April showers bring May flowers, it's true, but they also bring a new round of music picks from all of us at CRB! Check out the songs we have on repeat this month.
The Manhattan Transfer -- Java Jive
Like a lot of offices, ours featured (features? will feature again in the future?) a coffee maker and the conversation that inevitably occurs in its midst. I certainly don’t lack for good coffee at home, along with a few different fun brewing methods. But one thing I’ll look forward to as office life returns – whenever that is – is those conversations, in person, detached from laptop video, and with hot mug in hand, and the vibe captured by one of the first groups I ever saw live in concert, Manhattan Transfer.
Wakefield Cathedral Choir -- Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle
James Bennett II
… So there I was, late last week, in bed, wide awake, being robbed of that precious elixir some call “sleep.” You see, this tune wormed its way into my head, where it was living rent free. The problem was that it forgot to announce itself on the way in. I took to Instagram to ask a few friends to Name That Tune — one almost correctly identified it as “a Christmas carol plus Frère Jacques idk." But it was another dear friend of mine, an Episcopal priest, who came to my rescue, correctly identifying the tune as "Grafton" (Paris, 1881). Like many tunes, a number of different texts can be set to it, so choose your words with abandon, religious or not, (I think). Plus, those closing bars make for some absurdly fun amateur vocal acrobatics. Go on and try it. I won’t tell (I don’t think). Oh, I should mention: in all technicality, "Grafton" is the tune name; the link here, to “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle” is but one application of the tune in question.
Sarah Jarosz -- When Doves Cry
Some of my favorite classical picks are re-imaginings, re-orchestrations, themes and variations, or arrangements. Classical composers regularly used the work of others as scaffolding or inspiration. And that got me thinking about pop covers, and THAT got me thinking about Sarah Jarosz's cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry," which will forever be on my "Top 5 Covers of All Time" list.
Andrea Belmonte -- Vocal Cords (album)
Italy has produced more than its share of classical guitar composers, and in his debut album Andrea Belmonte explores the Italian love of melody mostly from composers who helped shape the genre. What's clear is that Italians love "melody" more than anything. This is the album I've been listening to when either driving home from a long day, soaking in a warm tub of lavender-scented bubbles, or needing a musical accompaniment to bedtime. Check, check and check.
Norah Jones -- The Nearness of You
I’ve been on a Norah Jones kick lately - maybe it’s the warm weather - and I simply cannot get enough of this song from her 2002 debut album. The whole album is awesome, by the way, but this closing track is doing it for me right now. Enjoy!
Tacocat -- Little Friend
With the days getting warmer I’ve been spending more and more time on my deck, observing the wildlife of Jamaica Plain, from a family of enormous turkeys that roosts on my neighbor’s roof to some very chatty squirrels, an elusive woodpecker, and a flock of European starlings that sometimes perch with me for a while. Whenever I see a new critter staring back at me I get the chorus from Tacocat’s “Little Friend” stuck in my head. The whole song is very much my vibe - a raw, punky poppy aesthetic with hints of early-2000s-The Apples In Stereo-nostalgia.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gerald Moore -- Schubert: Schwanengesang, D.957: Die Stadt
I recently watched an incredible 2019 vocal masterclass with Thomas Quasthoff at Wigmore Hall in London. It was filled with German songs, primarily Schubert, chosen by the handful of vocal students. One in particular really caught my attention, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. Die Stadt (“The City”) from his Schwanengesang is an impressionistic vignette of the singer rowing into a foggy, eerie town, and it’s perfect for cloudy April weather.
Voces8 -- Elgar: Nimrod (Lux Aeterna)
This piece is a comfort – something to let wash over me as I take a moment to just be: here, now, content in my own skin. I hope it’s the same for you. It’s taken from Elgar’s Enigma Variations – the “Nimrod” section, set to the Lux Aeterna text – and Voces8 sings it beautifully.
Carly Rae Jepsen -- Cut to the Feeling
I've been falling back into old music favorites lately, which mostly means I've been listening to a lot of Carly Rae Jepsen. I've listend to this song so many times that I was honestly surprised to find I hadn't used it in Instant Replay before -- "Cut to the Feeling" is a Carly classic, and it rules, simple as that.
Listen to the complete playlist here: