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

Saturday, 31 August 2019

REVIEW: COMMON-LET LOVE

4/5

Let Love Rule.

'Love Is'...the name of quite possibly rapper/actor and now as of this year author Common's greatest song off his signature set and hip-hop classic, the beautiful 'Be' album. "How beautiful love can be/On the streets love is hard to see/It's a place I got to be/Loving you is loving me", Lonnie Rashid Lynn sings and raps on this evoking, epic track that soul samples Motown's greatest of all time, Marvin Gaye's 'God Is Love' and with all his heart reaches for a higher power. All fists held high before he started 'Finding Forvever' with timeless in tribute G.O.O.D. Music alongside the best of Kanye West. Love is also more than a verb. But it's this doing word that inspired Common to release his first memoir this year with the autobiographical and all the world reaching, 'Let Love Have The Last Word'. Which really is a read that should grace more than your Kindle's and coffee tables, but your bedside every night and following morning as you take his great word of wisdom as gospel. Now naming the same (makes sense for all this interconnected correlation after the 'Like Water For Chocolate' rapper Common's first book was named after his album 'One Day It Will All Make Sense'), hot off the Summer heels of owning all your Barnes and Noble in a different game like legendary Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writing Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes sribes, Common is scoring again with a musical accompaniment that might just be his best album since the 'Be' and 'Finding Forvever', back-to-back classics. Certainly Com's most consistent and cohesive. And it's not like 'The Dreamer...The Believer', 'Nobody's Smiling' and 'Black America Again' weren't rap greats from the God themselves. Even the 'Universal Mind Control' like the critically underrated, experimental, 'Electric Circus'. But 'Let Love' that literally had 'The Last Word' cut out of it before it was pressed is no soundtrack to his storybook. Even if it's moving themes and inspirations run through its influence and taught message. More it's the next chapter in the classic career of Common. Sense made for all the people. As the greatest, most mature hip-hop head and star of this generation like a rocking Lenny Kravitz acting too let's love rule.

Love is...Oscar winning like Gaga 'Star Is Born', Best Original Song 'Glory' with John Legend for 'Selma' from the man who kicked 'John Wick's' ass. And that's the boogeyman people. Pencil this is. And you thought the 'Chapter 3', 'Always Be My Maybe' meta classic cameo, 'Toy Story 4' Kaboom, 'Cyberpunk' CGI breathtaking moment, 'Bill and Ted' excellent adventure and bogus journey reunion filming and 'Matrix 4' announcement made this the year of Keanu. But Cassian has wrote another album and inked his own book in kind. And if he didn't take that knife out his aorta in the NYC Subway then he's still out there somewhere. 'Let Love' is allowed to begin with the 'Good Morning Love' atmospheric awakening with Samora Pinderhughes as Common raps, "Walking with the Lord, I see footprints/My mama always told me use my good sense/Common always looking for the good sense/Since we all got good in our essence/In the hood sense, we all good anyway/That's why you always hear another dollar, 'nother day/I see the day as a new beginning" and Samora sings along about washing away the pain and making it to the another day, God is love willing. Then on the Daniel Caesar assisted 'HER Love' Common finally gives us his trilogy concluding sequel love song to hip-hop. Rapping and referencing 'Moment Of Clarity', "When I'm in you, I feel home/We in the house of love, no lie/Appreciate you more as time goes by/When it's truly true, it don't die/I see you in L.A., I see you in N.Y/I see you in the A, I see you in the Chi/I hear you when JAY still make the song cry/Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like common sense." Showing he still loves her, no 'used to' about it in his best beat rap ballad to the heart since there was 'The Light'. 'Dwele's Interlude' let's 'The People' singer rip those vocal chords in this inspired intermission that is instrumental in its influence. But it's BJ The Chicago Kid appearing on two tracks like A$AP Rocky did back-to-back with the 'Lust For Life' of Lana Del Rey (her new 'NFR album goes up against C's 'L, L' this week, the most beautiful release since 'I, I' by Bon Iver), who sounds like the new Dwele. And finding 'Forever Your Love' and the 'Memories Of Home' has us hoping for a collaborative album from the two brothers from the city of wind.

