B.B. King, born September 16, 1925, in the Mississippi Delta, is the king of the blues. His anthology The Ultimate Collection is as good an introduction to the blues as any: and what is notable is the fact that it gives pleasure.
There’s a calculated roughness to “Rooftops and Invitations.” It’s interesting that the first songs on the album are fast and loud, and the later songs begin to be slower, more quiet, as if a point was being made with the first songs (the point?—the proof of masculinity).
Steven Patrick Morrissey is now middle-age. In a culture that does not worship youth so much as pander to it—with all the contempt and desperation and envy that suggests—it is interesting to observe people who are aging well: still feeling,…
“I Get Along Without You Very Well” is a song I’m more used to hearing women sing, and it’s interesting to hear Sinatra claim the love and vulnerability in the song. His phrasing is conversational but his tone is musical (he never just sounds as if he’s speaking the lyrics, as some singers do).
In “What’s Wrong with Me,” an impressionistic song suggesting resistance to embracing everything in modern life, Skye sings, “I try not to think about the rain /I try not to think about the evil empires and stupid fools.” It is…
Leela James: and her complex aims, one of the beautiful dames, besieged by seductive games, knowing predictability maims, talent names, success tames.… A Change Is Gonna Come has a rich, warm sound—vintage. Within its exploration of love, there’s another interlude, “Married,” in…
One hears the plucking of guitar strings and orchestral swirls, and Caetano Veloso’s voice is both light and grave. It’s fun to hear him sing Cobain’s “Come As You Are,” which was first recorded by the band Nirvana, and contains sharp contradictions, suggesting not confusion but an aware and complex mind. Veloso uses both a falsetto voice and a low, declamatory voice to interpret “Feelings,” making a song that had become a cabaret cliché sound like a genuine human expression.
When not practical, and even practicality has its deceptions, many people think in clichés, and even feel in clichés, and at their most rigorous they simply use one cliché to interrogate another, but in every generation, in every age, there are a few original people—and Streisand is original; and she often, if not always, has been fearless in art and politics.
“My eyes burn, I have seen the glory of a brighter sun,” Wright sings in “Dreaming Wide Awake,” with its limpid beginning. Lizz Wright sings, “Who are you, stranger, to come here, and answer all my prayers?” and one might ask the same thing of her: and I imagine she may spend her entire career answering the question. It is something to look forward to.
The album, A Little Moonlight, by Dianne Reeves is tasteful, intelligent, and pleasing; it is a collection of well-known songs, including “What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Darn That Dream,” “You Go To My Head,” “We’ll Be Together Again,” and “Skylark,” but it is impossible not to hear it, at least partly, as a gesture of nostalgia.