TAYLOR SWIFT - "1989"
Country superstar, Taylor Swift has made a risky move by making her fifth album, "1989" a pure pop record. This could potentially be career suicide as country music fans are notoriously unforgiving when a beloved artist abandons their loving arms. I don't think Ms Swift has much to fear as the album looks poised to becoming one of the biggest sellers of the year.
For her official foray in to pop music, Swift has wisely decided against relying on current trends and looks back to the sounds of the 1980's for inspiration. The title of this record comes from the year of her birth and with production assistance from pop-hit makers, Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and Shellback as well as Jack Antonoff of the indie band, Fun and alt-rocker, Imogen Heap, she has crafted a collection that evokes a feeling of the past but remains quite modern. And considering she hasn't done much living at only twenty-four, Swift also shows great maturity as a songwriter.
"Blank Space", the latest single from the album looks sure to be another smash:
"Blank Space" - Taylor Swift (2014)
STEVIE NICKS - "24 KARAT GOLD: SONGS FROM THE VAULT"
One of Taylor Swift's idols, Stevie Nicks has also looked to the past for her latest release, "24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault". Nicks had a large collection of unrecorded songs she had written that went as far back as when she was dating Lindsey Buckingham before they joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975. They are now seeing the light of day as Nicks went to Nashville with producers, Waddy Wachtel and Dave Stewart (formerly of The Eurythmics) to record these lost treasures. The majority of the songs are by the singer but there are a few covers including "Carousel" by Vanessa Carlton which was one of her mother's favorites.
This is one of the tracks I really like:
"Starshine" - Stevie Nicks (2014)
PRINCE - "ART OFFICIAL AGE"
After being musically silent for far too long, the iconic Prince has returned with not one but two new releases. "Plectrumelectrum" and "Art Official Age" are being released by his former label, Warner Bros Records which he claimed at one time that they treated him like nothing more than a slave but clearly time has healed those old wounds. The former CD is an avant-garde, hard-edged rock album with his all-female backing band, 3rdeyegirl but I'm going to focus on the later which delivers more of the funky sound that I love. Prince seems to be in a more playful, sensual mood these days which is reflected in this new music. Along with the expected idiosyncratic touches scattered throughout, this is one of his most accessible albums in years.
"Clouds" - Prince (2014)
ANNIE LENNOX - "NOSTALGIA"
As is the trend these days for record labels to have veteran artists travel down a musical memory lane, Annie Lennox has just released her version with the appropriately titled, "Nostalgia". Ms Lennox had previously recorded a covers album of pop songs that inspired her back in 1995 with "Medusa" but this time the dynamic vocalist has gone back even further. This collection features songs from the Great American Songbook and some jazz tunes. She has taken on such classics ranging from Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" and "Strange Fruit", "Summertime" from Gershwin and "Georgia On My Mind" made famous by Ray Charles. Ms Lennox convincingly performs each song with warmth, style and class. "Nostalgia" has even made it to the top of the Billboard jazz chart.
Here is a clip of the singer performing "Summertime":
TINASHE - "AQUARIUS"
One of my favorite songs of the year is "2 On" by the twenty-one year old Tinashe and after releasing several popular mixtapes, her debut, "Aquarius" is now out. Although this singer/actress brings to mind the late Aaliyah, the Zimbabwe born, L.A. raised artist moves further out of the realm of traditional r&b or hip-hop. Tinashe had a hand on the writing of most of the songs along with top producers DJ Mustard, Mike Will Made-It and Stargate to help expand her sound and together they created a work that is sexy, experimental and highly innovative.
Enjoy this sample of the sounds of Tinashe:
"Cold Sweat" - Tinashe (2014)
Dawn Richard, a former member of the female pop singing group formed by Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, Danity Kane, has dropped the music video for her new single, "Blow". Richard is part of the alt-r&b movement and this pulsating clip is equally offbeat:
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