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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Salonski - Fauna

I’m finally writing about a band that’s not only still active but also Slovenian! Isn’t that something? But seriously, I’m actually really happy to be writing about someone I personally know for a change. Two of my good friends are in a somewhat obscure Slovenian band, called Salonski. Two months ago they released their debut album ‘Fauna’ which made me take on this post. At first I was a bit unsure how to go about it - should I try to be as objective as possible or not? In the end I decided I’m just going to write what I think and not worry about being biased (which I know I will be).

The band went through a lot of member changes through the years, but currently consists of Domen Finžgar (accordion, vocals), Ines Vodopija (piano), Jana Arlič (violin), Larisa Petrič (violin), Miha Hafner (french horn), Miha Poredoš (ukulele) and Žiga Barba (trombone).
Domen, who is the leader and the driving force of the band, never fails to amaze me. It seems creativity is oozing out of his every pore. Besides being a musician, he’s a composer (the whole album is composed by him), a great comic author and a game designer. On top of his constant artistic outputs, he’s also a hard working student of Forestry at University in Ljubljana. The variety of his interests shows that he has countless ideas and that he doesn’t want to be bound to just one way of sharing them. And it’s not just the sheer number of the projects he takes on, it’s the eagerness and confidence with which he executes them, that is impressive. Fauna, of course, is no exception. Check out his tumblr, to see and follow his other projects.
He managed to put together a great band, without which he wouldn’t be able to get his point across quite as powerfully. All of them are actually an inspiration to me - everytime I listen to the album I can’t believe that this unique piece of music was created by a group of students for whom music is just something they do on the side.

You can listen to Fauna on this link, where you can also purchase it.

From the first time I heard they’re recording an album, I could hardly wait for it and then, when I could finally give it a listen, I was thoroughly impressed. From the first few seconds of the album, when Domen’s accordion warmly backs his vocals, I was already digging it and after the whole band joins in, I knew I was in for something great. I’m glad to say, I wasn’t mistaken.
Photo by Sabina Pirnat
The album is truly amazing. Its genres range from folk, etno, doo wop to rap, cajun and tango, while its inspirations reach even broader. It’s very easy to listen to and its strongest point, I believe, is that it is so incredibly comforting. Not everything is executed with perfection and some parts are modest, but through that it shows the honesty and unpretentiousness of the whole band. They love what they’re doing and they play from their heart, which always shines through. The great, unusual instrument selection gives the album its warm sound. And I must say, no drums is a welcome change from what we’re used to hearing every day. The melodies are earthy and the phrases are often simple, but never boring or predictable. Finžgar’s vocals are raw and somewhat unpolished but sincere, absolutely convincing and warm.
As I’ve said, the range of inspirations is vast and impressive. I love how Domen in his songs takes a piece of an inspiration, blatantly uses it, but adds his own perspective and makes it completely his own. He really has a knack for combining all kinds of genres.
He says that for most compositions he originates from his accordion playing and draws from there. This makes accordion central part of Fauna, which is just great, since Domen knows how to squeeze all the good juices out of his instrument and bring out the best in it. Other instruments at times sound like extensions or assets to his own playing, and it sounds perfect - listen to Shruti Box and Early Riser. For the other part they provide a reliable background and simply weave the fabric of music, which, in essence, makes this album what it is.

The first song, ‘Ljubezen delala’ was where Domen tried interpreting the songs differently for the first time (which is why it was chosen to be the first track). He combined ‘She thinks I still Care’ and a song he and Žiga heard in Slovenian countryside, performed by a random stranger. Please listen to ‘She thinks I still Care’, just to hear how skillfully it’s crafted into ‘Ljubezen delala’.
I wanted to just mention the next song, ‘Tango za mentalno mrtve’ (Tango for the mentally dead), because of the source of the lyrics. They borrowed it from song by Gravediggaz, 1-800 Suicide (2:45). When you go through the whole album and search for all the different inspirations it’s amazing to think how they pulled it off. Gravediggaz is just one example.
And my two favourite songs (well technically, three) on the album are ‘V Calgaryu ni letališča’ and ‘Shruti Box’ with ‘Early Riser’. The first one’s lyrics are really touching and strong and the whole song is in sync with that. I’m touched every time I listen to it. ‘Shruti Box’ + ‘Early Riser’ on the other hand, are just great to listen to. I appreciate the development or the storytelling aspect to it.
At this point, I’d like to apologize to all my english speaking readers, since some lyrics are in slovene and I’m not translating them. I hope this won’t deter you from listening to the album.

