Singer-songwriter Elli Perry was something of a road warrior in years past, touring incessantly, but following her marriage failing, Perry was burned out, exhausted and needed some fresh inspiration. She wound up carrying on her roaming ways through travel and living new places, such as Costa Rica and the French countryside. It was during that peripatetic period that Perry penned the songs that comprise her new album, Little Thieves, releasing 30 March. Her new single “Smoking Gun” is a powerful song that looks at the pain of depression but meets that pain with real fight and determination to overcome the disease’s debilitating effects.
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Mike Schiller: Well, a thing doesn’t always have to be subtle to be beautiful, does it? Fresh off his Grammy win and a surprise appearance in the “Album of the Year” category comes the video for the song he played at that particular ceremony. Just in case we weren’t sure of Simpson’s stance on our current president, he makes it very clear here. In the video, a child—and, one is to assume, all the purity of heart and mind that child is meant to represent—gives an iron-fisted Trump the what-for, smashes a heart-shaped hole in a tremendous wall, and rids the world of war machines. It’s comforting to see these sorts of messages come out of the heartland and at a time when Simpson’s audience is as broad as it has ever been. For its part, the song itself is as beautiful and appropriate as it could be. It’s a tale of perseverance and strength and love in 6/8 country-gospel style, complete with a few brilliant Dap-Kings horns to bring it all home. Just lovely. [9/10]
Paul Carr: One-half of Fuck Buttons returns with this taster from his forthcoming third album World Eater. On “Please”, Benjamin John Power demonstrates a lightness of touch as he manages to combine the ambiance of his early solo work with the heavier beats and more danceable rhythms of previous album Dumb Flesh. It’s a testament to his mastery of manipulating the space between notes to build a euphonious yet dizzying sound. It saunters to the edge of a cliff before dropping, chased by harder, edgier beats. Blanck Mass stops it from hitting the ground by cushioning the beats with bright, airy synths and looping, distorted vocals. Excellent. [9/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: Lana Del Rey is more than the sum of her parts. Her voice is good, her lyrics are relatable, and her melodies are pleasant. That’s a good enough start, but it’s not what makes her special. Her hook, the reason she has such a die-hard fanbase and continues to sell album after album, is glamour. It’s in her name, her style, her videos, her music: a haunting blend of romance and tragedy, velvet and starlight, the open spaces of America and the smoky darkness of an old-fashioned jazz lounge. None of this is to take away from her raw talents, singing and writing, which are above average even in a song about such oft-repeated subjects as young love and looking back. But, as with any real star, it’s her delivery, the melancholy with which she sings that “it’s enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy,” that entrances. “Love” is another wistful chapter in Lana Del Rey’s songbook, nostalgic, bittersweet, and benefiting from Del Rey’s affinity for all things heartbreaking. [8/10]
Blues/folk/soul singer Ruthie Foster is a roots music wunderkind. From those aforementioned three genres and into gospel and rock, Foster refuses to be penned in, but rather allows her muse to take her where it will and we the audience are just left shaking our heads in collective amazement. What resonates with me the most about Foster is that she’s a pure musical force of nature, a master musician and an artist graced with one of the finest vocal instruments in the roots world.