Love is...being stronger than 'Hercules' as Mr. Keys on the keys Swizz Beats gives Common a new banger with his big beat muscling up in the studio weight room as Com gets into a corner store tussle, botching an armed robbery as the video cameras record it all for one of his best music videos in years and the same week an attack of a 50ft Lana Del Rey 'Doin' Time' comes through and Snoop crushes the buildings in L.A. But Chicago's finest isn't die bringing change to the Windy City like Barack. The Obama of rap still has out vote like our President is still black. On the halftime of 'Fifth Story' the fifth track sees Leikeli47 turn spoken word into rapping, into singing for a great hook bridged to a chorus we can all sing along too. Then Common shows 'Crib Love' with the legendary A-Track for the def jam 'Leaders' as Common shows just how much of a hip-hop head he is as this leader of the old and new school like still asking if he can borrow a dollar with Common Sense rides this classic rap beat like a parallel park. "I'm from the City of Wind, that's another win/Take the L, green line, red line, get your paper, headlines/Tryna feed your fam, get fed time/It happens, trappin' and rappin' got us backed in/To a corner, it's normal for black men/The Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley reenactment/Savion with a beard, yo, I'm tapped in." Did you have your seatbelt on? Common continues this streak tough streak going it alone on, the kinetic in title and track, 'My Fancy Free Future Love'. But real heart like family and the late, great pops raps are shown on the Jill Scott beautifully assisted seven minute seal of a father's love to his daughter, birth to graduation on 'Show Me That You Love'. "Embedded in emotion, I'm open, hopin' whoever's/Calling's all in for the low-key, it was O-M-O-Y-E/I read my daughter's name slowly, I'm asleep, sleepin'", Lynn raps in testament tribute as Scott signs "show me that you love/show me that you care". In Common's most personal song and writing since his chapter about his baby girl the "daughter who is now (his) teacher" in the 'Let Love Have The Last Word' memoir. But the last word in this neo rapper who knows Keanu, a week after the release of the neo soul of legend Raphael Saadiq's 'Jimmy Lee' and another hip hop legend and rap icon in Missy Elliott's 'Iconology' EP, belongs to brining back Marvin Gaye's 'God Is Love' with soul man of the moment and a young man who belongs in the age of Motown in Mr. Leon Bridges. And fittingly in an album where love is in the title of almost every track the words, ""Love is love" became the mantra/The montage for creation, we need it in relation/When two ships pass, one love is the flotation/It's what God used to put the planet in rotation/It's what the culture used to build a hip hop nation/From the basement to the attic, where cookie show for magic/It's what we told the world when we said our lives matter/Turn the student to a master, hustler to a pastor/That's why I'm a rapper, it's all that I'm after." As taking us to the river Bridges sings out, "cause you are the light". And THAT is the last word. Because love is...this. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'HER Love', 'Show Me That You Love', 'God Is Love'.

Friday, 30 August 2019

REVIEW: LANA DEL REY-NORMAN F###### ROCKWELL

4/5

Lizzy F###### Grant.

Attack of the 50ft Lana Del Rey. 'Doin' Time', sandal stomping around the City of Angels, Los Angeles. Singing about the LBC, "ever since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings" for her brand new music video of the year. New York's been lost, but from a 'Brooklyn Baby' who sings along to Lou Reed, to a 'Venice Bitch', the former IT girl who was 'Born To Die' like Springsteen was 'Born To Run' is really it now too like Jessica Chastain. The self dubbed, "gangster Nancy Sinatra" is still so bang, bang, "callin' kiss, kiss," 'Young and Beautiful', a year away from us all being in the roaring twenties once more (how crazy is that?) like 'The Great Gatsby' all over again F Scott, Luhrmann or DiCaprio. But these boots were made for walking all over you if you think that's all that matters to the power of a woman in this Haim, 'Summer Girl', Maggie Rogers, King Princess and Billie Eilish (who this queen Stan's) time to be alive against all the bad guys...duh! 'Looking For America' and a way out of all the ultraviolence the 'Love' singers 'Honeymoon' is over, but there is still a 'Lust For Life', freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of worship and freedom of speech on the new album named after the American author and artist, 'Norman F###### Rockwell'. Get around the table for turkey like it was Thanksgiving already. Some 'NFR' for your NPR from LDR. Tune in from your car radio as the 50 feet high and rising Del Rey climbs out the cinema screen of a vintage drive-in movie theatre that Brad Pitt's character from Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood' probably lives behind with his dog. As she can shakes the 'Happy Days' out of a classic American muscle car of a man doing the tragic romance dirty on her life and pint size in comparison blonde bob, Lizzy Grant like alter-ego for something so B-movie brilliant from the cinematic singer. Aaaay! Sit on that! In-between making 'Season Of The Witch' songs for Guillermo del Toro's 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark' movies like when her big eyes went 'Once Upon A Dream' hauntingly with that voice for 'Maleficent' for this 50's feel. Now playing music video games-releasing two back to back like recording two knockout songs together for 'Lust' with A$AP Rocky and three in the same week-she's on a yacht with a model friend, hand held out reaching for you to come onboard too.

Cue 'The Simpsons' Ralph Wiggum jumping through the living room window meme. "Oh, take this veil from off my eyes/My burning sun will, some day, rise/So, what am I gonna be doin' for a while?/Said, I'm gonna play with myself/Show them, now, we've come off the shelf", she smoke sings behind the mirrors, 'Doin' Time' on her huge new hot hit across the California sun. All as she checks her reflection in a high-rise window, cools off by drinking from a water tower like it was just another cup of coffee, whilst fanning herself with a palm tree and kicks sand at a moviegoing watching crowd at her truly getting 'High By The Beach' at the drive in. The Fonz like jukebox of the surfing muscle beach life of 'F### It I Love You' also segues into the shipping container docks look of 'The Greatest' for the dual music video release just last week too. The longest clip since her almost ten minute home video of the Titanic track 'Venice Bitch' off of Santa Monica. "I like to see everything in neon/Drink  lime green, stay up 'til dawn", she sings on the expletive single of her expletive album, inviting us to, "Dream a little dream of me/Make  me into something sweet", and f### it we love her too. We're there. As on 'Venice Bitch' she tells us, "you're beautiful and I'm insane/we're American made." With the perfect hook and "Fear fun, fear love/Fresh out of fucks, forever/Tryin' to be stronger for you/Ice cream, ice queen/I dream in jeans and leather/Life's dream I'm sweet for you" opening. The beautifully bleak 'Born To Die' and 'Ultraviolence' pairing was this Lake Placid born song sirens New York 1980's, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring like downtown art scene. Whilst her Hollywood 'Honeymoon' and smily happy people 'Lust For Life' young and in 'Love' albums birth became a new 'West Coast', Parliaments on fire, hands up direction which is furthered by 'Norman Rockwell's' 'California' cool like the classic track of that same state of play name. F###### cool. So after the two, coast to coast, Knicks to Lakers (or these days Nets to Clippers) like halves to her career, her fifth album (or sixth or seventh if you count the truest Lizzy Grant and the perfect 'Paradise' EP, 'Born To Die' re-release) shows that this is no L.A. phase but the next stage of her screenplay certified, cinematic career for her movie like music canvas of poetic artistry. Even if she, "moved to California, but it's just a state of mind". We feel right there with her atmospheric sound in kind.

Dylan's legend permeates through New York's Greenwich Village like the coffee shops Lana probably used to write in as Del Rey now has a dominant and definitive, dynamic discography as she chases her own great American songbook for a social media generation in need of swiping towards something real. This is her freewheelin' one. She says it herself on 'The Next Great American Record'. Hotel California, playing The Eagles in Malibu as she sings, "And we were so obsessed with writin' the next best American record/That we give all we had 'til the time we got to bed/'Cause we knew we could." And she may just have harmonizing, "My baby used to dance underneath my architecture/To the Houses of the Holy, smokin' on them cigarettes". Or on the tribute title track, "Goddamn, man-child/You f##### me so good that I almost said, "I love you"/You're fun and you’re wild/But you don't know the half of the s### that you put me through". Lana hasn't got anytime for that s### anymore. Times up and this is the new Dua Lips generations national anthem. F### Norman F###### Rockwell if he thinks his arts more important than his muse. Del Rey will be no one's femme fatale, but her own Hollywood throwback scarlet starlet. "You took my sadness out of context/At the Mariners Apartment Complex/I ain't no candle in the wind/I'm the board, the lightning, the thunder/Kind of girl who's gonna make you wonder/Who you are and who you've been" she stands on her own two like the 'Mariners Apartment Complex' in the same song, before this 'Cinnamon Girl' gives us another cool song that will make the radio more friendly to her signature song that greats like Neil Young would be proud of as 'Quiet Place' couples share headphones and slow dance together in the middle of the night. It gets deep and dark however on 'How To Disappear' as Lana laments, "John met me down on the boulevard/Cried on his shoulder 'cause life is hard/The waves came in over my head/What you been up to, my baby?" But then with wine flowing with Bacardi and Crosby, Stills and Nash playing Lana's poetry (that isn't bad like a former lovers on 'NFR') is warm inside as she falls in love with a 'Bartender' on the roadside E Street Springsteen, singing under the Western Stars, "I bought me a truck in the middle of the night/60 MPH on PCH drive/Here to Long Beach to Newport by your side/As they don't yet know where I reside/60 miles from the last place I hide/With my bar-t-t-tender, hold me all night." Spreading her sonic wings on 'Happiness Is A Butterfly' everything looks all good until 'Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman...But I Have It'. The classic closer at her most, "I've been tearing around in my fucking nightgown
24/7 Sylvia Plath/Writing in blood on the walls/'Cause the ink in my pen don't work in my notepad" personal. Still there is hope with the trademark tone of Del Rey's sound. A week after Taylor Swift's pure pop 'Lover' classic, you'll love this more punctuated pop even more. We may know what to expect these days with the dark paradise of a Lana Del Rey record as it fever dream plays into our stream of consciousness, but that's not just a good thing. It's a beautiful one my princes and king princesses. Melancholy beauty, with 'Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass', Lana is about to book of rhymes independently release some pure poetry this year like she previewed in her iconic cover shoot for Vogue Italia. But as of right now there's nothing more poetic than 'Norman Fucking Rockwell'. Pardon my French. And if that wasn't enough she's already writing her next album, remaining 'White Hot Forever'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Venice Bitch', 'The Next Great American Record', 'Doin' Time'.

Monday, 26 August 2019

REVIEW: MISSY ELLIOTT-ICONOLOGY

4/5

Queen M.E.

Get UR freak back on. Because Misdemeanor is back and she said so. Now get your back off the wall, get your back off the wall like losing control with Ciara and Fatman Scoop. Because it's been almost 15 years since Missy Elliott's last album as she stirred the pot like the hairs on the chinny chin, chin of James Harden for 'The Cookbook'. But yet she still runs this as her music still makes you lose control. And after soundtrack bites ('Ching-a-Ling', 'Shake Ya Pom Pom') and other tiding us over tracks ('Best, Best', 'Triple Threat'). Not to mention starting a Superbowl 'Pep Rally' being brought out for Katy Perry's halftime show with some Baby Sharks. The hiatus is over like featuring on woman of the moment Lizzo tracks. Check the DNA test. And sure it's only an E.P. of five songs, one an acapella version (but best believe no one comes close to Missy who rides beats this good with her raps, when it underrated as such comes to singing over nothing so beautifully for her twin skill set), but when it comes to a legend who used to be expected to release an amazing event album each fall like Jay-Z we'll take what we can. This is not a test! Wake up! Elliott is home. The late, great Aaliyah (we miss you Baby Girl...this game would be...is nothing without you), titanic powerhouse producer Timbaland and R&B legend who dances before Usher and Ne*Yo, Ginuwine Superfriend has more classics then your favourite rappers favourite rapper. 'Supa Dupa Fly', 'Da Real World', 'Miss E...So Addictive', 'Under Construction' and 'This Is Not A Test'. And that's just the albums. What do you know about, 'Get Ur Freak On', '4 My People' (and the banging Basement Jaxx remix), 'Work It', 'Gossip Folks', both the Ludacris and Hova versions of 'One Minute Man', 'Pass That Dutch', or 'Lose Control'. Or how about 'Beep Me 911', 'The Rain', 'All N My Grill' and 'Sock It 2 Me'. Who's setting off all those fireworks. Because forget who's the D.J. Missy 'Misdemeanour' Elliott has more bangers than Guy Fawkes. 'She's A Bitch' you say? Yeah, don't get so 'Teary Eyed'. And dry them because when it comes to Nicki or Cardi B. With all due respect we say Missy. And now the icon is here to stay with 'Iconology'.

"Walk up in this thing (Thing), I be on my game (Game)/If it's competition ('Tition), I put them to shame (Shame)/Different kind of chick (Chick), we are not the same (The same)/I raised all these babies, call me Katherine Jackson ('Son)/Please don't steal my style (Style), I might cuss you out (Wow)/What you doin' now (Doin'), I did for a while (While)/Missy, Missy, Missy, go 'head, let it slap (Slap)/I'ma snatch they wigs 'til I see that scalp (Scalp)/Booty, booty clap (Clap), flyin' across the map (Map)/Lambo on the block (Block), lookin' like a snack/I'll show you how I do it (Do it), show you how it's done (Done)/Don't look for another Missy 'cause there'll be no 'nother one." BOOM! Now watch her 'Throw It Back' in highlighting pink for a Harajuku neon video that's right there with the iconography of her classic 'Get Ur Freak On', 'Work It', 'Lose Control' and all the countless classic clips for an artist who redefined the music video like MTV. Or like bringing all grown up child star Alyson Stoner out to the stage of the VMA's as she becomes the iconic flag planting astronaut for Music Television. Sofa popcorn making it a must to tune into Bass before YouTube and this Spotify just for the sound social generation. All as dynamite dancers to her trademark type skip on her jump rope hair as she pops gum, making noise in the same week as Taylor Swift talks about another 'Lover' for pure pop and fellow genius giants of her genre Raphael Saadiq and Jeezy release new albums to acclaim. And throwing it back like Fabolous in an Elden Campbell Lakers jersey way before white American and the watching world thought it was about sharing pictures on Instagram from last week by Thursday, if Missy hasn't already bodied your favourite rapper again-let alone his-with this old school, beat down beat displaying just how heavy she is with this hip hop s### then, "Missy make up her own rules/Not many can do what I do/So many VMA's that I could live on the moon/Man, I jump and you leap/Better wake up if you sleep/I did records for Tweet before y'all could even tweet" (BOOM X2). Then the Misdemeanor just finished you off like misogynistic rappers who thought they were going to get a happy ending. Nope! The script and song sheet has been flipped by the one whose back to change the game again. Now what did we tell you about those VMA's?

