As those of us in Blighty prepare to bid farewell to British Summer Time, our TuneSmith Rob Wood selects the sounds to ease the Europeans among us into autumn… Meanwhile, those of you in balmier climes can feel smug about these sexy soundtracks being just the ticket on long, lazy spring evenings too.
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
by Catherine AD
When? The evenings get darker
Why? A new shadowy voice for the change of season
It seems this golden age of female powered pop continues. With exceptional artists such as Bat For Lashes, Anna Calvi and Fever Ray bearing exotic fruit, and powerful new spellbinding works from Bjork, Kate Bush, Laura Marling and Feist, the air is thick with boundary-jumping, confident and exciting female musicians. And here’s one more. Catherine AD is a self-taught pianist, guitarist and flautist who jumped from playing piano in hotel bars, to being artist in resident at the Southbank Centre. She’s recorded with the likes of Nitin Sawhney, caught the ear of Lauren Laverne, and supported Martha Wainwright. It’s her voice that singles her out as a potent new talent, together with a dark, gothic streak of drama in her music. There may be no shortage of quirky chanteuses, but this singer owes as much to Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright, as Billie Holiday or Kate Bush. She has a flair for bringing a new edge to the songs she has re-interpreted by Friendly Fires, Hurts and Lady Gaga, whose Telephone is found on the new string-laden mini album Communion. While the record is a gorgeous, haunting work with piano and strings brilliantly set against her cascading voice, it will be next year’s full length album that is likely to reveal whether Cat AD has the vision to go with her striking talent.
THE SMITH CLASSIC
by Marvin Gaye
When? Imagine Marvin doing Shaft, and you are almost there
Why? It’s a little-known funky treat
In December 1972 Marvin Gaye followed his ground-breaking, iconic album What’s Going On with a musical curve ball. After what has become to be seen as one of the greatest records ever, he could have gone in many directions, but choose to make a soundtrack to a blaxploitation film instead. Perhaps his growing fascination with Hollywood is easier to understand in the light of his contemporaries Curtis Mayfield and Issac Hayes were already getting in on the act. What is surprising is Trouble Man in an instrumental album due to the free rein he was allowed after his previous success. Apart from a few refrains, Gaye hardly graces it with his silky sweet troubled voice, although a vocal version of the title track did become a hit later. What really matters here though is the album’s funky, blues soaked licks and melodies that shuffle in and out, again and again, at a laidback finger-clicking speed. It’s not nearly as satisfying as What’s Going On, it’s more of a partially successful experiment, but it’s easy to hear why many hip hop DJs and artists have plundered this as a trove fat full of breaks. It’s groovy as hell.
Our resident TuneSmith, Rob Wood, is the creative director and founder of Music Concierge, an award-winning music consultancy service for boutique and luxury hotels.