Divide by Ed Sheeran

Music CD – I’m a longtime fan of Ed Sheeran, and was pretty stoked for the release of his newest album, Divide.  Overall, I think this is a really strong album.  I love classic Ed Sheeran songs like “Photography” and “A Team,” in X and + [Plus sign], easy listening tracks that are perfect for zoning out to.  In Divide, we get a good mixture of soft-spoken Ed as well as a collection of more powerful, intense tracks that I think really show off Ed’s full vocal range.  You can hear him rising from his comfort zone, reaching out for those higher pitches and playing around with his vocals.

There are some great pumped-up beats for your morning drive to work, my favorite being “Castle on the Hill”. On the other hand we also get some good ‘ole smooth-talking Ed Sheeran in “Happier” and “Perfect”, songs for when you need some music but have a headache looming. Ed is a folky kind of musician in general, but I can’t stop obsessing about the swingy, Irish jig feel of “Galway Girl” and especially “*Nancy Mulligan” (*Unfortunately this track is only available on the Deluxe Version).  The acoustics are just beautiful and the music makes you want to get up and dance.  It’s a nice compilation of music.  I also just adore “Castle on the Hill;” it’s about missing where you’re from, and returning home to all the places and people you’ve missed.  It can sound like a love story, even romantic depending on the mood you are in whilst listening, but overall it’s a feel good, nostalgic song. You really get to hear the full range the artist has to offer in this album and those high notes are a real treat.

 

 

The World From the Side of the Moon by Phillip Phillips

phillipphillips-album-cover-400x400Music – Country to me has always been a difficult genre to nail down, with music ranging from classic country legends, to rock pairings, and ventures into the pop scene with just a twang of country accent.  I’ve even heard country rap!  It seems there is something for every music lover in this ever evolving genre.

For a minimum of two months at least, The World From the Side of the Moon by Phillip Phillip’s was my sole music provider.  I’m the kind of person that will listen a CD to death until I can’t bear another track, and Phillip Phillips was a great contender.  He has a folky, almost rock tone.  As a whole, I think this album is a great listen from start to finish.  The live tracks at the end of the album were also a nice bonus.  Having first heard Phillip Phillips as a contestant on American Idol, I was impressed with his solo voice outside of studio recordings, and his premier album did not disappoint.

The World From the Side of the Moon is a simple collection of songs that share a similar tone and rhythm.  It’s easy to pass through the whole album without really noticing how many songs have really gone by.  While some may find the album to be a bit monotonous, I enjoyed the constancy of the CD as a whole, which is great for as both background and avid-listening music.

All the Little Lights by Passenger

All-the-little-lightsMusic– I’ve recently begun expanding my collection of folky-alternative, easy listening music.  My first soft-spoken love was The Fray, followed by Coldplay, and the sweet acoustics of Mumford and Sons I’d been binging on the beautiful angst of  Ed Sheeran for awhile and knew it was time for a fresh sound.

Enter: All the Little Lights by Passenger.

Singer Michael David Rosenberg hails from Brighton, England and All the Little Lights is his third solo album.  His music has an indie-pop vibe mixed with a mellowing dose of acoustic folk (At least, that’s how I would describe it).  There is a certain intimacy about his music, a solo singer who produces his own acoustics, and for this reason (I’ve been told), his live performances are incredible.

Passenger is probably best known for the hit single, “Let Her Go,” but feel like his  other tracks are often overlooked due to the popularity of this one song.  A few of my favorite tracks on this album are: “Things That Stop You Dreaming” and “Holes.”  “Things that Stop You Dreaming” is about dealing with the difficulties in life, learning to appreciate what you have and continuing to pursue the things you love.  It’s a bit melancholy but also uplifting.

“Holes” is a quick paced  song with a strong beat that shows Passenger’s inclination towards lyrical songwriting.  There are two storylines introduced in “Holes”: man who has lost everything, left with no money in his pocket, and a woman abandoned by her husband, left to care for four young children.  The song talks about the holes we bear in our own lives–things we’ve lost, struggles we deal with, hardships–but ends on an uplifting note, that through all the troubles we experience, life goes on, and we carry on.

