs are going to be good. I'm still working on the lyrics, but the instrumentation is gorgeous: a perfect example of how a genre of music based on pain and suffering can somehow lift your spirits and make you feel better just by sitting there with your ears open. "My baby don't like rock and roll, that hip-hop or pop," Joan sings. "My baby's just into the blues." I don't know exactly why, but I'm feeling that.
—Mtume ya Salaam
I hear you Mtume. Brazil is popping for sure. I’m going to resist the temptation to drop more Brazil into the mix. I’ll go with a contemporary neo-soul singer taking on “Day Dreamin’," an Aretha hit. This cut is from Tamia's 2006 album Between Friends.
Tamia has one of those fresh, church voices floating atop a beats heavy arrangement. I’m also leaving on the interlude, so you can hear that she’s got a great feeling.
Now Zoe is an Afro-German (Liberian father/German mother), born in Liberia, reared in Germany. She is dropping an upful ska single simply called “Rock Steady” taken from her second and most recent album, Exile African. This is the All Star Version featuring an array of Jamaican artists. If you go to Zoe’s myspace page, you can also see the video for this single.
Just two quick numbers to help us enjoy spring.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Nice, Baba, nice! When I hear that some young singer is trying to remake an Aretha song, I don't exactly anticipate good things. And Tamia in general usually leaves me feeling ambivalent, like, "not bad, but not good either." Her cover of "Day Dreamin'" I do like though. I like it a lot. And you're right - it's got that nice pre-summer vibe. The Zoe is happening too. ... I hope y'all feel like dancing this week. We're trying to liven up those cubicles! :-)
—Mtume ya Salaam
This entry was posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2007 at 1:22 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
2 Responses to “JOAN ARMATRADING / “Into The Blues””
Leave a Reply
| top |