Even though everything's a little different this year, the month of September still feels like the start of something new. Well, what better way to celebrate that fresh feeling than with music? Check out our favorite tracks of the month in the latest edition of Instant Replay!
Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West -- Ešenvalds: There Will Come Soft Rains
The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler, and familiar voices continue to be fewer in our crazy 2020 lives. I looked specifically for the comfort of human connection this time around, and found it with a CD released earlier this year, “There Will Come Soft Rains.” The pieces are by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds (except for an interesting rendition of “Amazing Grace”), and are sung by the Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West, conducted by Richard Nance. Thirty-three people are in this choir, but sing so delicately, yet so purposefully, that you can imagine an angel choir singing. Have a box of tissues nearby when you hear the lyrics to “In My Little Picture Frame." The rest of the 14 tracks either will lower your blood pressure, make you think, or just cover and calm you like a weighted blanket.
Jeremy Soule -- From Past to Present, from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Original Game Soundtrack
When I’m not writing music or out taking a walk, it’s likely I’ve sunk into a good video game. The world of video game soundtracks is just amazing, and Jeremy Soule’s work for Skyrim is one of the best. Here’s a particularly meditative one I’ve been listening to all summer long.
Jane Monheit -- I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
Over the summer I've been feeling nostalgic and going back to old favorites. I remember wandering the Barnes & Noble CD section in high school, testing albums with those headphoned player things they had, and came across Jane Monheit's first album. I fell in love with her music making, and this song in particular has stayed with me ever since.
Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas -- The Wee Man from Uist / The High Drive
Ah, fall - or as I like to call it, fiddle weather. I'll admit I started playing one of my favorite cold-weather albums a little early this year (we all need a pick-me-up), but when I stepped outside to a brisk 50 degrees this morning, I knew it was time to share my love for Highlander's Farewell with the world. This is my favorite track on the album - I hope the whole thing becomes a cold-weather staple for you, too.
Dua Lipa -- Pretty Please
Come for the beat (the perfect andante for a bike ride or kitchen vibing) and her buttery voice, stay for the cowbell that somehow makes perfect musical sense towards the end of the track. It is, as the kids say, an absolute bop.
SWR Symphony Orchestra, Hans Rosbaud, conductor -- Mahler: Symphony No. 9 in D Major, IV. Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend
During these months of pandemic, I’m continually pulled back into music by Mahler, whose symphonies I find to be even more reflective of our inner landscapes than normal right now. Of them, the Ninth is, maybe, the most enigmatic, requiring a truly special combination of orchestra and conductor to walk the fine line between detached note-reading and over-the-top emotional distortion. Hans Rosbaud’s 1954 recording with his Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden – just re-released this month in a set of several of their almost-forgotten Mahler recordings – finds that line exquisitely, especially in the work’s final movement.
Nina Simone -- Just Like a Woman
The other day when we were driving, this came on, from my wife’s playlist – and now I can’t stop listening to it! “Just Like a Woman” is a Bob Dylan song. I got to know it back in the days when he was a hero to me, and in later years it seemed a little too dismissive of women in general – misogynistic maybe? But listening to it in the voice of this strong, self-assured female sends shivers up my spine. When Nina Simone sings it, she’s empathizing with a woman’s toughness as well as her vulnerability.
Rilo Kiley -- Spectacular Views
I've been on a quest to discover new (to me) music favorites, rather than just listening to the same old things over and over again. Enter Rilo Kiley. I'm 15 years late to discovering this band, but I've been listening to this album, along with the album "Takeoffs and Landings," pretty much nonstop for the past couple of weeks. This song in particular sounds like it could be at least 3 different songs in one, all of them amazing.
Check out our full cumulative playlist: