Contact: tdharvey@hotmail.co.uk Or Follow On Twitter @TimDavidHarvey

Friday, 14 June 2019

REVIEW: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN-WESTERN STARS

4/5

Wild Boss.

Off Broadway. The Boss is back. And 'Born To Run' again this road takes the American dream of Bruce Springsteen off E Street like a 'Tunnel Of Love'. All for a songwriter album of solo standards with the spirit of Roy Orbison riding shotgun for 'Western Stars'. Beyond beautiful, the Boss Bruce's first album since his 2014 'High Hopes' reworking (and his first actual album of original material since twenty twelve's 'Wrecking Ball' like Miley swing) sees him chase wild horses from Tucson to Nashville. All the way from Sleepy Joe's cafe to a Moonlight Motel. Driving fast it's been a busy half decade for the boss of all bosses (sorry Rick Ross, but how dare you call yourself "The Boss"). In the last five years this wayfarer has released an amazing autobiography named after his seminal album and hit and even taken that book on the road of a theatrical tour for 'Springsteen On Broadway'. Not to mention companion collections to go with them and tide you over to his first full release of new material. We made enough to retire his whole family and children's children off that one show. But you know the blue jeans and collar of the working man's hero was always meant to give more like his all. So Bruce once again laces up those workman boots and goes to work, pedal to metal. But this time instead of burning rubber, this runaway American dream cruises down the coast with us riding passenger. Tuning into our new favourite records below these Western stars for a welcome return to this grit and gravel from the highwayman.

19 albums strong and the tank is far from empty for Springsteen this Spring to Summertime Bruce. From the title tracks tribute and classic Americana barroom performance, album artwork video under those whisky gleaming neon lights for his 'Long Way Home' best video in years with a 'Human Touch', here's to him like the cowboys. "I wake up in the morning/Just glad my boots are on" Springsteen somberly sings as he gets as honest and vulnerable as he did revealing his mental health problems for the first time in his sixty plus life in the pages of his prose and then the stage of his show. Getting his Johnny Cash 'American Recordings' on in this El Camino Wild West ranch ride and telling us "Once I was shot by John Wayne" this ranger displays great poise and true grit. Singing, "some lost sheep from Oklahoma/Sips her Mojito down at the Whiskey Bar/Smiles and says she thinks she remembers me from that/Commercial with the credit card" like he was the Geico lizard out in this desert. 'Western Stars' is a soaring, self-titled single like the trails of 'Tucson Train', or the 'Hello Sunshine' welcome that shares the same hood of the car warmth as the 'American Beauty' Record Store Day '14 EP. But holding his thumb up and out on the 'Hitch Hikin'' opening he looks to ride with the character driven, seventies Southern California pop rock songs of country star Glen Campbell and the classic compositions of Burt Bacharach. And he achieves just that on his first solo work since the soul of 2005's 'Devils And Dust' album with 'Drive Fast (The Stuntman)' feeling like 'The Wrestler' that it could be some soundtrack song off the 'Streets Of Philadelphia' worthy of another Academy Award Oscar.

Between alone and home, sorrow and solitude, Springsteen sings, "Same sad story, love and glory goin' 'round and 'round/Same old cliché, a wanderer on his way, slippin' from town to town/Some find peace here on the sweet streets, the sweet streets of home/Where kindness falls and your heart calls for a permanent place of your own" on 'The Wayfarer' over somber strings in this at times cold, heartland desert. It may be lonely, but Springsteen finds some roadside solidarity over the end of a different type of bar and chaser in the cup of Joe from 'Sleepy Joe's Café'. All it takes is a couple of shots for Springsteen to romanticise something as ordinary as coffee. "I drive on down from the big town Friday when the clock strikes five/As the red sun sets in the ocean, I start to come alive/Summer girls in the parking lot slap on their makeup and they flirt the night away," Bruce over another round beautifies this blend of modern social interaction. You can almost watch the waitress walking around refilling everyone's coffee from her filter. But back on the open road and 'Chasin' Wild Horses', the ones Mick Jagger sang about couldn't drag this Rolling Stone away from this life "up on the Montana line" for a man who "never said goodbye" and probably never will. Things get real atmospheric and beautiful when he stares at 'Sundown' from his windshield of contemplation. Musing, "Sundown ain't the kind of place you want to be on your own/It's all long, hot, endless days and cold nights all alone/I drift from bar to bar, here in lonely town/Just wishing you were here with me, come sundown/In Sundown the cafés are filled with lovers passing time/In Sundown all I've got's trouble on my mind". But it's 'North Of Nashille' where this rock God like a wrecking ball in reverse gone country may truly find a new home. Souped up on Campbell like Andy Warhol this Jersey boy goes beyond the Meadowlands to look for Asbury Park greetings from a whole new postcard. But on the cinematic orchestration of 'Stones', Bruce broods bravely over a break up ballad, "I woke up this morning with stones in my mouth/You said those were only the lies you've told me/Those are only the lies you've told me." Longing for the Autumn of love like 'There Goes My Miracle' for a song that is signature Springsteen. But the testament to the traditional texture of this timeless testimonial is the sweet swan song 'Moonlight Motel' as the neon flickers off like our truck stopped's engine and up the stairs we go to our room. "Now the pool's filled with empty, eight-foot deep/Got dandelions growin' up through the cracks in the concrete/Chain-link fence half-rusted away/Got a sign says 'Children be careful how you play'". Closing the blinds on the 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town', Springsteen pays respectful tribute, checking in to a family business and community that is America as the American open road itself. And as the trail stops here, Bruce after getting so personal won't tour this album like his Broadway debut. Instead he'll return to E Street this fall to make more music and memories with some old friends. Because at the end of the day, no matter how far you go, there's nothing as close as home. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Tuscon Train', 'Somewhere North Of Nashville', 'Moonlight Motel'.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

REVIEW: MILEY CYRUS-SHE IS COMING EP

4/5

Come Again.

1-833-SHE-ISMC. Call the hotline and come together over this. Miley Cyrus is back. She really is. In a big way. People are going Gaga over this former 'Hannah Montana' bubblegum pop star reborn into the second act of her amazing, acclaimed career. You can even get your own AI doll version of her for your teenage daughters dream. Or at least the robot of her other alter-ego Ashley O in the fifth and latest series of 'Black Mirror' she scene steals in her epic episode as a pop idol and icon turned into the futuristic, changing times hologram of her former self and manipulated manufacture of those behind the scenes looking to take artists for the profit of all they're worth. Leaving their individuality, identity and humanity on the cutting room floor. But after pop covering Nine Inch Nails as amazing as her 'Murray Christmas' take on 'Silent Night'. Or John Lennon 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' cover with son Sean. Not to forget her lyrical reworking of the Christmas classic 'Baby It's Cold Outside'. Taking away it's harassing misogyny. Singing "don't f### with my freedom" though on her new single, the 'Nothing Breaks Like A Heart' with Mark Robson singer and her 'Mother's Daughter' shows no one's going to make her do or be anything she doesn't want to do or be. On the straight banger that comes from the new EP and follow up to her classic 'Younger Now' country roots album, 'She Is Coming'. Tongue in cheek teasing this extended play for weeks and Never Minding The Bollocks like the punk cut-off t-shirt she wears on the black and white artwork, this sex pistol comes back with the biggest hit of her career in her year like a wrecking ball. So, "back up, back up, back up, back up, boy, ooh. Back up, back up, back up, back up, boy, ooh!"

Anthemic pop hasn't been this powerful in ages. As the entertaining celebrity and amazing artist spotlight of the moment owns it. "Hallelujah I'm a witch/I'm a witch, hallelujah/Swish swish, I'm a three-point shooter/I blow through ya/Like a hot wind out in the bayou, ya" she Steph Curry with the shot swag sings over a banging beat as the daughter whose mother told her she'd make it, makes it. Like Prince once said and she does, "there must be something in the water." I'll have what she's sipping on. Because, well the fountain of her famous success looks to never run dry even out in California. Somewhere in America...Miley is still working. On the first of many EP's and releases to stream from your Spotify's to the Apple of your favourite playlists. "Swish, swish mother####!" On 'Unholy' the rolling stoner gets high off the feeling as her music does the same to us. "I'm sick of the faking, the using, the taking/The people calling me obscene/You hate me, you love me/You just wanna touch me/I'm only trying to get some peace/So let me do me," she sings to the hypocrites on another heater oath of an anthem for the hot boxed car as she talks about getting drunk and high and loving on the kitchen table after take out. Reminding those who judge her giving in to her indulgences, "so what, so is everyone else." But it's all a 'D.R.E.A.M' with "all he girls in my room look like Dolly" and the supreme clientele collaboration with Shaolin's finest Ghostface Killah as they flip the concept on the 'C.R.E.A.M.' of the Wu Tang Clan's classic cuts with the clever twist of even more hardcore than these hip hop heads switching cash for drugs like a back alley deal. "Always last to leave the party/Drugs rule everything around me/Wake up with new tattoos on my body/Drugs rule everything around me," she sings as rap God Ghostface kills it's on the outro in kind, rhyming, "Got the white that's sure to light the floor like in 'Billie Jean'/Scarface nights (Nights)/500 thousand on the pinkie, Broadway ice/We throw bangers at weddings and y'all throw rice/Lollapalooza, Coachella custies, that's my type/Party all night." This is what wildest D.R.E.A.M.S. are made of.

