Berlin (dpa) - Whether folk, rock, soul, jazz or singer-songwriter - more and more women set the accents in pop. The German Press Agency presents ten musicians with their new albums in alphabetical order.
ASA - "Lucid" (Wagram / Indigo): Born in Paris 37 years ago as Bukola Elemide in Paris, this singer with Nigerian roots regularly performs fine records between soul, reggae, jazz and folk since 2007. This makes her very successful, especially in her home country of France and Switzerland. Her fourth studio album also offers a successful mix of styles - with excursions into Afro-Pop ("Good Thing") and political undertones ("Murder In The USA"). Asa describes the songs as "autobiographical in a certain way". But even if you do not pay attention to the lyrics, you are fascinated by their full, warm vocals.
WALLIS BIRD - "Woman" (Mount Silver / Caroline): Anyone who has seen the 37-year-old Irish singer-songwriter on the ZDF program "Aspekte" can confirm that Bird is on stage a power woman with a great deal of charisma and experience from over 800 gigs. Her sixth album since the debut of 2007 celebrates the love of a woman and the classic soul music - "always a vehicle for love and the desire for change," as Bird says. The Berlin-based musician does not try to sound any blacker than her role models, but combines Soul in a very successful way with her folk-pop roots.
JOSIENNE CLARKE - "In All Weather" (Rough Trade / Beggars): After years as a duo with Ben Walker, this young British singer recently accompanied Richard Thompson and Robert Plant on tour - a token of appreciation. Clarke recorded her solo album on the barren Scottish island of Bute - you can hear it in her bittersweet, very transparently orchestrated folk songs. "These are not love, but life songs," says Clarke. In "My Love Gave Me An Apple" a harp is heard, in "If I Do not Mind" a pithy electric guitar - and always the clear vocals to Sandy Denny. Great.
FEMME SCHMIDT - "The Luv Project" (Luv Records / Cargo): Something between slightly lascivious pop and jazz commuted until 1990 in Koblenz born singer Femme Schmidt (bourgeois Elisa Schmidt). She was so successful that she was already allowed to share with Coldplay, Bryan Ferry or Elton John Bühnen. Her new album sounds more spherical, darker, more like a European version of Lana Del Rey. Melancholic arrangements - such as in "Where Do We Go Now" - caress the expressive voice of the Femme. With seven tracks (plus two song downloads) a short album that extends the horizon of its predecessor "Raw".
EMMA FRANK - "Come Back" (Justin Time): The most beguiling album in this review comes from a blonde singer from Boston, now living in Montréal, Canada. It is already her fourth, and one wonders how this musician could stay under the radar so far. Even the title track and opener charm with smart Folkpop, even more then Emma Frank's cover version of the tears-stirring Wilco ballad «Either Way». Here is the British folk bard Nick Drake not far, elsewhere the legendary Joni Mitchell. A fantastic singer, a beautifully arranged album around jazz pianist Aaron Parks.
BRITTANY HOWARD - "Jamie" (Columbia / Sony): As the frontwoman of the US Southern band Alabama Shakes, she celebrated big chart successes and was allowed to pick up four Grammys. With her solo debut Howard dares new: away from Southern Rock and Folk, to sometimes bulky «songs that are not assigned to any particular genre». The fact that you sometimes think of Prince or other freethinkers of African American music history does not hurt. "Jamie" is dedicated to the sister who died early, processes racist experiences ("Goat Head") and, with "Georgia", has a love song to a woman. The 31-year-old has freed up.
JOAN SHELLEY - "Like The River Loves The Sea" (No Quarter / Cargo): "Rolling Stone" raves about "one of the loveliest voices" in pop - and refers to this 34-year-old singer. Following the breakthrough album (2017) produced by Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), she has again found celebrity support for her new work, including producer James Elkington and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Rightly in the center, however, is the noble singing of the American, whom she recorded this time in Iceland. Woven into the songs are the Irish, British and African roots of the music of their homeland Kentucky, says Shelley. A multi-layered folk album.
LISA SIMONE - "In Need of Love" (Warner): She carries her burden with dignity - as the daughter of Nina Simone (1933-2003). The 57-year-old singer combines the politically charged jazz of the famous mother with soul, gospel, funk rock and reggae ("Had I Known"). The new album recorded with French musicians may be the best so far, as an act of emancipation from the legacy of a larger-than-life role model. Even her fabulous voice makes Lisa Simone an artist of her own stature. And with "The Reckoning" she has at least one song in the program, which would have become a Motown world hit in the 60s.
SUDAN ARCHIVES - "Athena" (Stones Throw / Rough Trade): Brittney Denise Parks aka Sudan Archives is a singer and violinist. But what makes this young woman with voice and violin, has nothing to do with conventional ideas. African-born music, R & B and experimental electronics bring the artist, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a state-of-the-art brew that has already earned her the highest praise. The variable vocals are reminiscent of legends of the soul and have more in the next moment with Neutönerinnen as Solange or FKA twigs to do. "Athena" is traditional and up-to-the-minute.
ANNA TERNHEIM - "A Space For Lost Time" (BMG): She wanted to do "a very reduced record this time", says the 41-year-old singer-songwriter from Stockholm, who counts Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits among her idols. "In the end it sounds like a dark Swedish lake again." That sounds a bit resigned - but on the other hand you know what you get from Ternheim: carefully composed, highly personal, sometimes anthemic songs with depth. The title of the album is meant to express "the longing for the past" and thus fits in perfectly with this melancholy-soaked, graceful folk-pop.