Tag: Sting

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello Releases Tender and Joyful Cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, JOVM mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello– and as you may recall, the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany and was raised in Washington, DC.  When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with a number of local acts including Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello eventually caught the attention of Madonna, who signed the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist to her Maverick Records. Most readers will remember her commercially successful collaborative coverof Van Morrison‘s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp, a single that peaked at #3 on the BillboardCharts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine‘s “Album of the Year.”  Her coverof Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Ndegeocello has also collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping  on “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx,Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti,The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissetteand Zap Mama.

Throughout her lengthy career, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feet of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromising and iconoclastic artists of the past 25 years — all while being credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul sound, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, jazz, rock, reggae and singer/songwriter pop. Over the past few years, Ndegeocello has been rather busy — she wrote and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and released a gorgeous tribute album to the legendary Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with fellow JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

Ventriloquism, Ndegeocello’s later album was released earlier this year, and the album finds the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist covering songs by  TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, who have been influential to her and her work — but with her unique take. As the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist explains in press notes, “Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, and when I didn’t do that, I lost support. There isn’t much diversity within genres, which are ghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something even just a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.” Ventriloquism’s first single was a coverof Force MD‘s smash hit “Tender Love,” that found Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning, 80s piano ballad into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. Though she eschews some of the song’s cheesiness, which makes it endearing in its own right, Ndegeocello’s cover retains the song’s earnestness — pointing out that a well-written pop song can reach for something downright timeless. 

The album’s latest single is a cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity,” that briefly nods at Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” as it’s centered around loose, bluesy guitar chords, shuffling drumming and a New Orleans brass band-like bridge — and while retaining the song’s sultry nature, Ndegeocello manages to pull out and further emphasize the song’s tenderness.  Much like its predecessor, the new single continues Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations on what music created by and performed by black artists should sound like and be like. 

Directed by the Cass Bird, the recently released video for “Sensitivity ” was specifically released in conjunction with the end of Pride Month — and in our dark and uncertain age, the video is a much-needed burst of joy and humanity, as the video was specifically cast to focus on faces, body types and identities that are less conventional, less celebrated and often misunderstood, capturing these people at their most vital, most joyful and most human — whether dancing, tenderly embracing, kissing and loving. Certainly, the world would be a much better place if there was more love and more gentle and human moments. 

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New Video: Introducing the Global, Genre- Blurring Sound of Up-and-Coming Benin-born, New York Artist Shirazee

Shirazee is  Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist and singer/songwriter, who studied in Ghana, overcame homelessness and after spending a stint in Atlanta, relocated to New York to pursue his dream of being a performer and singer/songwriter. Since then, Shirazee has written for and collaborated with Afrojack, Sting, Ty Dolla $ign and Kiesza — and as a solo artist, the Benin-born, New York-based artist has received attention from Wonderland, OkayAfrica and Hunger Magazine, as well as millions of streams across Spotify and Apple Music for a sound that draws from Afropop, American hip-hop and contemporary electronic music paired with songs that possess underlying personal narratives.

The up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist’s debut EP Make Wild finds him collaborating with the Brooklyn-born and-based hip-hop artist and producer SAINt JHN — and as the Brooklyn-based artist and producer says of their collaboration, “he’s a friend first and a rising star in his own right second. When he heard me playing Juju in Toronto and asked to jump on it, I thought he was kidding, until he insisted, ‘Juju issa vibe!’”

“Make Wild,” the EP title track and latest single is a breezy and summery track featuring thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and looping guitar lines, and a sinuous and infectious hook — and while managing to be a slickly produced amalgam of African pop, Afrobeat, American electro pop and soul, the up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based artist manages to do so in an incredibly accessible, crowd pleasing fashion.

Produced by WOVE, the recently released video employs the use of incredibly vibrant video, full of colors meant to evoke sunset over the Sahara Desert as Shirazae sings to a gorgeous woman just out of his reach. 

New Audio: Introducing the Gorgeous and Meditative Pop of Treya Lam

Treya Lam is a Brooklyn-based, classically trained vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who specializes in crafting cinematic material centered around Nina Simone-inspired piano, meditative guitar, lush chamber pop arrangements and gorgeously ethereal vocals. Lam has shared stages with Yo-Yo Ma, Billy Taylor and has frequently collaborated with renowned guitarist Kaki King. Interestingly, Lam is the first artist signed to King’s label Short Stuff Records, and her forthcoming Kaki King-produced full-length debut Good News continues Lam’s collaboration with King, as King also played several instruments on the album. Along with King, the album finds Lam collaborating with an accomplished array of female musicians, including Catherine Popper (upright bass), who has performed with Ryan Adams, Jack White and Norah Jones. 

Good News’ first single “Magic” is a gorgeous and meditative song featuring a hauntingly atmospheric arrangement featuring slide guitar, ukulele and mbira — and while sonically nodding at 70s AM rock, Sting’s “Fragile” and Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game,” the song was written as a gift for close friends, who had just become parents; in fact, the mother, Megan Faye contributes violin and ukulele on the track. As Lam explains in press notes, “In 2012 one of my closest friends had just given birth to a child. The couple met on a flight to Hawaii after having spent some time in Africa and I had hoped to allude to this by incorporating the mbira, ukulele and slide guitar. The chorus was written the week that the Sandy Hook shooting took place. Beyond the unspeakable loss of 20 children and 6 adults, I was horrified by the idea that the surviving children in that community would lose their childhoods. . .This is not a song about a perfect world but rather one that aims to encourages listeners of all ages to look for, hold onto and create as much magic as we can.” As a result, the song has a deeply meditative and sobering vibe, just underneath the gorgeous arrangements; after all, it’s a reminder that in our constantly connected yet fragmented world, that we should be paying attention to the small moment that make us human. 

Live Footage: Warhaus at Music Apartment

Maarten Devoldere is  Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has received national and international attention for both his primary gig fronting Balthazar and his side project Warhaus. And if you had been frequenting this site over the course of 2017, you may recall that Devoldere’s side project has managed to further cement his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane and hyper-literate and decadent art rock with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility in a way that’s reminiscent The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake. In fact, unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derives its title from a line in DH Lawrence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and naturally, the material on Warhaus’ debut thematically focused on lust, desire, the inscrutability of random encounters,  bittersweet and aching regret with a deeply personal, confessional nature of someone baring the sinew and fiber of their soul as you would have heard on an album track like the slow-burning and soulfully sensual “Machinery.”

Interestingly, the material on Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore effort reportedly found Devoldere’s work at points giving way from decadence, lust and sin towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, with songs partially inspired by Delvodere’s relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. “We’ve very different people,” says Devoldere. “She’s this natural force which I don’t understand at all and I’m the guy who thinks everything through. It’s an interesting combination.”  Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by Dr. John‘s legendary The Night Tripper period, as you’ll hear hints at voodoo rhythms and hints at jazz — and although his touring band, aren’t technically known for being jazz musicians, as Devoldere says of his band, “they’re good at faking jazz.” And as you may recall, album singles “Love’s A Stranger,” and “Mad World” are slow-burning, ruminative songs with a late night, boozy vibe — after all, “Love’s a Stranger” focuses on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature while “Mad World”  focuses on unfulfilled lust and desire but within an angst-filled world that’s gone mad. And while focusing on different things, the songs seem to focus on our own desperate escape from loneliness in a bitterly cruel, uncaring universe. 

I recently came across some live footage of Warhaus performing a set featuring material off both of their albums live in an intimate and gorgeously shot showcase for Music Apartment back in 2016. Simply put, more people should know about this act. 

New Video: Warhaus Returns to Cement Their Reputation for Crafting A Boozy and Decadent Late Night Soundtrack

Over the better part of this year, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring Belgian singer/songwriter and guitarist Maarten Devoldere. Perhaps best known as the frontman and primary songwriter of the Belgian indie rock act Balthazar, an act that features members, who hail from Kortrijk and Ghent, Belgium; however, Devoldere has started to receive both national and international attention with his solo, side project,  Warhaus, which has further cemented his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane and hyper-literate material with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility with his work managing to simultaneously nod at the surrealistic and moody art rock of The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake, complete with a decadent and boozy slide into sinful ruin. Unsurprisingly, one of his earliest Warhaus efforts We Fucked a Flame Into Being was derived from a line in DH Lawrence’s classic, erotic novel Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and the material thematically focused on lust, desire, the profound inscrutability of random encounters — with a decidedly European decadence and a deeply personal, confessional nature, as you would have heard on the slow-burning and sensual “Machinery.” 

“Love’s A Stranger,” an equally slow-burning rumination on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature and on adultery was interestingly enough, the first single off Devoldere’s sophomore Warhaus album, a self-titled effort slated for release on October 13, 2017 through [PIAS]  Recordings.  The material on Delvodere’s sophomore Warhaus effort was written largely on the road, as well as on a remote Kyrgyzstan retreat with only a local shepherd for company, and was recorded back home in Belgium. But whereas his previously recorded efforts focused on sin, lust and love — with a bittersweet aftertaste, reportedly, there’s at points where the worldly cynicism gives way to sincere, honest love; while pairing his boozy baritone with the gossamer vocals of his backing vocalist and girlfriend Sylvie Kreusch throughout. “We’ve very different people,” says Devoldere. “She’s this natural force which I don’t understand at all and I’m the guy who thinks everything through. It’s an interesting combination.”

Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by Dr. John’s legendary The Night Tripper period, as you’ll hear hints at voodoo rhythms and hints at jazz — and although his touring band, aren’t technically known for being jazz musicians, as Devoldere says of his band, “they’re good at faking jazz.” And with “Mad World,” the album’s woozy and boozy, late night shuffle of a second single, the backing band pair lush and atmospheric strings, voodoo and jazz-inflected rhythms with Devoldere’s boozy baritone. And while evoking something of a late night, drunken stumble, the song focuses on desperate, unfulfilled lust and desire but within an angst-filled world that’s gone mad — and Delvodere does so in a way that feels and sounds like a charmingly roguish and nasty come on. 

The recently released video for “Mad World” was directed by frequent collaborator and friend Wouter Bouvjin and Benny Vandendrissche and shot in one continuous take by Jeronimo Fantini Foradellas during some nighttime escapes in Magaluf, Mallorca, a city known for wild parting, boozing and casual sex  — and the video features Maarteen Devoldere initially dancing in neon-drenched street by himself before random pedestrians join him or jump in front of the camera. Personally, while watching the video, I was reminded of walking out of the Sugar Factory nightclub in beautiful Amsterdam at 4:00 in the morning, and as I was heading back to my hotel room near the Museumplein, I came across a group of rowdy and fun-loving kids who were dancing and chanting in the street. And although I was alone and far away from home, there was something strangely comforting and warmly ridiculous at that moment, perhaps because we were all trying to escape our own loneliness? 

New Video: Belgian Art Pop/Art Rock Act Warhaus Return with a Moody Rumination on Love

Best known as the frontman and primary songwriter of Belgian rock band Balthazar, Maarten Devoldere has received attention both nationally and internationally for his solo side project, Warhaus which further cements his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane an hyper-literate material with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility; in fact, his latest effort We Fucked a Flame Into Being derived its name from a line in DH Lawrence’s classic, erotic novel Lady Chatterly’s Lover — and unsurprisingly, the material on the album thematically focused on lust, desire, love and the profound inscrutability of random encounters, while being intense, decadent, sophisticated. And if you had been following this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about album single “Machinery,” a moody, slow-burning and sensual song that evoked smoke-filled, late night cafes and intimate jazz clubs just off the beaten path, of nights that take a decadent, debaucherous turn and not being completely in control; but with an underlying yearning and aching loneliness, as the song’s narrator desperately wants more than what he has but can’t put it to words.

“Love’s A Stranger” Devoldere’s latest single continues on a similar vein as “Machinery” as it’s a brooding, slow-burning yet wistful rumination on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature, with the perspective of someone who’s loved and lost, loved and fucked up and has recognized more times than what he’d like to admit that love simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Love is indeed a stranger, that comes and goes as it pleases — and you may not know when it’ll return, but it returns as it always does. Sonically, Devoldere’s smoky baritone is paired with a jazz pop sort of arrangement that reminds me a bit of Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun as twinkling keys, strummed guitar, gently padded drums and a supple bass line are paired with Devoldere’s husky and expressive baritone.

Directed by filmmaker and screenwriter Wouter Bouvijn, the recently released video for “Love’s A Stranger” is comprised of footage Bouvijn shot while accompanying the band on a week-long tour of France. Initially meant to be B-roll and for background, the Devoldere and his backing band were surprised that Bouvijn’s treatment was cut from intimate on the road, backstage and live footage, but as the Belgian filmmaker explained to Devoldere, “Did you expect me to put you guys with unplugged guitars on a desert hill?” Ultimately, the result is capturing a band at its most unguarded, rarely seen moments and while revealing the personalities, passions and friendships of its members, it also points at the strange, debaucherous loneliness of the artist’s life.

New Video: Swedish Dream Pop Sensation Linnea Olsson Takes You to Hell — and Back in New Video

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you’ve likely recall that I’ve written about Swedish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Linnea Olsson. After collaborating with Peter Gabriel, Sting, Ane Brun and Maia Hirasawa., Olsson quickly established herself as a go-to cellist; however, the Swedish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has recently begun to receive international attention for her self-described cello-driven fantasy pop.

“The Weekend,” which was released at the end of last year, was a swooning track featured Olsson paired a gorgeous and lush, classical string arrangement with highly modern and ironic lyrics describing a neurotic and delusional narrator, who escapes into her own revenge fantasies. And yes, Olsson’s latest single “Hall of Tragedy” will further cement her growing reputation for crafting swooning and gorgeous pop, and for her equally beautiful and plaintive vocals; however, while “The Weekend” possesses a quirky mischievousness and an atmospheric chamber pop quality, “Hall of Tragedy” pairs that atmospheric chamber pop sound with a brooding seriousness reminiscent of Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen.

Featuring Olsson’s stop-motion animation, the recently released animated video is according to Olsson an “apocalyptic children’s book video for grown-ups” that manages to illustrate what falling into deep, unyielding depression would feel like from the song’s narrator’s perspective. And as a result, it adds a deeply visceral and haunting feel to the proceedings.