Drag racing through the second half of this extended play, RuPaul is on hand to dress up the absolute sass of its own 'Cattitude'. Introducing this project with a runway of attitude saying, "Miley Cyrus/Bitch, you look like you done already did had yours/You better go take your country ass indoors and put some damn clothes on/'Cause nobody need to be seeing all of that/The library is officially open". And book and street smart the girl from Nashville, Tennessee gets a little more than country, trapping with her tongue out, "Turn up your gratitude, turn down your attitude/I love my pussy, that means I got cattitude/If you don't feel what I'm saying, I don't f### with you." Before sparking even more shocks to the system to both rockers like the Kings Of Leon ("my pussys on fire") and even the Axl Rose/Slash of poppa's pals Guns N Roses ("sweet pussy of mine"). And you hope she's talking about her cat. It's out the bag now. Then on an EP of banger(z) on a 'Party Up The Street' with Swae Lee and Mike Will Made It invited she puts the hammer down like her Hemsworth husbands avenging brother. Before truly baring all on the beautiful closer in tribute to him and absolute, initiate, vulnerable honesty with 'The Most', which might just be the best of the majority of the music Miley has made. Cyrus gets serious singing, "How many times have I left you in the deep?/I don't know why you still believe in me/Oh, oh, and even in my darkest days/Even in my lowest place, you love me the most/And even when I can't stay, even when I run away/You love me the most/So why do I hurt you so? Is it 'cause I know?/Why do I hurt you so?/Is it 'cause you love me the most?" Lana and Lady take note, Ashley O's real reflection has just held up a mirror to your most meaningful music moments as she fades to black. But only for the next few as a trilogy of EP's are set to conclude before Miley is coming for a full length ('She Is Miley Cyrus') this fall. 'She Is Here' like she's never left and with the next chapters of her career Miley Cyrus is about to show you that 'She Is Everything'. Come what may. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Mothers Daughter', 'D.R.E.A.M. (feat Ghostface Killah)', 'The Most'.

Monday, 27 May 2019

BOOK REVIEW: COMMON-LET LOVE HAVE THE LAST WORD

4/5

Common People.

468. That's how many times the word "love" is used in rapper slash actor Common's new memoir and second scribe, 'Let Love Have The Last Word'. Believe me I counted. Why? Because this language truly is a labour of love. Almost 500. Half of a thousand. Even though love doesn't appear at first until the seal of the seventh page. That's more than twice as many times than there is pages to this books body of text. But never overused. Always heaven sent meant. "I never knew a love, love, love like this". You truly are seeing the light here. Love is all around and all you need. It's something we all have in common, hurt or heartfelt. It has the power to lift you up...and put you right back down. It can break your heart. And it can heal all world war wounds. It can come from mother, daughter, father's and sons. Lovers and friends. And everyone all around us. To what could become of strangers on the street street to those we will never meet. There's love for the physical. The spiritual. Animals. The earth we live on and the wildest dreams we fall asleep with every night, looking towards the future. It can even happen as the author of this book tells us in simply holding the door open for another person. "Love is a verb" as Common says. A doing word. A call to action. "The first emotion I ever experienced was love", Lonnie Lynn wrote in his autobiography almost a decade back. His first New York Times bestselling book, 'One Day It'll All Make Sense', named after one of his hallmark hip-hop classics like 'Can I Borrow A Dollar', 'Resurrection' and the double-header of definitive healing in 'Be' and 'Finding Forever'. Not to forget the beautiful and experimental 'Electric Circus'. And this four letter word runs through his follow up and most personal and profound prose yet like blood through your veins and hope to your heart. The 'Glory' Oscar winning singer who has also appeared in 'Selma', 'The Hate U Give', 'Terminator' and 'John Wick' movie chapters, fighting with Batman, Christian Bale and kicking Keanu Reeves ass like their was a bounty on the boogeyman and used to love H.E.R. fist to desk, taps in and lets us feel how his heart really beats with the click, clack of his typewriter. Like we all will in unison time.

Love is...this. The corner of your bookshelf really is about to give you this feeling. The dreamer and the believer will give you the desire and faith of this with his vision that is more than just the words you see on the page. The genre icon who once sang with John Legend that he's "from the land where money talks and love stutters," gives it it's voice here for all those who can't find the words. "God is Love. Forgiveness is Love. Self-Care is Love. Art is Love. Compassion is Love". The Sam Cooke and Stevie Wonder soul of hip-hop and the greatest and most inspirational conscious rapper of all-time gives us the perfect Spring read for the park or early evenings as the light from the sun comes in. Giving us a memoir manual as inspirational as the king Muhammed Ali's 'Soul Of A Butterfly' or the late sportscaster Stuart Scott's 'Every Day I Fight' cancer battle, the man who fell in love with her, Erykah Badu and tennis ace legend Serena Williams as well as his beautiful mother and daughter details his loves life and times, whilst relating to ours and offering a mirror through his words of wisdom for us to reflect. Like his chapter bookmark beginnings with love quotes from the legendary likes of Martin Luther King Jnr, Maya Angelou and Socrates, all with intention not pretention. Like the closing quote of 'If Beale Street Could Talk' author James Baldwin tells us, "Great art can only be created out of love". And you can see where the 'Come Close' and 'Retrospect For Love' artist got his inspiration from like Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill. Preaching gospel, compelling and eloquent, Common shows us what love means to him in relation to God, family, his passion projects like this one and his desires and dreams for another partner and to one day be a husband as well as a father. Vulnerable in his commitment he reveals his flaws when it comes to wanting to make this house a home and his mistakes as a man. All so we can pay attention and heed. All so we like he can learn from his mistakes in our own love for self and what in turn that can do for us opening our hearts to others. Love in action over love addiction sure sounds like a plan...straight from the heart.