The Lumineers by The Lumineers

41ZsWDiEvfLMusic–It took me a few listens to really get into the music of The Lumineers.  Their self-titled album, The Lumineers is a blood-pumping anthem of songs that requires a higher volume for listeners to truly appreciate.   To me, the singer’s voice tends to fluctuate between soft and loud, creating a kind of high-low echoing effect.  I believe that the band is best enjoyed at high volumes, preferably played loudly whilst one sings along on the open road.  It’s also worth noting for this artist that the more you listen to the songs, the clearer their meanings become.

The Lumineers top hit single, “Ho Hey,” is one of the bands most well-known hits, but there are so many other songs deserving of love.  My favorite tracks on this album are “Submarine,” “Stubborn Love,” and “Charlie Boy.”

“Submarine” and “Charlie Boy” both make references to war in their lyrics.  The former is about a boy who spots a Japanese Submarine.  He rushes home to tell the townspeople, who laugh and say he’s seeing things.  This storyline may be addressing the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII.  In “Charlie Boy,” references to the Vietnam war appear in the lyrical  heartbreak of watching a loved one go off to war.  These are just a few interpretations of these lyrics.  Though sharing somber themes, “Submarine” has a powerful force that makes you want to jump up and dance, while the sweet, slow melody of “Charlie Boy” is great for winding down after a long day

“Stubborn Love” follows a man who can’t stop loving the woman who keeps letting him down and breaking his heart.  It’s a love song, but the story creates a relatable experience of the ups and downs of love.  Ironically, this is one of my favorite feel-good love songs.

 

 

 

Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey

honeymoonMusic CDHoneymoon by Lana Del Rey is a treat for her fans as well as those who like smoky, deep, lounge singer vocals. Her music has been labeled as alternative rock, hip hop, and indie. Her lyrics, many of which are written by her, are haunting and full of emotion. This CD contains 14 tracks. And I like all of them. Some of my favorite songs are: “High by the Beach”, “Terrence Loves You”, “Religion”, and “Salvatore”. Del Rey possesses an expansive contralto vocal range which spans more than three octaves. Ranging from high to low jazzy notes. She at times sounds like an angel, but don’t let her voice fool you, some of her lyrics can be quite gritty and explicit.

Some of her most popular songs include “Summertime Sadness” from the CD Born to Die and “Young and Beautiful” from the movie The Great Gatsby. Some of Lana’s favorite artists include Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, and Leonard Cohen. Adele is a fan of Lana Del Rey. For total entertainment, check out some of her music videos on YouTube.

Hamilton: The Original Broadway Cast Recording

Music – If you’re into musical theater (or, indeed, if you watch late-night talk shows), surely by now you’ve heard of Hamilton, the outrageously popular hip-hop musical about Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. If you haven’t: It’s a hip-hop musical. About Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. It is, in a word, amazing.

The story follows Hamilton (played by writer & composer Lin-Manuel Miranda) from his arrival in New York City in 1776 through the Revolutionary War, George Washington’s presidency, and to his death in a duel with Aaron Burr (spoilers!) in 1804. Burr, played by Leslie Odom, Jr., narrates, offering a little distance from Hamilton’s own relentless enthusiasm. The music is a brilliant mashup of theatrical flair and the past several decades of hip-hop, quoting both lyrically and musically from sources as diverse as Les Miserables, Beyoncé, Company, Kanye West, Gilbert & Sullivan, and Biggie Smalls.

This show is so dense, complex, and uniformly strong it’s hard to pick out favorite pieces. General Lafayette’s (Daveed Diggs) rap in “Guns and Ships” is a huge amount of fun; Burr’s statement of purpose in “Wait for It” is outstanding; Thomas Jefferson (also Daveed Diggs, in a great piece of double casting) never gets his own showstopper, but he steals every piece he’s in anyway. When it comes down to it, though, it’s Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsbury) and Eliza Schuyler (Philippa Soo) I love best – their songs, particularly “Satisfied” and “Burn,” are some of the best depictions I’ve ever seen of strong women constrained by their place in history.

If you get hooked, there’s plenty of American history to keep you busy, from Ron Chernow’s biography that formed the basis of the show to new titles like War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel That Stunned the Nation and Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

Castor, The Twin by Dessa

castor the twinMusic Dessa is a 33-year-old rapper and writer from Minneapolis, a part of the cerebral indie hip-hop collective Doomtree. Her style is much more musical than most rappers, but her skill with words is outstanding. (And fair enough – she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a philosophy degree at age 20.) She and the rest of Doomtree appear regularly on “most-underrated” lists of modern artists, but despite all this critical acclaim, she hasn’t yet made it big. It’ll happen one of these days, because Dessa is just too fantastic to ignore.