Linnea Olsson is Swedish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who quickly established herself as a go-to cellist, thanks in part to her having worked with Peter GabrielStingAne Brun and Maia Hirasawa. Lately, Olsson has begun to receive international attention for her self-proclaimed cello-driven fantasy pop. Now, if you had been frequenting this site around the end of last year, you may recall that I wrote about “The Weekend,” a swooning and gorgeous track that reminded me quite a bit of Kishi Bashi as a classical string arrangement was paired with extremely modern and ironic lyrics describing a desperately neurotic and delusional narrator, who escapes into a world in which she’s an enormous star, who gets revenge on those who wronged her. Her latest single “Hall of Tragedy” thematically is much more serious; but it will further cement the Swedish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s burgeoning reputation for crafting swooningly gorgeous cello-driven pop — and in the case of her latest single, the song also serves as the perfect showcase for an undeniably beautiful vocals in what may be arguably be the moodiest and most atmospheric song she has released to date.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Humanist and Globalist Pop Sounds of Daby Touré

Daby Touré is a Mauritanian-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, who has had a lifelong love and obsession that began with listening to The Police, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson over the radio; however, he can trace the origins of his music career to when he taught himself the basics of guitar, while possessing an instinct that music was to be his life.

As a teenager, Touré relocated to Paris and his lifelong passion for music gradually drew him away from his studies in business; in fact, Touré began fully immersing himself in Paris’ jazz scene. And after several years of experimenting with his sound and songwriting, Touré met electronic music artist and producer Cyrille Dufay in 2003 — and the duo collaborated on Touré’s critically applauded breakthrough album Diam, an album that was signed to Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. Interestingly, as a result the Mauritanian-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter opened for Gabriel during the renowned British artist’s 2004 Growing Up World Tour, which allowed Touré to have a growing international profile — with the album being added to playlists across France and the UK.

In 2006, the Mauritanian-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter was nominated for Discovery of the Year in that year’s BBC World Music Awards and he released his sophomore effort, in which he collaborated with sound engineer Ben Finlay, who has worked with Peter Gabriel, Sting, Simply Red, Jeff Beck and Robert Plant; and mixer and engineer Tom Oliver, who has worked with Sinead O’Connor, U2, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen, Susheela Raman and Charlie Winston. The following year saw the release of his third full-length effort Stereo Spirit, an album praised internationally for material that possessed catchy hooks and singalong-worthy lyrics — while pushing his sound towards the genre-defying.

By 2009, Touré collaborated with bluesman Skip McDonald on the Call My Name EP, an effort that Sing Out! described as being “neither African nor blues, but instead pulls from both and also from rock, a touch of pop and even dub for a unique, appealing and — its as to be said — quite commercial sound. The two voices and styles complement each other perfectly, and the songs they’ve created – for they seem more like creations than compositions – summon up echoes of their histories, but end up in a hybrid that’s essentially completely new.” With the success of his collaboration with McDonald, Touré has collaborated with an increasing number of internationally recognized artists including French pop artists Francis Cabrel and Maxime Le Forestier on Touré’s 2012 French language effort Lang(u)age — and he’s performed alongside Bob Geldof, Rihanna and Enzo Avitabile, among others.

As Touré explains in press notes “I was born in Africa And all the traditional music I picked up when I was young is still in me and that doesn’t change. But in my music I am still searching, and mixing, and trying things and that’s what I am doing now. I have travelled far from the ‘traditional’ or ‘folkloric’ music of my country.” In fact, over the past few years, the Mauritanian-born, French-based singer/songwriter has increasingly has merged the linguistic sounds of the six languages he speaks while moving towards a more globalized and universal sound — all while maintaining the accessibility that won him international attention.

Although his most recent effort was 2015’s Amonafi, which was released through renowned indie label Cumbancha Records, the internationally renowned singer/songwriter will be in town for two sets at Subrosa on Thursday night and to celebrate the occasion, released the music video for album single “Oma.” Sonically “Oma” is a breezy pop song that owes a debt to dub and reggae as much as it does to traditional African folk music in a seamless fashion and with an infectious, crowd-pleasing hook Throughout, Touré sings in several different languages — including English for part of the song’s hook, which gives the song a jet-setting, globalist universality. And yet, the song draws from a personal experience. As Touré explains of the song “One day as I was walking down the street, I passed a woman and her children. She was alone, sitting on the ground, and asking for charity and nobody seemed to care. This woman spoke to me that day. She inspired this song. Oma is this mother’s cry.”

The recently released music video for the song is a fairly straightforward take on the song, that follows after the song’s thematic concern with the video having Touré encountering a homeless woman and her child, and Touré approaching this woman and her child for a friendly and empathetic conversation that influences his song.