Honest and genuine, the philanthropist, Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn gets real and raw when he gets to the real heart of matters like watching his pops pass or his stepfather never leaving his mother's side when she was sick. Yet for all the times it's used-even in its unaccounted for past tenses-the word "love" is missing from many pages detailing prison visits from the rapper in concert like country late legend Johnny Cash performing at San Quentin. All until the end of these passages. This could be because Common's love in action with this reaching out to the bonds of the incarcerated speaks for itself without puffing it's chest out. Or it may be symbolism to show what is truly missing from our prison system today. Common also opens up the conversation further on mental health matters, especially in relation to the immeasurable amount of men not speaking up, out, or being spoken for. Especially those hiding behind the shame of abuse. And Lonnie Lynn too after decades in the spotlight and even more in coming to terms with this all in this moving memoir reveals he was molested. And in making this stand against toxic masculinity and sexual violence towards people in more ways than one, he bravely gives more than himself a voice. Showing he, we, you, I, him and her are never alone in this. His story like his life is really something. Prologue to the closing chapter. And in an epic epilogue of powerful portraits and personal playlists Rashid gives us something for our Spotify to show us what he was jamming to whilst putting all this lasting 'Love' down. Classics like 'A Love Supreme' by John Coltrane, 'The Makings Of You' ("children laughing all around you"...truly) by Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye's 'God Is Love', the Commodores 'Zoom' and 'The Way Young Lovers Do' by Van Morrison. Get in sync now to this headphone rhythm. But if that isn't enough for your lent ears, like it all making sense one day, it seems like love just won't have the last word in these here pages. Like naming his first book after one of his albums, Common will names his next album after this book. A summer album set to smash feature J Dilla, Kendrick Lamar and soul man Leon Bridges. And songs like the tear inducing, Marvin Gaye inspired 'God Is Love' with the aforementioned, the bicep curl strong 'Hercules' and 'Her Love', a spiritual sequel to his signature classic 'I Used To Love H.E.R.' like this album is to this book. Showing that when it comes to rappers writing with a pad and pen, their true love will have the last word on wax. Because after all like Rashid Lynn's Common Sense tells us 'Let Love Have The Last Word' "is not just a declaration. It's a statement of purpose." And what a one to make with so much of that. Love to some may just be a word. But it's one to the rest that will last forever. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

REVIEW: MAVIS STAPLES-WE GET BY

4/5

Staples It Together.

Soul staples don't get much more signature than Mavis Staples. The iconic powerhouse gospel singer was already a legend. And one for countless years and decades of told influence. Like Aretha. Like Stevie. Like Diana Ross. Sam Cooke. You may have heard of The Staples Singers family affair. But being a prominent voice through the decades of MLK, JFK, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali, how about her work as a civil rights activist? Singing about the rhythm and blues has already inducted her into the rock and roll Hall of Fame. Not to mention the blues one. And she's stayed as relevant as her cause. Staying the course and working with legends like the late, great Prince, mainstream mass appeals like Gorillaz and legends of the future like singer/songwriter Hozier. But now the Chicago great who has been in this game for more than a half century and decades change starts a whole new legacy. Great singer/songwriter of our generation Ben Harper has already worked with his fair share of legends like himself. From the Innocent Criminals, to the Blind Boys Of Alabama. Relentless7 to Fistful of Mercy. And blues icon Charlie Musselwhite to his own idol, his dear mama, Ellen Harper. But now in producing the new 'We Get By' album of Mavis 'the mother to us all' Staples with his own signature. The perfect marriage collaboration like Rick Rubin and the man in black, Johnny Cash. This is Mavis Staples' American recordings. Harper spins his definitive and diverse discography as the most selfless and amazing artist of our time to classic records of our past that in times like this in this life help us get by.

Classic like the chain-link cover Gordon Parks, 1956 photo of kids looking at the ferris wheel of an amusement park from behind a fence (you seeing this Trump?), this testament is timeless from the moment Staples struts her evergreen stuff at 80 years old over Harper's hallmark guitar riffs on the opening call to 'Change' over the decades. You can see why legacy makers like the all dancing new bohemian American dream of Maggie Rogers with the other best album of the year ('Heard It In A Past Life' that hasn't come off constant repeat since January and won't until this time next year), who performed at Mavis' 80th birthday party concert take so much inspiration from this icon. Although that backstage International Women's Day photo from this pioneers Twitter timeline says it all in a thousand words from Rogers in awe face as Staples with her hands cupped offers her wisdom pearls. Just like here as she sings, "Gotta change around here/Can't go on this way/Things gotta change around here/Say it loud, say it clear/Things gonna change around here" like heed should have already been heard and learned...for decades. Before duetting with the dynamic Harper on the title track and equally rocking to the souls core 'We Get By' after 'Anytime'. Where Staples sings, "Give me a one-way ticket/Somewhere I've never been/I'm rock, paper, scissors/And I'm bound to win". But bringing 'Brothers and Sisters' together like the family names on Ben's Beatles 'John, Paul, George and Ringo' inspired t-shirt in the above picture and lasting lyrics like, "We belong to each other/Brothers and sisters (Brothers and sisters)/So be strong for each other/Brothers and sisters (Brothers and sisters)/Got to be brave in a scary world/Brothers and sisters (Brothers and sisters)." Showing under the sun we are all one big family in this world.