Need to 'Cool Off'? Here's a towel. Because Missy isn't stopping on the second track. Mic in hand even your best hype man couldn't keep up like a one minute man. Because THIS is another Missy Elliott exclusive. "Play this again, I'm finna win/Finna go off, finna go in/Me and my friends, yeah, we on ten/And the song never ends, no, the song never ends/Body shaped like a fisheye lens/I'll make it drop, yeah, I'll make it bend/Cool off 'til I feel the wind/Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten/Way too high to get over me/Way too low to get under my skin/All the DJ's gon' hit that spin/I'ma play this again and again and again (Stop)" as she goes for four fours like Jay-Z round and round like a ceiling fan over another big beat. Still need that towel? "Do it, do it, do it do it" like Ben Stiller going 'Starsky and Hutch' undercover. The Timbaland reunion produced 'DripDemeanour' featuring Sum1 sounds as fresh and nostalgic as something the Queen M.E. would have done with the Queen Aaliyah back in the day. Whilst Timbo the King comes back on the relationship woes of 'Why I Still Love You' and it's awesome acapella version in the vein of 'It's Real', or 'Take Away' featuring Ginuwine The Bachelor. Featuring amen lyrics like, "Just don't waste up my time/Mm, I go way out my way/Making you satisfied/But it don't matter, boy, how hard I try/You don't care how I be feelin' inside/You gon' make me tell you, "Kiss my ass goodbye"". Whilst showing that Mister Mosley on the beats, riding the snare like a 'Pony' classic can produce just as beautiful ballad as Missy can make it, hitting all the high, right notes. And if this is just a taste test of things to come then we can't wait to order her first full course since 'The Cookbook'. Eat up, because it's going to go down a treat. Now haven't you missed Missy? Let's see what's next from the icons chronology. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Throw It Back', 'Cool Off', 'DripDemeanour'.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

REVIEW: TAYLOR SWIFT-LOVER

4/5

Hey Lover.

Swiftly moving on from the beef all about it, 90's hip-hop like cover of her last war declaring album that hit that tabloids, Tay, Tay, Taylor Swift gets her '1989' fresh reputation back as the king princess of pure pop for the Summer bubblegum popping crowd this season. Now look what you made her do. Her last album was an underrated sleeper and grower. That like it's subject matter needs to be addressed. 'Reputation' was as brave and bold as they come. But save her 'Red' country strong roots, Taylor's latest, brand new album just in time for the last 500 days of Summer is the 'Lover' of the light Swift we know best. Haters would have said it was like a photoshopped copy if this new album came after one that inspired an alt-rocker who shall not be named to cover it in its entirety with his own independent album like 1990. And still look what they did to her 'Reputation'. But this new breath of fresh air like a new Summer love is the perfect romance to keep die hard fans happy and maybe even silence a few critics who need to calm down (they're being too loud). Powered by the pride of this LGBT anthem that rocks like Beyoncé in 'The Lion King', the candy coloured cameo filled video brings everyone from the talk show of Ellen to the drag race of RuPaul, as Ryan Reynolds paints all this every colour canvas food fight that even reunites the former beef burger drama of Taylor and Katy Perry by the patty party. The two pop queen's are like peas and carrots...or burgers and fries again. With Swift's first album in a pair of years I guess they are no longer in the 'Endgame' anymore like collaborating with Ed Sheeran. After a war that seemed to last like infinity it's over in a SNAP...dust!

"Sunshine on the street at the parade/But you would rather be in the dark age/Just makin' that sign must've taken all night/You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate/'Cause shade never made anybody less gay." 'Calm Down' isn't just a Swift classic, song of the summer, or year. It's also subtley so-until you see the beautiful video-one of the most important songs of her whole career and our generations time right about now. And if you thought that was hot like Will Smith looking through a telescope, then wait until you hear the title track and peer into the snow globe of this festive feeling and game changing video. In your 'Wildest Dreams', 'Lover' sounds somewhere between the love of her new beautiful ballads and the old country strings from her early Nashville days that will never go out of style for the biggest country to pop star since Shania Twain felt like a woman and impressed us all. 'Lover' this album is full of big numbers like the millions of albums she'll sell with this before the platinum plaques turn into a billion served for someone as American as the golden arches of McDonald's. But this sugars too sweet to rock your teeth. From the highly anticipated 'Soon You'll Get Better' duet with country legends The Dixie Chicks (well worth the wait), to a scooter assist from London's 'Luther' himself Idris Elba (like the time he challenged rapper Macklemore to a 'Dance Off'). As Taylor sees the Big Smoke of Estelle's 'American Boy' with another who shall not be named and raises her a 'London Boy' and an itinerary that has been having Brits scratching their heads on Twitter. I hope she's reloaded her Oyster Card for this Underground route and does it pass through Bond Street hey 'Dris? And how about the instantly recognisable when it's dropped at the party banger 'ME!' (sorry for shouting) with Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco!? But for all the big guns from the 'Bad Blood' singer who brought them all out like Kendrick Lamar for the remix, it's the smouldering season feeling 'Cruel Summer' that is is so good Ellen Degeneres got it tattooed on her arm. Swifties may just do so too.