I’ll finish the post here, since I don’t want it to go on for too long. I am considering writing another one about Fauna, going more into the specific songs and talking about the genius usage and blend of different inspirations in them. I’m not sure though, we’ll see.

Your comments are, as always, much appreciated. Until next time.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

In A Silent Way

For some reason, I’m really afraid of writing about instrumental music. Even though I really want to, basically all my posts so far have been about music that includes a singer. After confiding in my friend about this fear, he made a great suggestion: we would tell each other which instrumental album to write about on our next blog post, and just do it. It was exactly the kind of motivation I needed. So here I am, nervous and afraid, writing my very first post about a piece of solely instrumental music.


The album my friend chose for me is In a Silent Way by Miles Davis. I usually talk about the artist for a little bit, but if I wanted to talk about Miles, one whole post probably wouldn’t suffice, so I’ll make it extra brief. Miles Davis, born in 1926, was a jazz trumpeter and one of the most influential musicians in the 20th century. For 50 years, he basically kept inventing new genres and explored jazz in so many new directions (Bebop, Hard bop, Modal jazz, Fusion, Cool jazz). It’s safe to say that jazz today wouldn’t be where it is without him. If you don’t know who he is, you might want to read something about him, as he is one of the most important figures of the 20th century music. Or better yet, listen to some of his classic albums - Kind Of Blue, ‘Round About Midnight or Milestones. Keep in mind though, that that is only a tiny part of his musical career - what he’s created over the years ranges far beyond these three albums.


When I first started listening to jazz and heard about Miles Davis, I just didn’t get it why he’s supposed to be so good. Sure, I liked Kind Of Blue, but that’s about it. It was making me kind of annoyed, that everyone was praising him so much. I thought he was overrated and was frustrated that no one else saw that. Even with this opinion, I didn’t think his early stuff was bad or anything, whereas the weird fusion thingy, I just couldn’t take. His weird appearance on stage didn’t help with that. So, very early on, I decided that I don’t really care for Miles Davis and that I hate jazz fusion.
Four years of listening to jazz (but avoiding Miles and anything similar) later, I suddenly found myself getting more and more interested in Bebop, Avant-Garde, Modern jazz, all the stuff I thought I didn’t like. Just like that, Miles’ music eventually crept back to me after all that time. I gave the albums I knew, another listen and was surprised that this was the same music as the kind I used to dislike. It sounded differently. I loved it! There were so many beautiful things happening in the music and I couldn’t understand how I couldn’t hear that before. Even though I had evidence against me, I kept my skepticism against Miles.


So when my friend asked me to write about Miles Davis’ album, you can imagine how I was unsure about that. I thought to myself “how on earth am I going to write about this?? I’m probably not even going to like it”. Nevertheless, I decided that, for once in my life, I’ll get out of my own way, and agreed on the choice. It turns out, I LOVE the album! It’s one of the most intriguing things I’ve ever heard. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, I found out that In A Silent Way is supposed to be the first fusion album Miles recorded. . . I was confused, “Wait, aren’t I suppose to hate fusion jazz? But this sounds so good. How come?”. After a few seconds of thinking about it, the music took over and it didn’t matter anymore.


The album itself is wonderful! It’s dreamy, contemplative, other-worldly, melancholic, magical and even dark. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve always been fascinated by dreams and everything related to them. So it’s probably just me, but I feel like this whole album is about dreams, which is why I absolutely love it.
The first song, Shhh/Peaceful, starts off with just the drums, organ, piano, bass and guitar letting you look around and get the feeling of what the song is going to look like. They set the stage for Miles, and when he comes in, he glides on top of that background, as smooth as ever. Listen to his tone and articulation. He’s got such control over his instrument, it sounds like it’s not just a trumpet, but an extension of his thoughts.
The song then goes on and develops like dreams do. And you know how in dreams something’s always off and even though you’re somehow aware of it, everything feels just right anyway. Well, listen how the drums provide a really groovy and quite powerful beat, but the music itself is so mellow and gentle. At first it sounds a bit off, but after awhile it just feels right.
Another correlation between this song and dreams is how many details the sound has. No matter where you look, there’s always a detail you didn’t hear before.
The song continues making an impression like that until, just after becoming slightly turbulent, it rolls off.


