Sunday, April 6, 2014

March 2014 - Popular Music

Tori Amos - Scarlet's Walk
Neil Finn - Try Whistling This
Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever Amen
Madonna - Ray of Light
John Mayer - Paradise Valley
Joni Mitchell - Blue
Katie Noonan and the Captains - Emperor's Box
Something for Kate - Desert Lights
Something for Kate - Leave Your Soul to Science

There was definitely a bit of digging down into the archives this month (archives that are still, sadly, a bit patchy on the pop music side, when the whole point was to make me aware of things I just hadn't listened to for years).  I listened to a Joni Mitchell album for the first time in 18 months, which seems an extraordinary amount of time for an artist whose body of work impresses me.

But the album I probably appreciated the most was Ray of Light. I enjoyed it so much the first time that I listened to it again within a day or two. That isn't common for albums that have been in my library for a long period of time.

I do own a couple of other pieces of Madonna's catalogue, but this is the only of her 12 'main' albums that I have. I'd still hesitate to call it a great album (as some of the songs are lacking in lyrical depth), but it is a very, very good one and a pretty satisfying listen. One of the best things about it is how much it feels all of one piece - I think of it and immediately there's a type of sound in my head - mature, restrained, electronic, atmospheric - and imagery to go with it. It's one of those albums where even the artwork plays its part in creating the whole package.

It's also great that it doesn't peter out at the end. In fact, the last few songs are among the strongest on the record.

I don't know how far Madonna's career still has to go, but at the end of it I think she'll be able to point at Ray of Light and say, this one I did really well. This had staying power. People still appreciate this one.

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