Drake, James Blunt & Soulwax Lead Albums Of The Week - March 24
Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:49:51
This week in album releases is a collection of personally reflective, publically brave attempts of creating art. Songwriters step into the light, whilst in the darker corners lights are flashing and dancing is happening, so there's contrast, but also a strange continuity to the artists offering tunes for your listening pleasure.
Drake, the biggest commercial sound, comes with a follow-up to his show-stopping Views — and he manages to redefine the issues that fix his focus. James Blunt celebrates love, and all the things he's celebrated before, but in a revised approach that brings wit, bravery and his best writing in years. Soulwax are back with their first release (under this project) in a decade, and it's a full on dance-pop party. Craig Finn from the Hold Steady delivers his best solo album to date. And Mount Eerie delivers an album of such staggering beauty that it moves beyond music, and holds a mirror to our own humanity.
So, without further ado — a few more details on the albums that have captured the best of what's been shared this week...
Drake — "More Life" — Young Money Records
Well, it seemed to come from nowhere — and it certainly took many fans by surprise, but perhaps we should have realized a new album, and follow-up to record-breaking Views was due. Drake returns with the seemingly impossible task — to go beyond the accomplishments of that album, which held that song. More Life, is an apt title for the task in hand… these are songs that reflect all the other stuff that extend beyond audience expectations of Drake the man. He drops some of the self-sorrow of Views, he doesn't attempt a 'conventional' album — this thing scans like a playlist — and he further explores things like 'other cultural sounds' that interest him, and in doing so he digs his way out of the shadow of the past and into a present which is, well, interesting.
James Blunt — "The Afterlove" — Atlantic Records
James Blunt has recently been earning a reputation as one of the funniest wits on social media. His Twitter account is everything you want from an artist's feed. It's humble, sharp-witted, honest and oftentimes sarcastic with haters who don't know how to handle a man who knows how to handle himself. This behavior is also a fair reflection of the latest album from a man for whom credibility has been a mountain to climb. The Afterlove makes Blunt almost transparently honest — his wit is sharp as well as his self-deprecation, but also self-determinism shines, and the result is an album of strong songs with unique vision that wrap up much more than one may expect. Sing-along moments follow sing-along moments, and there are plenty of opportunities for us to recognize ourselves, and our friends and lovers in the references Blunt employs. It's a great, friendly album, and displays why Blunt has longevity and a reputation beyond his one big hit.
Mount Eerie — "A Crow Looked at Me" — P.W. Elverum & Sun
Simply put, A Crow Looked At Me is an album that does way more than any other album has achieved this week. It is brave, brutal and heartening that Phil Elverum has delivered art in the shadow of his wife's premature death. This album is a deep meditation, not only on death and love and loss, but also on the grain of humanity that elevates us from process, and allows spirit to be filled. Elverum doesn't seek out those positive things, he is not here to sugarcoat or dress hardship for the emotionally stunted. He is nothing but brutally clear about the pain that he's enduring. But somehow, there are other implications here — he didn't simply curl up — he created art that stands here for all of us. Meaning is found in small things, because big things are too big to fathom. The pain is real, but so is the beauty, and this album is a totem to the human condition. It's flawless in it's pain and you should listen.
Craig Finn — "We All Want The Same Things" — Partisan Records
The Hold Steady's Craig Finn returns with his third solo album. It's the most self-assured, better realized writing that we've heard from his solo endeavors. Finn stands and reflects on times when he was out of his depth, or left things unsaid. So these songs are sometimes bewildering in their message, and they have a perspective that may rely a little too heavily on the "we've all been there, right?" approach to craft… however, when the answer is "no", the real answer is "but we know what you mean." Finn builds personal references in such a way that we can all fathom an atmospheric, if not academic, understanding of life. The result is an album that will stop you in your tracks and demand replay.
Soulwax — "From Deewee" — Play It Again Sam
The return of the Dewaele brothers is good news for Soulwax fans. Following an absence of about ten years the Soulwax name is back, stretching it's legs, filling its lungs and offering 50 minutes of material. Strictly speaking the album is a follow-up to last year's project that the brothers released under their Die Verboten project — that was called 2007, and it was also very good. This album is synth heavy, it's pop-tastic and it reminds us why we're devoted to all things Soulwax — they simply never let us down, even if they make us wait too long.
Get Drake "More Life" from iTunes
Get James Blunt "The Afterlove" from iTunes
Get Mount Eerie "A Crow Looked at Me" from iTunes
Get Craig Finn "We All Want The Same Things" from iTunes
Get Soulwax "From Deewee" from iTunes
—The ARTISTdirect Staff