Playlist May 2015

Van Morrison

Eschewing the typical duets route that pairs a legendary veteran with younger artists on ancient hits, Morrison digs deep for more obscure album tracks and sings them with contemporaries such as Steve Winwood, Georgie Fame, Chris Farlowe and P.J. Proby. He also sings with influences such as Mavis Staples and Bobby Womack. George Benson, Taj Mahal, Mark Knopfler and Mick Hucknall round out this mellow soul-jazz outing, along with a few younger artists such as Joss Stone and Michael Bublé who are worthy matches to Morrison’s distinctive growl. While “Moondance,” “Gloria” and “Browned Eye Girl” aren’t included here, Morrison proves that even as he approaches 70 this year, he is incapable of making a bad album.

Mark Knopfler

Even before he left Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler had done soundtrack music and worked as a producer. Since he left he has collaborated with various artists and made 9 superb solo albums over 20 years. Despite being UK-bred Knofpler’s music echoes American influences, as is the case on this outing with hints of J.J. Cale. Knopfler continues to work with longtime keyboardist/producer Guy Fletcher on this release and Fletcher’s keyboards are quite prominent in spots. Hints of Irish folk and other musical flavors, along with a pronounced attention to studio perfection, make this yet another CD for testing high-end sound systems.

It Was Triumph We Once Proposed…Songs of Jason Molina
Glen Hansard

This is only the second album Glen Hansard has released since his departure from Swell Season, the duo that sparked the film and play Once. It
is a five-song EP of the music of Jason Molina. Molina was the leader of the group Songs: Ohia, which morphed into the Magnolia Electric Co. He died of an alcohol-related illness in 2013. This album has more of a straight, sparse, unadorned rock band sound in contrast to the sweet lush folk of Swell Season or the joyous, raw abandon of The Frames.

(One Little Indian)

Returning with what is essentially her breakup album with artist Matthew Barney, the Brooklyn resident and Icelandic multi-media artist has made another confounding, beautiful, heartfelt, musical piece. The instrumentation here, as on some past works, primarily consists of techno beats and sweeping strings and
perfectly complements that one-of-a-kind voice that is truly Björk’s signature. Lyrically, Vulnicura is her most autobiographical album and one that will stand as a turning point.

The Neck is a Bridge to the Body
Kaki King
(Short Stuff)

A follow-up to her 2012 album Glow, this release will delight fans of guitarist Robert Fripp and the ambient recordings of his sometime collaborator Brian Eno. This is the “soundtrack” of an immersive multi-media project with Glowing Pictures that used King’s guitar playing as the springboard for abstract visuals. While King would also make for a great opening act for Björk, with this release she now becomes a major player in the revival of ambient instrumental guitar music.