Ink this Idris! This is one of Taylor's best made albums yet. Just like from Jake to Tom, Taylor's trademark brutal breakup records. The indifferent opening 'I Forgot That You Existed' and it's "Lived in the shade you were throwing/'Til all of my sunshine was gone, gone, gone/And I couldn't get away from ya
In my feelings more than Drake, so yeah/Your name on my lips, tongue-tied/Free rent, living in my mind" before she gets to a peace over something she thought initially would kill her (we've all been there) are actually inspired. It's not love. It's not hate. It's something in-between. Whilst the 'If I Was A Boy' idea of 'The Man' lets her get her concept on like the Cupid bullseye of 'The Archer' gets her Hawkeye on. More killer than the 'Wonderful, Wonderful' Brandon Flowers song of the same name she scathes, I"would be complex, I would be cool/They'd say I played the field before I found someone to commit to/Amen that would be okay for me to do/Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you." Boom...feel the burn man. Amen! The aware 'I Think He Knows', the cranes run around like a Daisy chain of 'Paper Rings' and the regret laced destination no longer known of 'Cornelia Street' are far from filler, more formidable. But it's the standout should be single, 'Miss American And The Heartbreak Prince' that you'll really love. It even sounds like the perfect U.S. band name Tom Petty. Yet free fallin' through the rest of this set nothing goes quite as deeper as the 'Death By A Thousand Cuts' as Swift strains over the strings as she sings for a broken heart inspired by Netflix's 'Someone Great', "I see you everywhere, the only thing we share/Is this small town/You said it was a great love, one for the ages/But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages"? Scorned lovers will love this albums 'False God', whilst those in need to get by will be glad to know 'Its Nice To Have A Friend' and it's steel drum Jamaican meets Japanese sound. Still it's the atmospheric 'Afterglow' and the dawn of 'Daylight' closing this 18 track of teenage love in an adulting world that take 'Lover' to the heart and electric soul of matters. For this neon sonic scoring summertime gladness music that's going to rock no doubt from Orange County, California to those Harajuku lovers in Tokyo, Japan. This is Taylor's time now bitches! And what a throne in this game to take the crown back. Queen Beyoncé running the world like the rest of the girls. The identity of Sia's sound. The 'Mothers Daughter' of the unstoppable Ashley O, Miley Cyrus no matter your black mirror. A star reborn in the Oscar winning Lady Gaga and of course Ariana Grande. And lets not forget new queen's like Maggie Rogers and King Princess. Or 'Norman F###### Rockwell', Lana Del Rey. And now Taylor remade. Thank you, next. What a time to be alive when it comes to the power of women in pop. Let alone the rest of the entertainment and wide world. Haters you've got to love this, like you'll love 'Lover'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Calm Down', 'Lover', 'Miss Americana And The Heartbreak Prince'.

REVIEW: RAPHAEL SAADIQ-JIMMY LEE

4/5

Still Ray, Ray.

London calling. From supergroups Tony! Toni! Toné! to Lucy Pearl, 'The Way I See It' listening to neo soul icon in this modern mainstream, Raphael Saadiq sparks nostalgia of catching a coach down to the Big Smoke in my twenties and just letting his playlist play on my shuffling iPod. As miles of motorway ended up joining big red double decker buses and black Hackney taxi cabs and Big Ben chimed in time. And best believe on what might be the last time visiting in London town for awhile this week as I say goodbye to some friends before teaching in Tokyo, I'll be playing it one more time, for old times sake. It may be because seemingly from about 2008 to 2011 he was almost all I listened to. Or because many of my gigging trips down to England's capital saw me seeing the guy himself in concert during this prolific primetime. Where I ended up meeting some of my dearest friends at his solo concerts and one supporting Lenny Kravitz on his 'Black and White America' tour (hey Olisa and Jazarah!). To even the man himself as Ray Ray told me "I saw you getting down in the front." Which if you had seen it (there's actually a YouTube video for the record...it's not pretty...trust me. I ain't showing you) roughly translates to something akin to someone nodding along in partially embarrassed hidden acknowledgement as the dad dancing is broken out at a family wedding. Hey, what can I say? With music like Ray's how can you not move your feet? From 2008's absolute game changing (actually...not in the clichéd way) classic, 'iTunes Album Of The Year' (remember iTunes? When it was the "new" thing?) 'The Way I See It' that took it back to the magic of Motown, all original, no cover. To the 'Stone Rollin'' 2011 release that went back even further to 50's rock and roll for your milkshake and drive-in movies. And after that unstoppable run of new classics based on a timeless time that let the good times roll, Raphael is back almost a decade later. Eight years removed with his most personal project yet that takes him back to the 'Instant Vintage' days of 'Ray Ray', showing us he's 'Still Ray' like over Dre piano, "coming home to you".