At this point, I was already totally in awe, but there was another part, just as good as the first one. What a treat!
The second song, In a Silent Way/It’s About That Time, begins so darn beautifully! It sounds so optimistic and hopeful, something like a beautiful landscape after a storm. After you get a chance to really hear this gorgeous sound, the flow changes quite abruptly and they start building on top of that. It feels like this beautiful music is delicate and sensitive, since after a slight change, everything follows. I guess it sounds like, what I think a development of an idea in someone’s mind would sound like - from that first inkling to a full-blown idea. In any case, an amazing second part to this unbelievable album.


Listening to and thinking about this album was a really wonderful experience. I sat in a cozy chair, dimmed the lights and set the music to a comfortable volume. Then I listened. . . I mean really listened. I was shocked by how many things I could actually hear. If I had listened to this about a year ago, I would have thought it’s nonsense. I guess I must have had some kind of invisible earplugs in my ears.
Forty minutes of this dreamy music went by like four minutes. The whole album is filled with so many thoughts, feelings and emotions, I found myself thinking about it for some time after it stopped playing. And I love how great music inspires me to listen to even more music, which is exactly what happened in the next few days.
I suggest you give In a Silent Way a listen as well. Don’t think about it too much, just listen and let yourself feel the wonders of music.

Monday, 1 April 2013

There Will Be a Light

Two months ago I began making some decisions about my studies and consequently I was focusing on college and neglected my blog and photography. I’ve simply put it on hold. I thought I didn’t miss it that much, but then, a couple of days ago, I was reading one of my older posts. It made me remember why I started writing in the first place. I mean I enjoy just listening to music, but writing about it gives me something more. It makes me more aware of how passionate I actually am about music and I love that feeling. So here I am again, writing after a (too) long break. For the past few weeks I’ve also started doing something new - I committed to listening 2 new albums every week, which means I definitely won’t run out of stuff to write about.


Enough about that, let me talk about what I’m here to talk about. In 2004 Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama recorded an album called There Will Be A Light. It is one of my favourite albums of all time and one of the best collaboration albums I know. I’ve always been completely blown away by good collaborations. It’s simply beyond me how two groups are able to melt into one so completely so that they don’t sound like two separate groups, while at the same time, retain and show what each makes them unique. And it all fits together perfectly! It’s nothing short of magical. The reason I’m bringing this up is because the way Ben Harper and the Blind Boys Of Alabama work together on these 11 songs is an epitome of what I’m trying to say.
Before I listened to this album, I knew Ben Harper’s music as quite eclectic, but the part I was interested in was a mixture of indie, rock, folk and maybe blues, with most of his songs being introspective and somewhat melancholic. Which I love. Here are a few great songs, so you can hear what I mean.


The Blind Boys of Alabama is a gospel group that’s been active for well over 70 years now and they’re one of the best in their field. And if you’re wondering, yes, they’re actually blind (apart from one member I believe). They were performing in Ljubljana a couple of years ago and I really regret not seeing them - at that time I had no idea who they are. Now I can’t think of any other group that would make this album as powerful as it is now.


Seven of the songs on the album are written by Ben, specifically for this occasion. The rest are traditional gospel tunes and covers (keep an eye on Bob Dylan’s Well, Well, Well). The moment I heard the first song of the album, Take My Hand, I knew I was in for a treat. What an understatement that proved to be. The album is just that good!
The Blind Boys of Alabama create a basis on which Ben flourishes. They provide a background that’s rich, joyful and full of faith to his emotional, honest and heartwarming singing. Add to that a great instrumental accompaniment and you get this incredible piece of music. Here are, in my opinion, the highlights of the album:


The title song, There Will Be a Light. No words needed here. Just listen and feel it.


Powerful rendition of Well, Well, Well with some crazy guitar work on 11th commandment before that.


The a cappella song, If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again, is simply haunting. It’s amazing that a human voice without any instruments to back it up is capable of creating such an emotional work of art. Probably my favourite song of the album - the Blind Boys Of Alabama at their best, if you ask me.


What do you think? Do you love it as much as I do? Do you agree that their collaboration on this album is perfect?


Until next time...