Slow burning on the smouldering 'Heavy On My Mind', Mavis muses on the fight or flight choices we have today and tomorrow in this life or death,"Locked in a safe/In a cage, in a cell/We can wait out the storm/Or we can stand in the rain/Gonna have to mourn/Or hide from some pain." Whilst the upbeat 'Sometime' claps in blues dance unison like Harper's 'Get Up' collaboration with Musselwhite 'We Can't End This Way' here on 'Get By'. That one waltzed it's way to a Grammy. This one two steps to legendary status. Forget platinum. This record is the classic gold standard. Just like it's standout track, 'Never Needed Anyone'. The brooding blue ballad worthy of Billie or cigarette ash bars from yester decade all staring at the stage of an icon in her own spotlight. The kind of court Staples held 50 years ago and still does to this day on a tribute to that era as timeless as the classics she wrote back then in her prime. Wait...decades and decades, pushing a century later, she's still in her prolific prime. Even 'Stronger' like said song and the sense of self she gives her listeners. "Samson tore the building down/Moses climbed to higher ground/And when it comes to me and you/There ain't nothing I wouldn't do," on a song where the singing tells us nothing in the world is as strong as Mavis' love for her muse. A "house on the hill" or a "face on a dollar bill" is just bricks and mortar and spare change in comparison. Just like on 'Chance On Me' where she tells us "I don't need a sky full of stars", or a symphony. More like "just one violin" as she bares her soul, "Wondering, wandering/Lightning and thundering/Longing and hungering/Love gives us no warning." This is the raw elements of the genre in all its glory. Closing things up like last orders of the blues, 'Hard To Leave' shares songwriting DNA with the set stealing, 'Never Needed Anyone.' "Late night calls of longing/Pressing play/On Marvin Gaye/Trying to right the wrongings/Softly reaching over for your touch upon my sleeve/It's always hard, so hard to leave." Before the 'Change' reprise closer of 'One More Change' brings us right back to the opening call just like the testament that this testimonial is a tribute to the same message this activist for civil rights delivered half centuries ago. And that's the point. The more we seek to change, the more things move in that same direction, no matter what barrier has to be broken like a fence climbed or a wall leaped. "Been holding on too long to let go/Been running too hard to slow down."  Even without Abraham, Martin and John. Or even Obama. We can still get by thanks to the change Staples brings back together. Forget the bad weather. Mavis' soul shines bright for life. Forget pushing a century. Timeless artists craft forever. And there's a message in this music that will always be read like those willing to lend their ears to listen. Give it up. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Change', 'We Get By Feat Ben Harper', 'Never Needed Anyone'.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

REVIEW: NORAH JONES-BEGIN AGAIN

4/5

Keeping Up With The Jones.

Sunrise again. Apart from Alicia Keys, there is nothing more New York than Norah Jones. Apart from Broadway and bagels that is...and come to think of it, how about Broadway Bagel? If you've never been there, you've never been to New York my friend. And if you correct me and say you have, well time to call it like it is and go there twice. Anyway I digress. "New York City such a beautiful disease", Miss Jones once sang back in her time with the Peter Malick Group. And only someone with Norah's playlist could call you a disease and make it sound like she loves you as much as you do her. Jazz club blues, smoky, smouldering vocals. Smoother than velvet, but like a revolver to touch. Ever since her encrusted in diamond debut in 2002, 'Come Away With Me' and it's self titled beautiful ballad (have you ever heard something sung so movingly as, "come away with me in the night/come away with me and I'll never stop loving you") Miss Jones has racked up Grammy's like Miss Keys and been as significant to the great American songbook as Springsteen. 9 majors and counting. Striking several significant solo notes and numbers. Like the 'Sunrise' morning after of 'Feels Like Home'. Or the in her own lane and stride of 'Not Too Late'. She's also been a major part of the classic collaborative process too. Duetting with everyone from Ray Charles to Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. Andre 3000 of OutKast to The Lonely Island. And Rolling Stone Keith Richards to that talking, swearing, fuzzy bear 'Ted'. 'Take Off Your Cool' that never goes out of style and the bluesy inspired 'Illusion' the playlist pick standouts of this set she's also collected together and released. Jones has kept up, cutting records with Dangermouse, Daniele Luppi and Jack White and albums with her own bands like the super girl group Puss N Boots and The Little Willie's (Nelson not penises). She even made an Every Brothers covers tribute album with Green Days Billie Joe Armstrong, 'Foreverly'. All this has helped her solo work soar. From the change of tune in 'The Fall'. To the 'Little Broken Hearts' that pushed and cracked the envelope further for her most diverse set yet. And then in 2016 the Billboard top jazz artist of the 2000's decade took it back to basics and her signature sound for 'Day Breaks' like another sunrise on a new morning.

