Instant Replay: 047
Girl Blue — Can't Hide Forever
I was recently introduced to Girl Blue and her fascinating voice. This track has more than a whiff of the early aughts and a really catchy refrain. Nice bop to get you optimistic for spring on a cloudy March afternoon.
Zahra Lux — Revive My Soul
For us songwriters, winter is a paradoxical time. After hunkering inside — and thus stuck in our own heads — for one too many weeks, we engineer an escape vacation. Said irony is that we typically find inspiration in that new environment, and end up crafting songs despite attempting to rest. This time, one of Boston’s premiere heavy metal vocalists turns to her more candid side with vocal harmonies as luxuriant as the panoramic Nevada mountains spawning the lyrics.
Tedeschi Trucks Band — Anyhow
I was watching TV and an ad for Chevy came on with the perfect music, and I know that because it gave me goose bumps and made me stop in my tracks. The announcer asks "Where will your new Chevy take you this year?" as the vocalist sings "I would go anywhere, anytime . . . "
I "Shazammed" it to find out what the music was, listened to it, and then bought the whole album. Turns out the song "Anyhow" is now my favorite song. The 12-piece band is part blues, part blues-rock, and entirely awesome.
Henryk Górecki — Symphony No. 3, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” II. Lento e largo
The three weeks of the Boston Symphony’s “Voices of Loss, Reckoning, and Hope” series have proven to be even more artistically powerful than I had anticipated. Preparing for CRB’s BSO broadcasts has put me in touch with a lot of unfamiliar works and, in this case, a piece I hadn’t heard in a long time but now can’t stop playing. It’s a piece that must be one of the most listened-to orchestral works written within the last half century (combining a best-selling recording and hundreds of concert performances). Górecki’s Third Symphony is that rare work that seems to stop time, shifting me into a contemplative state that both heightens my awareness of the difficulties and challenges of the world around us while somehow alleviating my anxiety about it.
Ornette Coleman — All My Life
March 9 was Ornette Coleman's 93rd birth anniversary. His music was radical and rootsy, a uniquely American sound that first pushed him to the outside looking in, but which was eventually recognized for a genius pouring through his saxophone playing and his hugely influential re-conception of ensemble improvisation.
From among scores of studio recordings from jazz quartets to orchestral compositions, it's hard to choose one track. "All My Life" is one of his very few compositions with words and a vocalist, in this case Indian music and film star Asha Pulthi. With a haunting melody and wistful lyrics, and Coleman's unique orchestration and core group of devoted musicians on display, "All My Life" is an inviting entry point into the work of one of the 20th Century's musical giants.
Caroline Polachek— Hopedrunk Everasking
A friend recently bullied (yes, BULLIED!) me into listening to Caroline Polachek’s new album, and I’ve never been so grateful to be brought to my senses. Every song on Desire, I Want To Turn Into You is a gem in Polachek’s crown, and we bow down to the Queen. She evokes Debussy several times on this record, so it’s no surprise that “Hopedrunk Everasking” reminds me of an art song. Beautiful, timeless, and haunting — I’ll be returning to this album for years to come.
John Cage — Sonata No. 5
Fewer things are more satisfying to me than the primal plinks and plonks that John Cage evokes in his Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. While many would cringe at the thought of putting a bunch of bolts and screws in between the strings of a piano, in so doing, Cage is able to conjure a myriad of percussive effects which he juxtaposes masterfully with the original glassy sound retained by the unprepared strings. Sonata No. 5, one of my favorites of the set, is upbeat, quirky, and infuriatingly original.
Green Day — Welcome to Paradise
The kids have discovered Green Day! I've lost all control of them. Every car ride, they've gotta play "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "American Idiot," but when they hit "Welcome to Paradise," I'm re-living the glorious 90s, having a blast with the kids, and we aren't getting out of the car until this one's done.
Max Richter — Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
So, this month, I got turned on to the Max Richter “recompositions” of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and oh. my. god. I’m obsessed. New workout playlist, new work playlist, new calming-down playlist, new everything playlist.
Richter is known for being “classical contemporary,” which can mean a lot of different things, but basically, he took the tunes that we’re all familiar with in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and re-made them for the modern ear such that they really capture the essence and emotion of each season, but with a 21st Century twist. It’s astounding.
Ashley Monroe — Two Weeks Late
If country music is "three chords and the truth," this song is just about perfect (sorry, Steve Goodman). It's got a classic honky-tonk feel, a catchy refrain, and just enough of a sense of humor to lighten up a bad situation.
Listen to this month's playlist: