In the first big week of releases of 2009, there have been a lot of early reviews hyping new albums by Animal Collective, Antony and the Johnsons, Andrew Bird, A.C. Newman and Bon Iver. They are all worth a spin, but don’t let them overshadow the lesser-known musicians who are also coming out with some great music today.
Eliza Lumley— She Talks in Maths: Interpretation of Radiohead (101 Distribution)
Modern jazz singer Lumley does her own renditions of 11 Radiohead tracks, and manages to make them sound even more ethereal than the originals. Her version of “Creep” is slower, sadder and dreamlike, like Beth Gibbons‘ work in Portishead.
Jane Monheit— The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me (Concord Records)
Another contemporary jazz singer trying her hand at a different genre, Jane Monheit sings the songs of Fiona Apple, Corinne Bailey Rae and Paul Simon. Her take on Rae’s “Like a Star” is not to be missed.
Donna Ulisse— Walk This Mountain Down (Hadley Music Group)
Nashville bluegrass singer/songwriter Donna Ulisse is straight-up Americana with a tinge of gospel. Fans of country-folk will appreciate the themes on songs like “Dust to Dust” and “Poor Mountain Boy.”
Lisa Hannigan— Sea Sew (ATO Records)
The Irish singer may be known most for her collaborations with ex-boyfriend Damien Rice, but her debut solo album will hopefully give her a name of her own. She’s finally able to show off her range and strength, as opposed to the fragility she showed in Rice’s duets.