Artful – Barriers
In the years since the Artful Dodger dominated the charts, Mark Hill, otherwise known as Artful, has been hard at work producing arguably some of his best music. From the feel-good 2-step vibe of Could Just Be The Baseline with Kal Lavelle a few summers ago (just looked it up… it may be more than just a few summers ago – man time flies!) to the punchy and dramatic Wasteman with Donae’o, Artful has been delivering the goods musically. On Barriers he steps away from the 2step vibe for a more deep house flavour; think of a sound reminiscent of Reel Soul in their glory days. Lola Sanders delivers a solid vocal accompaniment to bring it all together nicely. I love how Artful is very much one for the vocals with a natural knack for finding the right voice to compliment his beats.
“…after everything that you’ve been through, nobody ever made a difference like you”, Lola Saunders sings towards the beginning of the song. Poignant words as they could easily have been written about Mr. Hill. His contribution to the British music scene over the last two decades has been second to none. Artful, we thank you for the music and look forward to the many tunes yet to come… always happy to re-re-rewind some Artful (sorry couldn’t resist).
Nakala – Another Time
While soaking up the latest treat from Artful I stumbled across this little gem of a record from Nakala.
It’s beautiful, it’s restrained, it’s full of repressed anger and it lingers in the air while this subtly soft piano just hums around in the background. Nakala’s tale of unrequited/unrealised love is full of these great dramatic pauses, the silence seems fill out the speakers even more than a another ever line could. The stillness in those silences makes the preceding line land with so much more impact. You could find “another time” to listen to Nakala, then again, right now is as great a time as any (especially as the track is available for download on her SoundCloud right now!).
Jessi Malay – Noises
I rediscovered Jessi Malay earlier this year while running up very steep hills in the morning. On Noises she delivers a very visceral slice of R&B. It’s intense, it’s bold, and it also has a few of those “did she really just say that, hold on let me rewind and check” moments! I love the way the swirling synths add a sense of drama throughout a chorus that bites and pulls you in. I like the way the bass just pulsates during the verses, like a tiger deeply breathing before it pounces. Jessi’s vocals over the top have a coarsely soothing tone to them which brings everything together nicely.
“Ooh yeah I like that sound” Jessi Malay sings and couldn’t have said it better myself as it’s really good to see Jessi Malay focusing on music again. She often sings acoustic versions of her records and I think it’d be awesome to hear this sung con guitar, if only to check up on some of the lyrics! 🙂
Nicole Scherzinger – On The Rocks
I had no idea Nicole Sherzinger had released a new album. Turns out back end of last year she released Big Fat Lie in Europe however it never made its way over to the US officially. I only discovered it as I was giving some of her older music a spin so thought to Google and see what she’s been up to musically. I have always had a soft spot for Nicole’s solo music. Songs like her cover of Dusty Springfield’s Breakfast In Bed and Supervillain, of Lie About Us with Avant, were great slices of R&B and she was never afraid to touch all corners of the R&B sound when recording music.
As far as her solo work (and her group work for that matter), I think Big Fat Lie is Nicole Scherzinger’s most accomplished album to date. It does not lean too heavily towards EDM as Killer Love felt to at times and has a refreshing freedom about it.
On The Rocks is my favourite from the album, a triumphant break-up song. Serving as the perfect antidote to the generally dreary and depressing songs about relationships gone bad. I like the assured fire in both the delivery and the lyrics. I know this one is a bit ‘old’ (hate how music is referred to as old sometimes, great music never ages) however Last.fm told me I listen to it 30+ times last week so it deserves a post!
Hoping Big Fat Lie gets a US release so she can go on a tour as it’d great to see Nicole Scherzinger perform live. Come to think of it, her and Jessi Malay should go on tour together because their music is the perfect compliment to one another. If either of you every read this, there’s a great venue in San Francisco called The Regency Ballroom – a show there will be fantastic (and it’s a ballroom so looks beautiful).
Ps. When I Google’d images I found that both Jessi Malay and Nicole Scherzinger have collections/connections with Missguided! Wouldn’t a concert with the two of them a fantastic brand event – as I said, there’s this great not too big venue in San Francisco!