After first finding success as the driving force behind the ska-rock band, the Police in the mid-seventies and later enjoying an equally successful career as a solo artist, Sting decided he was done with the life of a pop star around 2003. He certainly did not give up creating music as he explored classical using the lute and wrote a Broadway musical, "The Last Ship" based on his own childhood experiences. Not that it's really all that surprising but the sixty-five year old Brit has just returned to the rock arena with "57th & 9th", the singer's twelfth studio album. The title refers to the intersection in New York where he passed each day on his way to the studio. Recorded over three months, a relatively short period of time for a music project, Sting states it helped him not overthink the music and brought a sense of urgency to the songs. The album blasts through with hard-driving guitars and covers a range of topics that are of high interest to the singer right now like climate change, politics, aging and his own mortality.
Listen to Sting's first single, "I Can't Stop Thinking About You" which manages to feel familiar and fresh at the same time:
Emeli Sandé began her professional career in music as a successful, go-to pop songwriter and producer before she dropped her debut "Our Version of Events" in 2012. This record quickly elevated her to a whole new level with it becoming a worldwide smash, particularly in England where it spent ten non-consecutive weeks at number one and became the best-selling album of the year. Only in the U.S. did Sandé not become a major sensation although the single, "Next To Me", received some airplay and peaked in the top thirty on the pop charts. That may change as the twenty-nine year old British performer has just recently released her follow-up, "Long Live the Angels". This new record does not easily fit in to the current pop atmosphere, offering moody, introspective songs that are far more spare and stripped down. But it's still her soulful voice, filled with deep emotion and electrifying power, that makes this collection truly effective.
Check out the music video for the first release from the album, "Hurts":
Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson had always loved music and began writing songs when she was a child in her native Sweden. As a teen, she performed with several rock and punk bands and while in music school in Stockholm developed a close friendship with Caroline Hjelt, who would later form the pop duo, Icona Pop. This soon led her to Los Angeles and the opportunity to work with Swedish producer Max Martin. Nilsson developed her skills as a songwriter and wrote for several pop acts including Icona Pop. She started self-releasing songs with her singing under her childhood nickname "Tove Lo" on-line and "Habits (Stay High)" began to receive some attention. With this new-found popularity, Tove Lo was signed to a recording contract, released an EP, then her debut album, "Queen of the Clouds" in 2014 which brought her international fame thanks to the songs "Habits" and "Talking Body". After having to take a forced break due to vocal-cord surgery, the now twenty-nine year old singer is finally back with "Lady Wood". The title comes from the singer's expression for an aroused female and these bold songs on the album reflect a 21st century young woman's raw and honest views on feminism, love and sexuality.
Take a look at the short film, "Fairy Dust", directed by Tim Erem, which in essence is a long-form music video and features the first five songs on "Lady Wood":
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