'Jimmy Lee' named after Saadiq's late brother is the singers darkest, but most profound album yet, marking yet another new chapter in his classic catalogue. Jimmy Lee died of a heroin overdose after contracting HIV and Raphael Saadiq confronts this trauma of losing his elder by writing about it and making the music we hear today. But looking back at his own past he doesn't just stop there as he also takes on Trump's America and the incarcerating problems that are scarring the face of his country aswell as his own troubles. On the anthemic 'Rikers Island' and the redux reprise, inspired interlude featuring the poetic wisdom words to the truth of Daniel J. Watts that follows, the soul man whose always had heart for real issues (see the 'Big Easy' New Orleans number that came out right after Katrina and subtlety behind the sweet sound plays profound) warns we could even be living in "Rikers Island" in our own mind as he sings, "the boy is shaking inside, he says it's something he didn't do/he's afraid to take that low ride, down Rikers Island avenue." And if you haven't seen this type of profiling pain in Netflix's groundbreaking 'When They See Us' serial, then "some of them are there for no reason/some will be there 'till they die" you'll see it now. On the sobering standout 'The World Is Drunk', over a fresh best and pure piano ivory, Raphael takes it to the gutter like a broken bottle as he vividly emotes, "eyes are black, black and cold" and "everyone around him sees the clown and they're laughing at him." All punch drunk for a hungover planet of aggravated anxiety that needs some soulful medication from this headache or at least a helping hand on the shoulder that says, "I feel your burden brother." But as he sings "I wake up a quarter man" on the Japanese flute beat of 'Kings Fall' (something we all learn from LeBron and the Lakers), there's still a sense of hope that runs through these songs struggles right through the 'Glory Of The Veins' featuring Ernest Turner that strains through the life of a dope fiend. The battle of addiction and even the temptation Saadiq faced, "I lost a brother to AIDS/But still he laughed everyday", Raphael mourns but with beauty for a life celebrated, even through the pain. Because through all the depths of darkness and spirals of substance abuse and addiction, Saadiq shows real soulful substance. Believing in a higher power than a narcotic. And that belief and power 'Belongs to God' on the Church recital with Reverend E. Baker's sermon service, that as a brief inspired interlude like 'Dottie's' before the glory goes back to 'Veins' serves as something that sounds somewhere between the Motown soul of 'The Way I See It' and the 'Stone Rollin'' rock of this rolling stone who deserves the magazine cover for this.

"GOD can I make it? GOD can we make it? GOD help me make it!" he pleads on the atmospheric opening of 'Sinners Prayer' which two hands together starts the proceedings this evening as we kneel by our bed before we lay down to sleep. There's no voice in this industry as distinct or definitive than Charlie Ray's and here as he prays through the pain we can still see the light for a man and his belief that refuses to be shadowed by shame or the sickness of the world. This unwavering essence keeps going over the foot tapping 'So Ready' like "I never come home at night/But still you stay by my side." Or the Rob Bacon assisted 'Something Keeps Calling' over guitars and the zoned out 'I'm Feeling Love'. Sizzling over speakers as he harmonises, "I've been feeling more than blessed/even though the hardest times" on this personal war on drugs and what they've took with God still on his side, two pairs of footprints in the sand. You can feel it on 'My Walk' if you take it with him too as he tells it like it is, "I've been moving keys and singing all day." Ying and Yang traversing through the good and bad like "if she takes me back I probably wouldn't stay," or "I've been taking backstreets just to feed my soul". And staring through the 'Rearview' like 'to pimp a caterpiller', or butterfly on the formidable finale, Pulitzer prize winning rapper Kendrick Lamar asks, "how can I change the world, but not change myself," as Saadiq fades out singing in a different Tony, Toni tone, "your life is in the rearview". The modern times legend with the black circle around his left eye let's us see with TLC like 'Different Times' a warning we really should heed as he and this musical journey disappears over the horizon as the sun falls on his latest set. But on 'Lee', Raphael doesn't leave his past behind, more moves on with it as he keeps marching on to a neo sound of an old soul he helped coin like a new stereo currency. Showing he can still afford more after giving us so much already. This is the type of raw but revelatory record all hearts can relate to. Looking up to the heavens as we feel it in our souls. For Jimmy. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'Sinners Prayer', 'The World Is Drunk', 'Kings Fall'.

Monday, 19 August 2019

REVIEW: BON IVER-i, i

5/5

From Justin, Forever More.