P.S. Does anyone have any requests for what you would like to see me write about next time?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Bobby McFerrin & Wynton Marsalis

Photo by Frank Stewart
Back in October 2012, in my post about Bobby McFerrin I mentioned I attended a concert in New York, but never talked more about it, so I wanted to do that now.
Last September I went on a trip through New York, Washington and my beloved New Orleans (you can check out the photos on my website). As was my wish for years, I wanted to see where jazz was born. Just days before my departure to New York, I found that Wynton Marsalis and JALC were performing with Bobby McFerrin. I had to double check, because I could not believe my eyes. I was ecstatic. Two of my favourite artists performing together?! What a way to start the trip that was already meant to be all about music anyway.
The venue - Lincoln Center in The Time Warner Center on the 60th street - was so beautiful, sophisticated and classy. Some don’t care about that, but I always appreciate a nice atmosphere at a concert. The concert’s theme was Bobby McFerrin’s biography, but I felt that wasn’t exactly the main thing of the night, it was more of a way to convey this great collaboration. I mentioned Jazz at Lincoln Center in one of my previous posts and they are truly amazing. It’s a band consisting of only great musicians and I really enjoy their sound and like pretty much anything they do. At the concert it felt like they could make anyone sound awesome, let alone Bobby McFerrin. I am a great admirer of both Bobby McFerrin and Wynton Marsalis, and this was probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. In hindsight I would, however, like to see Bobby do more of his usual crazy stuff and Wynton solo more. But nevertheless, the concert was magical just the way it was. The band and Bobby just clicked on so many levels and I guess that’s the result of Bobby blending in more and not doing his usual stuff to the fullest potential.
I was so thankful to be able to listen to their rich sound in person. It was so intense, I remember getting emotional and filled with such happiness throughout the concert. Ah, I can’t wait the next time I’m going to hear Wynton or Bobby live again.
I highly recommend you listen to the whole concert, I believe it’s well worth it. But if you don’t have the time, or are not interested, here are a few excerpts.

Beautiful rendition of George Gershwin’s Prelude No. 2. It’s evident right away, how well they they go together, Bobby and JALC.

Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee, and the only time at the concert where Wynton and Bobby directly interact with each other. And it is golden! If you’ll listen to only one song, listen to this one. Their duet always brings a smile on my face, it’s just soo good!!! I love it.

They performed this concerts a couple of nights in a row. I was there on the opening night and the video on youtube is from one of the following nights. There are minor differences, but there is also one major one. On the opening night, there was Paul Simon in the audience and after the intermission, Mr McFerrin called him up on stage to sing Scarborough Fair with him. At first he was really reluctant and didn’t want to come up, and we all really thought he wouldn’t. But after a lot of convincing from the audience, Paul came up. That’s right. Paul freakin’ Simon! Just when I thought the night can’t get any better... Needless to say, it was the highlight of the concert. Beautiful, magical, mysterious and heartwarming.
Here is a version without Paul, beautiful as well.

And finally some crazy Bobby McFerrin stuff - here he sings Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. I know right, who on earth sings this?
At the concert I attended, Bobby sang solo a capella version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow for encore. Genius!
I’ll say it again, I strongly recommend you take an hour and forty minutes for yourself and enjoy this beautiful performance. I think Bobby McFerrin and Wynton Marsalis have some special energy between them and you can hear it firsthand.
It’s actually one of my wishes, that they record an album together. They’re just so amazing together. Listen to a song they recorded together on one of Wynton's albums - Baby, I Love You. The kind of chemistry they have is simply infectious.

What about you, what do you think? Thoughts on the concert, Bobby, Wynton, JALC, the post? As I always, I encourage you to share your comments.

Until next time everyone.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson
Today, my two greatest passions in music are definitely Jazz and Blues. But it wasn’t always so and there are two musicians who got me interested in this music and ushered me to a whole new musical world - just as Louis Armstrong kindled my passion for jazz, Robert Johnson did so with the blues.
The first time I heard his music, I was blown away. I only heard one song and already knew that this is what I’ve been looking for. I was mesmerized by the raw emotion conveyed within the song. I haven’t heard anything quite like it before. The singing, the guitar... it was all so powerful. And the reason I can remember all of this so clearly is because nothing has changed - the moment I put on Robert Johnson, I feel exactly like I did the first time I heard him. The only difference is, that with every listening, I hear more and more nuances in his music. Listen to Come On In My Kitchen and how he plays melody and rhythm at the same time on his guitar, and all the while he delivers this amazing singing, like it’s not even a big deal. Or maybe Terraplane Blues, where it almost sounds like there’s more than one guitar playing (it’s all just him, fyi). But maybe don’t even listen to that, just listen to the emotion and the feeling of the songs. You don’t need to know anything about music for this to blow you away, just be open to it. Huh, I get excited about Robert Johnson, I need to calm down.
So who is Robert Johnson? Let’s put on a song first, before we get started.