But now like a Keira Knightley movie getting over a douchey Adam Levine with the help of the Hulk whose just been fired by Mos Def it's time for Norah Jones to 'Begin Again'. And again this is something different from the dynamic Jones of traditional music texture. On the same day the South Korean mega pop outfit BTS arm themselves with another seven seals, Jones also releases a seven track album in what seems to be the new Spotify trend halfway house between EP's and LP's (SP's anyone?). Just see all those Kanye West produced works in one week last year from his own album, to the latest from NaS and Kid Cudi. Artists today know that in this social media age of the swipe audiences attention spans are waning as the classic album is dying to this cherry picking time for your favourite songs. Even so Norah still delivers her most compelling, cohesive set in years for something that plays like a short classic album from a bygone pre-digital era that didn't have to hit double figures to be top ten. These songs collected together almost like a greatest hits of her last couple of years or a Smashing Pumpkins week by week concept album over a calender are from sessions Jones has recorded since her last album, vowing to never stop writing and singing and to just she what she's got. It's a different and definitive route that works for Norah like her most amazing album artwork yet (think the video to Taylor Swift's 'Style' meets something her contemporary Ray LaMontagne would do). As in this time of an electric Joni Mitchell, Maggie Rogers showing she is the all American star of the future next door now, Norah Jones shows she is still more than a legend, but someone still crafting her own creative legacy for listeners, moving with the time signatures.

Dylan would be proud of the outstanding opener 'My Heart Is Full' too. This chant call to conscious arms looks at the world today held at the length of one and offers a hand and resolute chorus in unison. Before breaking into a beat of polished production straight out of the independent side of mainstream music's playlist playbook. Old meets new as the times are still a'changing, yet somehow staying the same like this vintage modern hallmark new start from the top from Jones. It like this all sounds like nothing Norah has ever done before. And she and we are all the better for it. As she asks, "are we broken" again and again, singing, "I can see (see, see)/People hurting (hurting, hurting)/People preaching (preaching, preaching)/People watching (watching, watching)/Some are listening (listening, listening)/Some are hearing (hearing, hearing)/Many talking (talking, talking)/Others working (working, working)" and at the top of her voice "I will rise" even more to the fade of one of the most important and influential things, simple in its nature, but profound in its statement that she's ever put down. Whilst the title track is back on that 'Day Breaks' signature, yet making that sound shimmer and shine in time with someone who knows a classic record of their own making is their daily bread and butter, on both sides. As 'It Was You' segues into a more grown up love yearn. Before 'A Song With No Name' over spaced acoustics dedicates short but lasting lines like, "If I go on my own/And I see you in my dreams/And I hope to again/I have silently schemed/If I had a gun/If I had a knife/If I was the one/If I was your wife". This sets standout session 'Uh Oh' sounds like a Luppi loop from the Dangermouse 'Seasons Trees' changing age. Whilst the fall piano of 'Wintertime' is the perfect song for that time of year as our pulled coats in N.Y.C. look to still escape that type of breezing and bracing weather. Whilst the perfect closer of this chapter, 'Just A Little Bit' is all you need for these relaxed but focussed sessions of tracks recorded over three days or less to show that this confident but care free collection is exactly what music needs when an artist is in her prime and stride. Purity and the natural order of songwriting and concept creation, birthed off a pad and pen, microphone and instrumental accompaniment. And if this today trend and musical styling really is a new beginning for Jones, then like Sam, play it again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'My Heart Is Full', 'Uh Oh', 'Just A Little Bit'.

Friday, 12 April 2019

REVIEW: BTS-MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA

4/5

Seoul Mapping.

Alright, alright, alright. If Matthew McConaughey is down with them, then they must be cool. I ain't dazed and confused. Unless Moon Dog has been smoking some of that Snoop Dogg. The 'Dallas Buyers Club' of a 'True Detective' McConaissance can't be wrong. Late Night's Jimmy Fallon can't be wrong. Ellen Degeneres can't be wrong. Selling out Wembley stadium in London, England can't be wrong. TIME magazines iconic cover can't be wrong. The UNITED NATIONS and that stirring speech can't be wrong. The heart of Asia, Seoul and the whole South of Korea can't be wrong.  The entire world singing along on a Richter Scale between One Direction and Beatlemania all in word for word, not Bill Murray in translation Korean can't be wrong. A billion served can't be. An army. A movement. Burning the stage and igniting the studio. The Bangtan Boys. BTS. V, Jin, Jimin, J-Hope, Suga, Jungkook and R.M. They told you to 'Love Yourself' too and you invited them to the Grammy's in tuxedos dancing to Dolly Parton and awarding H.E.R. in Hollywood. Next year, they'll probably win one. Or even have a category invented for them and their K Pop genre for music's Oscars. Tomorrow they will be live from New York for 'Saturday Night'. But today Seoul music's finest and the biggest boy band ever, from the Backstreets to all those other boys are getting 'Persona' personal with their 'Map Of The Soul'.