Castor, the Twin is a remix album of many of her more highly-produced tracks from earlier albums, False Hopes and A Badly Broken Code. What that means is that this is a hip-hop album with a singer-songwriter feel. If Joni Mitchell did hip-hop beats, she might sound like Dessa. There’s not a bad track on the album, but my favorites are “Dixon’s Girl,” a sympathetic shout-out to under-appreciated and abused women in the music industry, and “The Crow,” which borrows the symbol of Edgar Allan Poe’s avian nemesis for a soul-baring song about loss and survival.

Love in Venice by Andre Rieu

love in veniceMusic – This is the new album from Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra, released in November 2014. Andre offers you his hand and invites you on a journey through the Venice night via gondola. It is a declaration of love to perhaps the most beautiful city in the world, and provides a popular selection of the most well-known Italian melodies.  It is the theme Andre chose for his 10th anniversary of the Vrijthof concerts, from the romantic Dutch square in Maastricht, The Netherlands.  Andre Rieu is the world’s best-selling classical musician.  He has received more than 400 Platinum and 171 Gold Awards, and Love in Venice went straight to No. 1 on the Classical Charts.  Andre and the Johann Strauss Orchestra – between 80 and 150 musicians – travel around the world performing about 100 concerts per year. They are as successful as some of the biggest global pop and rock music acts. Rieu is known as the modern day “Waltz King,” a title originally bestowed upon Johann Strauss II.  He plays a 1667 Stradivarius violin, and he and his wife, Marjorie, do all the arrangements of the famous songs.  I loved all of the music, but especially “Love in Venice,” “Volare,” and “That’s Amore.” There are 18 songs on Love in Venice, but the DVD has many more and is incredibly beautiful, festive and colorful.  So sit back and allow your imagination to drift into gorgeous, romantic Venice with wonderful Italian music.

Cheek to Cheek by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

cheek to cheekMusic – This is the new 2014 collaboration album by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. It consists of jazz standards by famous jazz composers like George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin. Cheek to Cheek was inspired by the desire of Bennett and Gaga to introduce the songs to a younger generation. It debuted at number one on Billboard and earned Gaga her third consecutive number-one album, and it extended Bennett’s record as the oldest person, at 88, to achieve number-one status on the charts. Of course, Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) is one of the bestselling vocalists of all time, and has five Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Video Music Awards. Although her Pop albums – The Fame, The Fame Monster, and Born This Way – brought her great success, she now plans to do one jazz album per year. The legendary Tony Bennett (Anthony Dominick Benedetto) has 17 Grammy Awards and has sold over 50 million records worldwide. Cheek to Cheek is one of the best jazz vocal albums to come out in years, and it features scintillating big band arrangements and famous jazz musicians with the band. Every song is a delight, but I especially liked “Lush Life,” (by Billy Strayhorn), “Nature Boy,” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” This is a stunningly excellent CD, and it will keep your heart pounding. It also has a generous fold out photo montage, with candid photos of the performers.

The Essential Julio Iglesias

julioMusic – This is the new 2014 double album from Julio Iglesias, with 37 songs including duets with other famous singers.  It has been said that “it’s Julio Iglesias’ world, and the rest of us just make love in it.”  Julio is a Spanish singer and songwriter from Madrid. He has sold more than 300 million records worldwide in 14 languages and released more than 80 albums, with more than 2,600 gold and platinum records.  He is the best-selling Latin music artist in history and one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. Julio was an excellent soccer player, but after a serious car accident (he couldn’t walk for two years), a nurse gave him a guitar and he discovered his musical talent. After earning a law degree, in 1979 he moved to Miami, Florida and started moving up to great musical achievements, singing in different languages such as English, French, Portuguese, German and others. Julio is married to the Dutch model, Miranda Rijnsburger, and they live in the Dominican Republic, with their five children. Dream through a romantic day and night with all of these wonderful songs – sure to melt your heart. I loved all of the songs on The Essential Julio Iglesias especially “Fragile” (a duet with Sting), “The Summer Wind” (a duet with Frank Sinatra, thanks to the magic of technology), and “Amor.” Take this album along on your next date night.