Great Music Worth Downloading by Tiffany Haney
Some of the best music doesn’t get played on the radio anymore. Many of the most gifted artists don’t make appearances on award shows. I remember songs from the 70s, 80s and even 90s that were carefully arranged with powerful lyrics and vocals to match. The singers were celebrated by the young and old. And though the face of mainstream music has certainly changed over the years, great albums and talented singers still exist. Here are some of my favorite picks:
I discovered Lianne LaHavas thanks to a stop at a Starbucks featuring a free download of her song “Don’t Wake Me Up.” Her voice was so light, lilting and soulful. Upon listening to her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? (released in 2012), I was transported to a place that is at times ethereal, playful and raw. And not only is she a gifted vocalist, but a songwriter and guitarist. She deftly serenades of love, anger and loss with a tapestry of soul and folk. LaHavas is a Londoner with Greek-Jamaican ancestry who credits Erykah Badu and Nina Simone as some of her musical influences. Another stand-out track is LaHavas’ simmering “Forget,” a response to a past love’s request. On her deluxe version of her release she gives a beautiful cover of Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me.”
“Alone Together,” featuring Marsha Ambrosius, has been blowing up the airwaves across R & B radio stations. What most people may not know is that the high-pitched partner on the sumptuous track is Daley, a red-haired artist who is poised to become England’s answer to Robin Thicke. His EP, named after his debut song, is a mix of old and new school soul and pop. “Blame the World” is one of my favorite tracks and showcases Daley’s ability to easily infuse passion into each word and maintain every note with easy control. Daley’s high register solidified an on-point acoustic version of Amy Winehouse’s “Love Is a Losing Game” as a fitting tribute to the late songstress.
If classic jazz and R&B took a dip in a bowl full of warm grits and butter, you would find the music of José James. His matured voice belies his 35 years. James doesn’t rush through lyrics, marinating in each track and allowing you to feel the depth of his words. His last CD No Beginning No End (released early 2013) feels like a romantic stroll on a warm southern evening with a new love. Though this is the Minneapolis native’s 4th album, he has a particular connection to this last one: “I feel like this is my first album as an artist,” he says. “[There was] nothing but myself and my relationship and history with my music.” Check out tracks “Trouble” and “Vanguard.”
Emily King is fast becoming one of my favorite independent artists in the music industry. Her first release, East Side Story (2007), was met with moderate success but landed a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album of the Year. After parting ways with her label, King came back with an independent EP entitled Seven that was recorded in her home in 2011. It was definitely a more mature and thoughtful work, exposing more of a folk flavor mingled with jazzy soul. Her delicate voice and insightful lyrics leave you eager to hear the next song. Last year she released a track entitled “Ordinary Heart” and accompanies José James’ last release on “Heaven on the Ground” and the acoustic version of “Come to My Door.” King joined Emeli Sande on her 2012 UK tour.
This is just a taste of the amazing artists still blessing our ears with unforgettable melodies. So there is hope for music lovers around the world. Happy downloading!