As we wind down the year, it is a moment to take pride and comfort in everything we did and didn’t do. In things we have accomplished and things that have just begun. To connect with those we love and to reach out to those we may have drifted from. It is also a season to let music fill the spaces between your time alone and to surround those you share time with. Never underestimate the healing power of music and your contribution in this world. As the new year beckons, seek to know who you are. Know what you want. Know what you’re worth. And don’t accept less. Cheers to you and your journey this holiday season!
Sting – 57th & 9th
Interscope – Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
On his 12th studio album, Sting returns to an urgency and musical aesthetic that continues in his pop, rock and world genre. Here however, he takes us back to his approach of the 80s where the Police disbanded at the peak of their fame. Reminiscent throughout these 10 songs is an enduring sensibility to showcase a true gift toward creating memorable pop and rock. This is perhaps Sting’s greatest legacy, far beyond the esoteric moodswings and orchestral tangents that have preceded the last few decades. He is a master craftsman, one that writes pop songs like no other. And it is here on 57th and 9th, that this talent shines with no orderly unifying theme, just sleek tracks reminding us he is a genuine record-maker.
Common – Black America Again
Def Jam – Hip-Hop/Rap
As the recent runaway success of the play Hamilton has shown us, there is a universal appeal to the lyrical technique and flowing syncopations of the rap genre. When done conscientiously, the art form can be both mainstream and powerful. Common, born Lonnie Rashied Lynn, is a Chicago native that uses much of his craft as a messenger to deliver and evoke a sense of introspection toward political and social agendas. His latest album follows in the success of his Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards for Best Original Song in ‘Glory’ with John Legend. Thematically and structurally, ‘Black America Again’ showcases a fiery examination of the state of the union for race and social progress, filled with love, grief, rage and hope.
Robbie Williams – Heavy Entertainment Show
Columbia – Pop/Rock
Not since a young Mick Jagger has an artist so headily swaggered with bravado and bombast, playing into all the cultural cues with a sense of crass endearment to his audiences. Robbie Williams has always been the court jester and cocky alpha male in the pop genre. He manages to project an affable adult that hasn’t quite grown up and one that doesn’t necessarily need to. Funnily enough, the whole thing works for him. On his latest album lies a melting pot of ideas that does not disappoint, dressing up the antics with expert production. Burrowing through collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Benny Blanco, Rufus Wainwright, and Jewel - highlights include ‘Bruce Lee’, which feels like a perfect ode to Bowie glam, and ‘Mixed Signals’ penned by the Killers.
Tove Lo – Lady Wood
Universal Records – Pop/Dance
Smart and fearless females have always led the pack. Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, aka Tove Lo, has been a welcome addition to the new shape of idiosyncratic 80s influenced pop coupled with EDM. Her appeal is her raw and brutally honest lyricism, proving we’re all drawn to songs with words we may at times be afraid to say. Tove’s craft was honed from her poetry and short story writing which began at a young age in Stockholm, before going on to study at the famous Rytmus Musikergynasiet, a music-oriented high school. On her sophomore release, she continues to develop her dexterity by keeping and confessing secrets, which makes her music painfully honest and relatable.