I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to their weeks. It’s chilly here in Chicago but the sun is shining and I had some Afrobeta remixes blasting me into the office this morning so I’m in a great mood. Most of the albums coming out this week seem to be ushering us into a flowery spring.
Brandi Carlile — Live at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony (Epic)
It can’t just be me: Please tell me that when you first heard Brandi Carlile was gay you basically high fived everyone around you and did a victory dance too. As someone who has been privileged enough to see Brandi in concert a few times, I can tell you she is just as great — if not better — live. Her voice is packed with raw power and emotion and this live album will make you feel as though you are front row center for something special.
Stevie Nicks — In Your Dreams (Reprise Records)
It’s weird knowing that Stevie isn’t gay but when I think about her, I can only think about how many of my lesbian friends in college absolutely worshipped her. Also, she says she will always love Lindsey Buckingham, who has a very feminine name for a dude. That is neither here nor there when it comes to this album but it is at the forefront of my thought process. What can I say about Stevie Nicks that hasn’t already been said? Her voice is one of the most easily recognizable in ‘70s and ‘80s pop rock music. From what I’ve heard of this new album, and it hasn’t been much so far, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel — which isn’t a bad thing when you’ve got a music career lasting as long as Ms. Nicks.
Priscilla Ahn — When You Grow Up (Blue Note)
This is the second full-length album from the Pennsylvania native and it reminds me of spring time after the rains have gone away and the flowers are starting to bloom. This is the kind of music you pack with you on a picnic — light and filled with sunshine.
Jennifer Lopez — Love? (Island Def Jam)
Jennifer Lopez is having quite the 2011: American Idol is doing better than expected, she’s People magazine’s most beautiful person of the year and now she can celebrate her album release. Full disclosure, I haven’t been able to listen to most of the album, but the single “(What Is) Love?” is a nicely polished dance pop jam. For all the Little Monsters out there, you’ll be happy to know Lady Gaga collaborated on two of the songs on this album, so it’ll be interesting to hear how those turn out.
Amanda Shires — Carrying Lightning (Silver Knife Records)
Amanda Shires has a really interesting (in a great way) style of music. Her instrumentals are all southern folk and acoustic soul but then she’s got this voice that spans a few genres and I really dig it. Apparently she blew many people away at South by Southwest and I am now collecting donations to send me to the festival next year. I’m really excited to hear more from this fiddling babe.
Destry — Waiting on an Island (Destry)
‘Tis the season for some light indie folk rock with a slight nod to the ‘60s. This isn’t the album to listen to when you’re trying to channel your angst into a soundtrack; save this for when you’re nostalgic and dreaming of happier endings for whatever mistakes you’ve made in the past.
Kelly Price — Kelly (My Block/Sang Girl!)
The Grammy-nominated singer has been out of the scene for a while and her last project focused mainly on gospel songs but she’s back to R&B with this new album. Her voice is a powerhouse and in addition to getting her album together, she’s got a clothing line coming out, a cook book and a TV pilot to shoot. Where do these people find the time to breathe? I can barely write this column!
Honorable Mentions: Beastie Boys (they are my first loves), Architecture in Helsinki, Blind Boys of Alabama, Fleet Foxes (love!), Sade (her ultimate collection including four new tracks), Have Nots, Hyland, Musiq Soulchild, RuPaul, Kylie Minogue (North American Tour EP) and INXS.