Google and put a finger on it. Or just go into the map like Joey friends and right from the "YO" jump you'll see that these boys are back like their town that they've put on the soul of this world cities map. And these idols are getting bigger and better than ever like their "what's good Korea" Nicki Minaj remix feature. They're about to be bosses for the whole careers. With collabo duets from everyone from singer of the moment Halsey (the American dream theatre meets candy coloured like the hair video visual of the sugary pop 'Boy With Luv', that even features these dance steppers playing the 'Big' piano) and millennial icon Ed Sheeran ('Make It Right'. That sounds distinctly BTS and sheer Sheeran, all at the same instrumental in synchronicity time) who can both expect their own new army soldiers. There is no 'Fake Love' for these Seoul men who drop the mic once again like their Steve Aoki D.J. set, cake throwing like it's your birthday banger, as they stay in their land for their victory lap, comfortably in the driver's seat with the whole world riding shotgun. And it all begins with the hardest working leader in all of K Pop and mainstream music. The group's official spokesman on the mic and translator R.M. with pure bars like when he hot potato passed it, passed it, back and forth with Washington's Wale, holding his own on 'Change'. With pockets of rhymes, leaving other rappers coming up with lint. Now paid in full, R.M. is releasing playlist mixtapes for fun and free. Like last year's 'mono.' music that he gifted gave right between these idols era of love yourself revolution and this soul persona. One moving, mood music that featured an introspective perspective and shout-out to his hometown 'Seoul', with big in Asia, electric British duo Honne (who also have R.M. jumping back on the remix of their heartbreakingly cool track 'Crying Over You'), one to the testimonial, travel journal tribute traditions of 'Tokyo' and of course the artful, deep look into depression with soaring strength in the beautiful downpour of 'Forever Rain'. For a cool, cohesive set of real music, more personally profound than pop and with a longevity to it that will play for longer than its unofficial full release status. And now with this 'Intro' to 'Persona' going it all alone like his army of one amazing video serving as a trailer, channeling the flow of his favourite rap gods and taking them all to his own language school, R.M. shows he really is a rap monster with delivery for days like FedEx. Real hip-hop is real hip-hop regardless of the language and if you don't get it it's time to Google translate and catch up to this real rap from a real rapper. There isn't a bigger or better way for this album to start than with this Moonchild.

Seven seals track this latest release from BTS that is set to move more millions than those who will be tuning in for NBC's SNL this weekend. These billboard stars are about to be number one on the Hot 100 with a bullet quick sell out like their stadium tours the minute they hit the net. And if you think seven members coming up with just the same amount of tracks as days of the week for this highly anticipated and long awaited release isn't enough, then haven't you learned in this Spotify streaming age already? Rest assured with headphones on that this is just the first route on their 'Map Of The Soul' magic, mystery musical tour. After starring down 'Face Yourself' they had two 'Tears' and 'Answers' to 'Love Yourself' with last year for a holy trinity, big three. And besides music icon Norah Jones released a new album too today. Her beautiful and best in years 'Begin Again', sounding like nothing she's ever put on record before. And guess what? Guess how many tracks long? Yep! A magnificent seven! So come away with that in the night and I will write you a song. We can't wait for the next 'Persona' from these mag 7's, but until then we're having fun getting lost in this journey not destination map. 'Mikrokosmos' is classic BTS. Whilst the computer game closer 'Dionysus' sounds like it could be the epic introduction themes song of an awesome anime. But the real standout here is the on repeat, 'Euphoria' warmth of 'Jamais Vu'. A beautiful ballad of soaring feeling, singing along to "please give me a remedy" and all the love language to yourself later. But it gets much deeper and closer to the heart on 'HOME' (as they sing "For some reason filling this makes it empty faster/The more we're together the more I feel more alone/Half closed eyes, sleepless night/The place where you are"), for this club of billionaire boys who on their own 'Burn The Stage' movie from theatres to YouTube weren't afraid to admit that despite the biggest stages and Korean dollar bucks they weren't immune to the effects of depression and other mental health afflictions that come with this type of pressure on young people in the social media age of anxiety today. Especially those in the most glaring of spotlights from the paparazzi to the fans and the critics ready to write them off again and again. No matter how many times they prove them wrong, over and over again. It's a long and lonely road, hotel room to hotel room, where you're far from home and can't even remember the city. But still night after night these kids take to the stage and make music, maturing as young men and real positive role models for a world of fake love and false idols. But these genuine ones are offering light to a nation and its young men plagued by downing depression and rising suicide rates like they are the oppression of the north. Yet fighting all this with the same love that the world has been told again and again is all you need there is no one better right now to put that notion and where they're coming from on the map. With 'Persona' it's getting personal. Even with the power of South Korea girl group BlackPink biting at their heels, looks like these artists and music for healing are still a Big Hit. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Intro: Persona', 'Boy With Luv' Feat Halsey, 'Jamais Vu'.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

SONG FOR THE MOMENT: JOHN LEGEND-PREACH

5/5

Practice What He Preach.