Of all the bluesmen, Robert Johnson’s life is probably the one shrouded in mystery the most. Robert Leroy Johnson was born in 1911, in a small town Hazlehurst, Mississippi. He developed an affection for music as a teenager and started playing a harmonica. When he was around 19, he took interest in guitar and started playing that instead. Around the same time, his wife died in childbirth, which made him turn to his music that much more. He was learning from any source he could get his hands on, and it was obvious that he was still just learning. His most important mentor and source of inspiration was a bluesman, Ike Zinnerman. It’s been told that they were playing their guitars late every night in graveyards on tombstones, where no one would bother them. If he wasn’t with Ike, Robert would go to the woods by himself, where he was trying to learn everything he could about the guitar. After a couple of years he started travelling around the state to play around different juke joints. The musicians that had heard him when he was still just learning, were amazed. They could not believe what kind of progress he made and how his abilities suddenly surpassed their own.
Because of his talent and because he played all the time and everywhere, he quickly became famous around those parts. He played with many musicians and he left a mark on most of them. He played in places, where they requested all kinds of different songs, so he developed an amazing ability, where he had to hear a song only once before he was able to play it. He could be deep in a debate with a friend, with music playing in the background, and without ever stopping the conversation, he could play and sing the song perfectly afterwards. That helped him with a well-rounded repertoire for his gigs.

Robert had a big appetite for women, and women were crazy about him. He had a habit of finding a woman in any town he went to, who would give him food, money and a place to stay. His lust eventually killed him. One time, while playing in a bar, he was flirting with a woman for the whole night. What he didn’t realize, was that it was the owner’s wife. The owner was furious to see this, so he put poison in young Robert’s drink, which killed him.


That’s one way of telling the story. The other (which makes much more sense, if you ask me) goes like this: an aspiring young musician wants to become famous and is willing to do anything for it. He tries really hard but his desire is greater than his patience. One day he finds out, that if he goes to a certain crossroad at midnight, he’ll meet someone who can help him. And that’s exactly what he does. At the crossroads he meets a tall dark man, who tunes his guitar, plays a song or two, and gives it back to him. And with that, the deal is struck - Mr Johnson sells his soul to the Devil, in exchange for the incredible musical abilities and renown. He goes back to the musicians that taught him to play and surprises everyone with his skills. He’s unbeatable. But there was another part to the deal - a couple of years later the Devil gets his toll. Robert Johnson gets killed by the age of 27.


No matter what story you believe in, Robert Johnson’s music is simply amazing and incredibly influential. Apart from some testimonies about his life, 3 photos of him and his 29 songs (with alternate takes it adds up to 41 recordings) are all we are left with. Thankfully, the depth of his music makes that plenty.
 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Robert Johnson as told by Keith Richards

Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson is my favourite bluesman of all times, so I wanted the post about him to be really good. Otherwise I would feel I'm not doing him justice (and even now I'm nervous because I want to make sure that doesn't happen). Therefore, I'm doing it in two stages, with this post serving as an introduction to the post I'll do in a couple of days.

Brian Jones had the first album, and that's where I first heard it. I'd just met Brian, and I went around to his apartment-crash pad, actually, all he had in it was a chair, a record player, and a few records. One of which was Robert Johnson. He put it on, and it was just-you know-astounding stuff. When I first heard it, I said to Brian, "Who's that?" "Robert Johnson". I said, "Yeah, but who's the other guy playing with him?" Because I was hearing two guitars, and it took me a long time to realize he was actually doing it all by himself.
I've never heard anybody before or since use the form and bend it quite so much to make it work for himself. The quality of the songs themselves-I mean, he came out with such compelling themes, they were actual songs as well as just being the blues. The songs and the subject matter, just the way they were treated, apart from the music and the performance. And the guitar playing-it was almost like listening to Bach. You know, you think you're getting a handle on playing the blues, and then you hear Robert Johnson-some of the rhythms he's doing and playing and singing at the same time, you think, "This guy must have three brains!"


