Following a rather longer-than-expected hiatus, ya girl is back and at it with a mix of beautiful, comical and heartfelt tunes to usher the new year in… Hopefully these songs should find you sat back, relaxed and ready to sink into the music.
Now, J. Cole is a talent. I know this- the world knows this- and if you don’t already, now is the time to find this out. 2014 Forest Hill Drive was my first taste of J. Cole, and believe me I relished it; His lyrics are intensely well written, artfully playful and gorgeously backed.I know it’s controversial, but I’m inclined to think that, if anything, 4 Your Eyez Only is even better than Forest Hill Drive. The album itself is beautifully cyclical, telling a narrative as twisting and poignant as the real life events it’s based upon; Cole’s musical accompaniments are a wonder on their own, and particularly when coupled with the spoken word interludes littered throughout the album. I honestly consider this album as within my top 5 released in 2016; It’s endlessly revisitable, and as layered in meaning, clever lyricisms and narrative voice as you could hope for. For a taste of all the albums glorious high points, I recommend Ville Mentality.
next up: anti-lilly & phoniks- blue in green
The instrumental backing to Blue and Green is beautiful. A simple, plinking piano melody dances over slow paced chords, all held under the witty lyricisms of Anti-Lilly. I think it’s the lyrics more than anything- the entire song is essentially a burst of positive thinking in a dark cloud of messy life experiences, filling the listener with a sense of sure happiness. It will all eventually be ok, and in these near post-apocalyptic times it’s nice to be reminded of that.
(For more Anti-Lilly, I recommend Stories From The Brass Section.)
next up: mac miller ft. anderson .paak- dang!
The Divine Feminine is a class album from Mac Miller, despite it’s definite straying into the territory of male gaze; You’d think that would instantly put me off, but Mac Miller has created some tunes. Perhaps my favourite of these is Dang! with Anderson .Paak, who I’m definitely marking as one to watch out for in 2017; Not only does he have a fantastic voice, but also a sense of style and grace completely at odds with his inventive, free flowing creations. The two come together perfectly here creating the kind of mellow, positively toned sound that fuels the creative mind and repairs the mood.
next up: frank ocean- solo
It’s very difficult for me to express my love for Frank Ocean eloquently. There is a strong likelihood that I will devolve into a rant about how that glorious, glorious man and creator “DISAPPEARED FOR YEARS ON END, LEAVING US LOST AND MUSICALLY DEPRIVED-” but I should probably maintain some level of decorum… Regardless, it’s safe to say that I really, really love Frank Ocean. blond was a blessing upon my 2016. And Solo is possibly my favourite track on blond; soft and hazy, lyrically clever and filled with the gorgeously rich tones of Frank, it’s the perfect track to wind down to.
next up: aidan knight- what light (never goes out)
In my eyes, Aidan Knight has produced a wonder, and I’m not quite sure how. The melody is simple, the rhythm is simple, and the lyrics aren’t nearly as complex as I would expect them to be, at least for me to find this song so compelling. I think it’s in Knight’s voice; sad, slow, hushed, and speaking his honest-to-god truth. This song drips emotion; it’s purely comprised of cut glass feelings, whilst Knight himself sounds like a man numbed, drowning in a sea of his own creation.
(For more Aidan Knight, check out his latest album, Versicolour.)
next up: kevin krauter- fantasy theme
Lullabies are sort of missing from adult life. Any kind of bedtime ritual beyond the purely mechanical appears to have been mostly lost; I’d like to think however, that if I ever were to return to my bedtime-story-reading ways, this song would be a perfect lullaby. Soft, plinking acoustic guitar wends it’s way through wistful, gentle lyrics, edged by the rise and fall of Krauter’s voice; a beautiful image of calm, simple peace is created. It’s damn near soporific.
(For a similar taste of softly delivered, sleep inducing tunes, check out Krauter’s latest album; Magnolia.)
next up: chance waters- the ticket inspector
The Ticket Inspector was a surprise; Equal parts darkness and humour, the song veers eerily too close to reality with that delectable sense of absolute, unbelievable, hilarious truth. Chance Waters is right; generally, ticket inspectors are dicks. And they do probably have deep seated issues. And the almost insanely bouncy, major key delivery is an utterly perfect match for the neurotic inspector.