Lais - Lais

Lais - Lais

These three girls have voices like angels. I'm not sure of the connection between the artists but you can be sure you're on to a good thing when Emmylou Harris has stopped to praise their singing.

The whole thing is very traditional sounding. Interesting arrangements - almost exclusively for voice. Basically it's a big display of beautiful 3-part harmonies. Good variation in song energy - 't Jeugdig Groen is rather slow (and dark) while songs like 't Zoutvat are much more upbeat.

There's a delicious cover of Sinhead O'Connor's In This Heart on here and track 12 seems to be a tribute to the great Jacques Brel. I think my pick of the moment is going to have to be De Wanhoop though there any number of songs could have taken that spot.

Alexander "Skip" Spence - Little Hands


This is something my brother put me on to after I showed him Karen Dalton. Apparently he's one of the guys behind Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape.

The production/instrumentation is generally pretty simple - the bulk of the recording consists of distant drums, muffled bass guitar and rambling vocals. His delivery is very Cohen-esk in places - though his voice sounds completely different.

Each song tends to tell a little tale - as they often did back in those days - Weighted Down being a great example. There's lots to enjoy here. Really makes me want to listen to Jefferson again.

I can see why this is a classic.

Josephine Foster - Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You

Josephine Foster - Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You

Another strange little work. Very much a hippie album - all acoustic guitars, vocals and flutes of some description. The basis is quite traditional - reminds me of, and I'll show my ignorance here, Joan Baez. See, I really don't know very much about the style but it sounds almost medieval to me. Thing is, it's actually very dark and experimental in places.

Initially I downloaded the title track after reading a review but it's There Are Eyes Above that really jumps out at me when I listen to the album, it's a beautiful number. Hominy Grits too.

Her mad soprano vocals are all over the place which is going to make this rather inaccessible for most.

Personally I find it to be very pretty.

Thomas Dybdahl - ...That Great October Sound

Thomas Dybdahl - ...That Great October Sound

Another top Norwegian score. I was introduced to this by someone from Norway... well actually, not quite this. He gave me copies of The National Bank and BigBang's live acoustic cd. Mind blowing stuff. I only had to hear about 2 seconds of Thomas Dybdahl before I clicked that he was the singer from National Bank - very distinctive voice.

The whole thing just feels so silky smooth. The final production is not unlike that on Rykestraße. My guess is that like Wellington there's a fairly incestuous pool of talent lurking behind a good chunk of the music. Dybdahl won the Spellemannsprisen when he released this one too.

It's a beautiful piece of work.

Hanne Hukkelberg - Rykestraße

Hanne Hukkelberg - Rykestraße

Another very pretty album. The production is noticeably slicker than her previous effort. They're actually very different sounding albums. Many of the elements are the same but the overall intent seems to be different. Little Things was like stumbling upon a child's music box. Rykestraße is more mature, the interesting sounds are still there but they take a back seat to the writing and fuller arrangements.

In North Wind instead of drums we get to enjoy the clatter of a typewriter (the ending is obvious). Seems that a lot of her stuff is made from found sounds. It's just dawned on me that a lot of my favourite pretty music these days is from Norway. What the hell do they put in the water over there?

She actually won a Spellemannsprisen award for this one (Norwegian music award where everyone in every category is downright amazing). Well deserved. A beautiful work indeed.

Hanne Hukkelberg - Little Things

Hanne Hukkelberg - Little Things

Searching sets the tone of the album - soft clacks, tocks, scrapes and dings throughout. It's really dainty - very much the music box. She (Hanne) has lovely voice. A second falsetto line adorns the main vocal in many segments.

True Love is perfect - Simple off-kilter little melody/rhythm in the verse that unexpectedly slips into the plushest chorus. Boble is very French - another of my picks actually. Wonderful accordion work. Reminds me a bit of the Il Postino soundtrack (beautiful movie with a beautiful soundtrack by the way).

Similarities with Kiki Bohemia can be heard - I guess Hanne is the German version of Hannah. I wonder if she's from Berlin too (gotta love that city). Just checked Wiki - Born in Norway however the first track on her 2nd album, Rykestraße (which I've just purchased), is called Berlin.

Pretty Little Things.

Karen Dalton - In My Own Time

Karen Dalton - In My Own Time

Random tip from a random site discovered whilst digging around for Kiki Bohemia related material. This is very much a Rodriguez moment for me - another under-promoted great. From what I can gather this has been a record collectors (notoriously hard to obtain) favourite for years, now made accessible to the masses via a recent reissue (though I'll be going out of my way to get hold of an original copy).

God, what a voice. Billie Holiday-esk I suppose, incredible texture. Something On Your Mind and In a Station are well up on my list of picks of the moment.

Katie Cruel blows me away - is this the original? I also have covers by White Magic and Bert Jansch collected along the way that I absolutely adore. Either way it's simply a beautiful song.

Apparently Bob Dylan and Nick Cave are both huge fans of her work. In the end she died destitute after drug addiction in the states (in Take Me I think she says "it would be like heroin to me")... hell of an injustice.

Patti Smith - Twelve

Patti Smith - Twelve

I like covers. Covers are eventually going to be a key focus of this blog. Patti Smith does good covers.

I actually picked up on this album after hearing a few guys on the tube talking about it (thanks random strangers!). They were saying that the Tears For Fears cover was rubbish (mostly because Patti is meant to be harder than that). I happen to disagree. Every song on here is really nicely produced and there's a nice range of genres in the original material. There isn't such a great range of dynamics in the cover versions though. They're all set in a similar tone, a much mellower tone than we'd normally expect from Patti.

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