To me Robert Johnson's influence-he was like a comet or a meteor that came along and, BOOM, suddenly he raised the ante, suddenly you just had to aim that much higher. You can put the record on now, and it's as fresh and interesting as the first day you heard it. Everybody should know about Robert Johnson. When you know about something, and comperatively few other people know about it, that's a crime in a way; you've got to do what you can to tell people, "Hey, check this cat out. Because you're in for something extra in your life." You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it.

by Keith Richards

 Come back in a couple of days - you're in for something extra in your life, as Keith put it. Since it's Robert Johnson, I couldn't agree more.

Monday, 7 January 2013

De-Lovely

De-Lovely
A couple of days ago, I watched a movie about an amazing American songwriter Cole Porter, called De-Lovely. To anyone who’s never heard of Cole Porter before: he was a prolific composer, famous for his Broadway shows and his numerous jazz standards. He was something special for writing both lyrics and music for his songs, which was a rarity at that time. He had an amazing ability to come up with genius, funny, witty lyrics, often full of innuendos, always accompanied by beautiful melodies. Anybody, who was ever somebody in Jazz, recorded songs by Cole Porter at one point or another in their career - from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday to Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson and many others. And to anyone familiar with Cole: even if you’re only remotely interested in Mr Porter, this is a movie you cannot miss! After watching the movie, I started understanding his songs much better and I started noticing more important details in his music and intricate lyrics.
The movie starts at the end of Cole Porter’s life, with the dying songwriter retrospecting on his life, but observing it as if it was a musical. It’s a great concept that fits perfectly to his life and music. The story talks about his life, his indulgence and his very interesting relationship with his wife, Linda. It features great performances by Robbie Williams, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole and others. It’s truly a great biopic, which reveals new dimensions to the irreplaceable Cole Porter. The only criticism I have is that the movie starts and ends with a great rhythm, but somewhere in the middle seems to slow down a bit, which makes it feel a bit inconsistent. But seeing as how great the movie is overall, this is hardly an important remark.
I highly recommend the movie to anyone interested in music or anyone simply looking for a good story. In case you like it, I suggest you get Ella Fitzgerald’s Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook to listen to afterwards. Her renditions are simply beautiful and it’s a great way to start getting into Cole’s music.
Now get the movie as soon as possible. You won’t be sorry. Enjoy and come back afterwards to tell me what you thought! I'd love to hear your comments.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack
Ugh, I haven’t posted in almost two weeks now, it’s almost like I slept through the holidays. Anyway I’m back now, so let’s get right to it.

Roberta Flack, there’s an amazing singer! I’m not sure why I haven’t written about her in my women in jazz series, but I’m making up for it now. I was introduced to her music by a good friend last year and I’m still grateful.
Roberta Flack is a singer and a songwriter, born in 1939 and most notably known for her hits in the 70’s. If you’ve never heard of her, you probably know her by her famous “Killing Me Softly With His Song”, which won her a Grammy in 1974. Another quite renowned song she recorded is “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”.
I don’t care too much for either of these songs and I’m not sure why. I guess they just don’t move me. But I do love and respect Roberta and the reason for that is her first three albums - First Take, Chapter Two and Quiet Fire. They’re soft, sophisticated and soulful. In life in general, I appreciate things that slowly build up to their peak, may that be in music, movies, books, shows or food. I feel that if something builds up to its full intensity gradually, it’s much more powerful than it would be, if it was as forceful from the very beginning. And I’m saying this, because I think songs in these albums provide just that - a wonderful slow build-up. That, of course, doesn’t mean there’s not much happening, it means they’re really powerful and strong.
Her music on these albums is like the ocean waves hitting the shore - at first glance it seems slow, quiet and serene but in reality it has so much power and energy.
These three albums are amazing and I highly recommend them. Here are two songs to get a feeling of what kind of music to expect.

Roberta is still creating new music. Just last year she recorded an album Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles. I really like The Beatles and I used to be obsessed with them so when I saw that she made an album full of their songs I was excited. As soon as I started listening to the album, the excitement was replaced with disappointment. With the exception of one song, it’s an awful album (at least to my ears anyway). You know, how sometimes older people try to sound young and hip but they end up just sounding awkward? Well that’s how I feel about this album. It sounds like she did some stuff on it just because “it’s what young people listen to these days”, instead of doing her own thing. For the better part of the album I was shaking my head, and asking myself “why?”. As much as I enjoy Roberta’s early music, this is one album I probably won’t listen to again.




What do you think? Do you have a Roberta Flack favourite? As always, I really appreciate any kind of comments.