Tears are being shed all the way through the Academy's auditorium. There's not a dry eye in the house at the Oscars this year as these two sing together. But we aren't talking about this year's close coupling of pop turned movie megastar Lady Gaga and 'A Star Is Born' star and director Bradley Cooper's 'Shallow', as "Ha...woah, oh, oh" soaring as that is. But a much deeper cut almost amazingly a half decade back in 2015. Before #OscarsSoWhite. Before Trump. But echoing pain from the past that still needs healing to this very day as you read this. Collaborating for then the third official time ('The Rain' came after) after the classic collection 'Be's' beautiful 'They Say' and the sheer power of 'The Believer' off that and 'The Dreamer' album, greatest conscious rapper of all time Common and the legacy making by the record like his last name himself, John Legend and the strongest choir in unison with G.O.O.D. Music brought 'Glory' to the Oscars and the most inspirational figure of peace Martin Luther King Jr's message from 'Selma'. Stars like the King himself David Oyelowo, Coretta's Carmen Ejogo and even Captain Kirk, Chris Pine were streaming with emotion that night.

Fast forward to this New Year and following the fun of bringing a classic Christmas record under our tree this year with old and his own standards like the Nat King Cole and Bublé best in 'A Legendary Christmas', John wakes up in the middle of the night with his dear wife Chrissy Teigen sleeping by his side. He hears an electricity buzzing out side in his reverie and walks out of his room and straight into the middle of the open night where he sees a solitary door aglow waiting for him to walk through. Which he does right into a Basketball gym that belongs to the high-school team the Birmingham Patriots. He sees a light, flashing from another doorway and before he can register what is happening as he wakes up kids emerge from it, running and screaming. "Every day I wake and/Everything is broken/Turnin' off my phone just to get out of bed/Get home every evening/And history's repeating/Turning off my phone 'cause it's hurting my chest". And so begins the start of the song and vivid visual that evokes the same struggle in John Legend's powerful 'Preach'. A song arguably as important, to this time relevant and even more incendiary in its incentive for a movement to march than his 'Glory' with Common. But with the man in the mirror reflecting the world call to action of the bridge that closes this millennial generation gap of, "And heaven knows I'm not helpless, yeah/But what can I do?/I can't see the use in me crying/If I'm not even tryna make the change I wanna see," Legend furthering more than his does more than just give us the song in a career of 'Ordinary People' relatable classics and 'All Of Me' wedding first dances with much more meaning. Leaving us with a collective conscious lump in our throats John shows us that it's about more than he, us or the music. Whilst at the same time showing us he is one of the most important and influential artists of our time and the closest thing we have this generation to the coming change of a Sam Cooke. So far his 'Practice What You Preach' crowdfunder has raised almost $19,000 of its 55 thou dollar target just weeks after this videos release. And he is also working on a documentary series with the family of Trayvon Martin. Another young life lost way too early and unbelievably now so long, but still so fresh ago that this song is dedicated to.

"I can't sit and hope/I Can't just sit and pray, that/I can find a love, when/All I see is pain
Falling to my knees/And though I do believe/I can't just preach, baby, preach/Whoa, oh/I can't just preach, baby, preach," John sings with everything he's got in the middle of this same night as the blue and red flashing lights of a police car cruises behind him, stalking his steps as like a pastor he lets out the full force of his ad-libs to show the fight in him pushing through the pain. It's an iconic visual and moment in a video as real as it harrowingly gets. As the next day this is the same cop car that in broad daylight pulls over two young black men who comply fully. From dropping the keys out the window to walking backwards towards the guns drawn with their hands up. Meanwhile nearby a young white man looking anxious and distraught is sitting in his own car undisturbed with a black bag riding passenger. John then sings from the pulpit in church at a memorial for the same young man. The same young man who was pulled over and then shot down by the police whilst all his peacefully protesting friend can possibly do is watch with a camera phone and record another injustice that the courts will end up swiping away with no application to the truth. Meanwhile whilst this happens and yet another grieving mother shaking a chain-link like prison bar fence is having her child taken away by border control. The young white boy in the other car takes his black bag to the same school that belongs to the Patriots. The bag does not contain gym gear. It contains an assault rifle. Emphasis on the word, "assault". And after the running and the screaming. All we are left with is motionless bodies. Some look like they are merely sitting down. Others asleep at lunch. And then of it wasn't clear as day then the ones lying all around the school as still as the life they once had will move you to your core. And as John dressed in Church regalia and a crowd in protest piercing us with their pupils as they look to us through the fourth wall is met by another of police in riot control gear to their peaceful stand behind God, all the tears are replaced with gas. As this protest is taken apart by billy clubs and violence. And the image of John's clergyman being cuffed and put in the place of the same cop car is all we're left with. A somber and sobering note of "no justice, no peace" that we all wish in reality we could make sense of as the guilty go free and the innocent trying to make change remain in chains. Hate cures nothing. Love is the only way. And as this all comes to a head the angel wings of the fallen kid from another police shooting looks to what we all should in something higher. Sitting uptop the very same cop car. "All I hear is voices/Everybody's talking/Nothing real is happening, 'cause nothing is new/Now when all is tragic/And I just feel sedated/Why do I feel numb? Is that all I can do?" After all. We can't just preach. TIM DAVID HARVEY.