Songs of the Month: June 2017

Jazzmeia Horn’s “Up Above My Head” is a reimagined gospel tune (originally recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe) from the Dallas native’s debut album A Social Call and is just one of ten expertly arranged jazz and soul standards. Not only is she a winner of both the Sarah Vaughan and Thelonious Monk International Vocal Jazz Competitions, but Jon Hendricks has said “Jazzmeia has one of the best voices I’ve heard in over 40 years.” If you’re a fan of Betty Carter or any of the musicians I’ve mentioned thus far, Horn’s electrifying and powerful voice will not disappoint.

Before her NPR Tiny Desk Concert I had, admittedly, been sleeping on Noname. “Diddy Bop” feels so good and genuine and nostalgic in a way that a lot of people can relate. Her music and poetry is mostly about growing up as a black girl in Chicago, but surrounding the struggle is hopefulness and light and appreciation for the things that are actually going right.

If you haven’t listened to Voyager since reading the interview I did with Moonchild, there’s still time! “The List” brings back emotions that are all-too-familiar for those of you who have ever tried to get over a crush. I like to think it’s how Drake must feel about Rihanna…

“Holy” by Jamila Woods (another Chicago gal) is all about self-love and self-affirmation.  Earlier this year Woods signed to Jagjaguwar– an indie record label home to artists like Angel Olsen, Justin Vernon, and Moses Sumney– and to celebrate the re-release of her debut album HEAVN we were given this super cool video directed by Sam Bailey.

The title of Braxton Cook‘s newest album Somewhere in Between happens to be an accurate description of what he brings to the table as an alto saxophonist and r&b singer-songwriter. You can catch him at the Julliard School, on tour with trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, or in various Sofar Sounds New York videos. His website describes his music as genre-blending “new jazz music inspired by John Coltrane and Frank Ocean”– which you can especially hear on tunes like “I Can’t” and “You’re the One”.

SZA‘s Ctrl was arguably one of this year’s most anticipated albums and as many of her fans will tell you: it was well worth the wait. Ctrl is chock-full of jams but, not gonna lie, I played “The Weekend” on repeat for hours just to hear the line “You like 9-5, I’m the weekend.” Be sure to check out the Kendrick Lamar feature on “Doves in the Wind”, too.

When I finally saw Nick Hakim perform last October (after being a fan of all things Berklee-related for years) he was on tour with KING, band-less, and was playing to pre-recorded tracks. It was a little disappointing, but all was forgiven when I heard “The Want” and “Farmissplease” from Green Twins.

“Doomed”, from Moses Sumney‘s forthcoming album, washes over you in big waves of sound; it makes sense that he’s submerged in water for the music video. Although parts of lyric are indecipherable, Sumney’s voice is full of poetry and vulnerability. He describes the album in a press release as “an intimate concept record about lovelessness as a sonic dreamscape” so get those tissues ready for the feels.

Charlotte Dos Santos‘s rendition of “Red Clay” has made an appearance on my monthly playlist before, but now her album Cleo is out and I have more songs to obsess over! The music history nerds out there will appreciate her interesting take on “Sumer Is Icumen In”, but I find myself playing “King of Hearts” more than the others solely because it’s the longest song on the album and I get to hear her gorgeous voice for more than 2 or 3 minutes. *I enjoyed reading this interview she did with gal-den (one of my favorite creative collectives) and seeing her out on the town with Fresh Selects labelmate, Braxton Cook.*

“New York”, St Vincent‘s most recent release sounds like a breakup song upon first listen, but it’s a little more than that. She’s dealing with the loss of a relationship but instead of expressing regret and anger, there’s a sense of a mature love when she says “For you, darling, I’d do it all again.”

****RHU‘s debut EP, Transitioning is out now!!****
RHU is a Denton based composer and multi-instrumentalist. Her vocal style is evocative and captivating, playfully finessing sophisticated melodies, while displaying a tone that is lush and compelling. Her music encompasses an eclectic mix of indie rock, acoustic pop, and jazz.

I realized while writing this that quite a few of these artists are 26 years old so shout out to those 90’s babies and here’s hoping none of them end up in the 27 club. RIP Geri Allen and Prodigy.