Thursday, March 24, 2011

My favorite albums this week

I listen to a lot of music, and I realize that I don't write much about it.  I regularly try to listen to at least one new album every day.

My musical day usually starts with me listening to ClassicFM first thing in the morning.  I like that I get to hear the afternoon traffic on the A40 while I'm in my morning shower.  It makes me feel like they come from the future.

Then by the time they get to the evening full works concert, I shift over to Napster.

This week I'm digging on:

The Tudors Soundtrack.  In 1992 I was pretty much addicted to the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves score for the same reasons I like this one so much, almost 20 years later.  I like it because it's atmospheric, evocative, and moody, like a soundtrack should be, but also because it brings in so many of the elements of the music from Henry's time without being overtly obvious- the dancing melodies, and the hints of polyphonic harmonies that were becoming so popular in the early 16th century, but with a modern interpretation and modern instruments and production.  I highly recommend listening to An Historic Love first, before anything else.  It will seriously make you wish that Henry and Anne hadn't worked out the way they did.

Adele: 21.  I first fell in love with Adele two years ago when 19 was on eMusic (don't even get me started on the hot mess that eMusic has become these days), and Chasing Pavements was one of their editor's picks.  I love how she sounds like all of the greatest women in jazz - she channels Billie Holiday and Etta James like a pro - and both her voice, and her lyrics are ridiculously mature for someone so young.  This new album is already in the running for Album of the Year, and it hasn't even been out for three weeks yet.  Sometimes, as with Mumford and Sons, pop music gets it right, and I'm not one of those music snobs who refuses to listen to anything the "Establishment" likes - if the pop world gets it right, then so much the better for them, and everyone who gets to be introduced to Adele.

Gallicantus: Dialogues of Sorrow.  In 1612 King James' son Henry died of typhoid, and this album is a collection of the grief recorded in music.  Gallicantus is an early music vocal group, supported on this album by the lute.  Grammophone called it an "outstanding disc" and they were right to do so - the voices are clear, the harmonies are lush, and you can almost touch the sadness, it's so real.  This is a recording that every early music fan should have, and if you're not already familiar with the world of Early Music, it is a fine introduction.  There's nothing more I can say that isn't already summed up in the Amazon review:  "...the singing is indeed exquisite in absolutely every way one can judge it. Each individual voice was incredibly attuned to the words and the meaning thereof."

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