Keith Urban – Graffiti U (EMI)
I really enjoy the fact that Keith Urban stays true to his strength, yet happy enough to push genre lines not necessarily country. Graffiti U is no different. To help him create this outstanding release Urban employed the services of an array of talented songwriters, producers and guest performers, among them three wonderful female artists. As a creative approach it allowed him to discover a new musical side of himself. There has been a lot already been said about the album’s first single Female and Gemini, a song about his wife Nicole Kidman, that has drawn controversy to Urban. But don’t be dissuaded by comments that this isn’t an album worthy of being listen to. It’s admirable, if anything, for trying to be country pop. Standouts include, the Ed Sheeran penned Parallel Line, Coming Home and Never Coming Down.
Missy Higgins – Solastalgia (EMI)
There are some artists who have difficulty switching between genres or they simply just often choose to stay in a particular niche because it’s most comfortable to them. Then there are those like Taylor Swift who successfully reinvent themselves, in an attempt to stay creatively inspired, and successful over a course of a potentially long career. In some respects, Missy Higgins falls in this latter group of artists, who have changed their creative life with interesting results.
For well over a decade Missy Higgins has delighted listeners with her piano and acoustic arrangements with celebrated hits like Scar and The Special Two, but now her new singles Futon Couch and Cemetery, of her fifth studio album, Solastalgia, unveil a more lush synth sound with drum loops approach arguably a reflection of her maturity as a musician and person. Lyrically Missy Higgins has approached songwriting differently here to, quite a contrast from her younger years:
“I’ve always tried to write honestly about what’s going on inside my head and that’s still the case so in a way nothing has changed”, Missy explains. “When I was a teenager I was writing songs about early heartbreaks and other stuff I was experiencing but my life’s very different now. I got married. We had a baby. My priorities have changed and my thoughts are gravitating towards different things like, well, the end of the world!” – Missy Higgins.
Solastalgia may sound like a leap of faith for an artist who cemented her career of the back of driving piano melodies but it is nonetheless most welcomed.
Kimbra – Primal Heart (Warner Bros
Kimbra is hard to forget, probably because like most fans, we all truly discovered her via her collaboration with Gotye and that epic song Somebody That I Used To Know. But it’s probably unfair to keep bringing up that fact, especially when as an artist in her own right, she is equally bold and creative. From start to finish, Kimbra distinctive vocals boom over an eclectro-pop sound abound with catchy hooks and beats. And while I might believe Everybody Knows, Lightyears and Human are certainly three of the albums standout songs, don’t forget the achingly beautiful Version of Me.
Bryde – Like an Island (Seahorse Music)
It’s quite apparent from the first moment of Bryde’s solo debut album Like an Island that there’s something undeniably special about her music. From her breathtaking vocals, with a faint but recognizable Gaelic lilt, to her grungy swirling guitar, Bryde takes us on a deep melancholic journey. Interestingly, the former frontwoman of Paper Aeroplanes may find reassurance or safety in her Welsh acoustic folksy roots with songs like Euphoria and Steady Heart, but it is her adventurous spirit to switch between folk and indie rock that makes this album come alive. It is her gentle guitar with tribal-like drums that eases the listener into the sweeping moving album opener called To Be Brave before letting loose on some of the most gritty indie rock that I have heard in a while. Flesh, Blood and Love, Peace and Fast Awake are all outstanding tracks with Desire rounding out what is a hard-hitting emotive album. But as for my favourite track , I seriously can’t get the song Less out of my mind. Bryde’s infectious vocals and her electric guitar are simply Wow!
Photo Credit: The album artwork of all four albums that I have reviewed above are courtesy of EMI, Warner Bros, and Seahorse Music. I make use of them under the rationale of fair use because no free equivalent seems to exist and they serve as the primary means of visual identification at the top of my article dedicated to the reviews in question. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip embedded here.