Once upon a time in Hollywood, legendary actor of our generation Brad Pitt was dumped...wait! What? And what did he do to get over this divorce from actress Angelina Jolie? Well he did what we all do...no not sculpting, I don't have the Swayze hands in 'Ghost' for that Demi. He threw on a classic break-up record. The groundbreaking 'Skinny Love' classic from Bon Iver, 'For Emma, Forever Ago' to be playlist matching exact. And upon hearing the 'Fight Club' and 'Se7en' thesp did this like a 'Tree Of Life' what was Wisconsin's own Justin Vernon's response from his log cabin the middle of a wilderness nowhere? "Cool!" Cool. Once upon a time in Paris Justin kidnapped (well not exactly...don't alert the authorities) a young woman for the French L'Blogtheque take away show. A classic Parisian syndicate that make inventive live show music video alternatives for stars like Maggie Rogers, Lianne La Havas and so much more of our best and brightest. Bon Iver being the most "bon" of all. From walking around the romantic streets singing 'For Emma', to performing in the middle of an abandoned building (just think of the acoustics) to a woman who looked like she was wearing a bowl on her head as a blindfold. But this time with a whole choir behind him singing the haunting 'Heavenly Father" off a hym sheet to someone I sure no longer felt kidnapped when she realized who it was (the anti-celebrity always introduces himself so politely, "I'm Justin" like they didn't already know), the notes he hit taking him higher sounded like Justin was possessed by the Holy Ghost...again those acoustics. Once upon a time in the Beatle town of Liverpool this writer even lost his virginity to some Bon Iver (the last song (yeah that's how long it took me) 'Beth/Rest' off the self titled second sophomore album from Bon Iver if you want the gory details), so what more do you need to know?

Lost in the 'Woods' of his 'Blood Bank' EP like the best 'Atlanta' episode from Brian Tyree Henry, Bon Iver or Justin Vernon blew up out of nowhere. So much so he was even sampled and then started working with Kanye West for 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', bringing the best out of Mr. West. But these days due to some Trumped up affiliations, Justin just can't kick it with Yeezus anymore even though he's still likes him as a friend (we feel you). But we'd love to hear them make great music again one day. Vernon has even made knockout music for 'Creed' soundtracks too. But seconds out nothing quite hits like his own personal projects. 'For Emma, Forever Ago' is more than a hipster classic for this generation from Urban Outfitters to Coachella shows. It's quite simply one of the most beautiful albums of all-time. Like it's soaring self-titled successor and 2016's last release until now '22 Million', which really pushed the musical envelope with what you can do with production and how you even name songs Prince or Maxwell "eye" amlookingatyou. And now with Justin saying he's "winding down" I, I just can't believe it with the release of Iver's 'i, i', which furthers his art gallery like discography of definitive sounds for his musical masterpieces. 'We' can't even with his outstanding opener that soundtrack sounds like something out of a Western folklore for the folk hero. "The ordinary something neither of us holds/No folding gold for protecting from the lords/Who's that really we leave out in the cold?/But they're depending, so you just keep giving pause," he sings on an album analysing his anxiety as he stresses through some stanzas. Healing the harm in only a way music can.

'Hey Ma' isn't a Cam'ron cover for the man who has worked with more rappers than Dame Dash. Instead it's the inspired standout single from Iver following the beautiful 'Holyfields'. This atmospheric cut breathes new life into his overcoming struggles as Justin sings, "I waited outside/I was tokin' on dope/I hoped it all won't go in a minute/With the past that you know/I wanted all that mind, sugar/I want it all mine/I had a heavy mind, sugar/It took it, it was right." If you can't feel how he is then it's time to get your mind in this music. Because with a mainstream starving for more art in the artist (save breakthrough releases from the likes of Maggie Rogers, King Princess and the 'Summer Girl' sax of Haim) this is the closest down to earth hero of headphones this side of the 'Western Stars' of Springsteen. The opening piano of 'U (Man Like)' sounds like something from the closing credits of a Japanese anime (don't act like that's a bad thing), whilst the song itself opens up to so much more. But the real heavy hitter on 'i, i' is 'Naeem'. Nothing is more epic or right there with his 're:Stacks', 'Creature Fear', '22 Million' by the numbers, or Perth, Minnesota, Hinnom, Calgary, Lisbon place of interest best for the Wisconsin native than this. "All along me I can hear you/I'd occupy that/Can't sit back long while you're forming that/Oh, my mind, our kids got bigger/But I'm climbing down the bastion now/You take me out to pasture now" he sings for the heavens before the distorted, dynamic 'Jelmore', beautiful 'Faith' you will all believe in,  moving acoustic ode to 'Marion' (sorry Emma), stunning 'Salem' (simply sensational) and the strings of 'Sh'Diah' are your lot. All making and packing this set up as a classic right before the complete closer 'RABi' stuns the senses even more so. As Vernon teaches with lasting lyrics "Well it's all just scared of dying/But isn't this a beach?/And if I know one thing at all/Is I cannot just be a peach/Oh, you come in all woke now/So, please enjoy the feast/We are weightless like a wayless beast/So what is it we don't teach?" Bon Iver albums like something you love so beautiful are always here for a moment as we absorb all it surrounds us with, before it leaves us just as quickly with just a beautiful memory of just how good it can be. And if this really is it for Justin Vernon can we have just one more moment to savour? Because nothing sounds like this. And nothing will come quite as close. I, I believe that this is it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Playlist Picks: 'We', 'Hey Ma', 'Naeem'.

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 (this year's annual calender will bring life to your bedroom walls) 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'.