Friday 28 December 2012

2012's honourable mentions

Hi all
Following our Christmas special that aired Sunday just gone, we're now gearing up for our even bigger show including the absolute best of the year gone past.  Well, I suppose I should make the point that this show will include the absolute best of 'what I was able to get my hands on at this time' - I imagine many of the CDs I'll be picking up in 2013 will have been released this year and would have gone beautifully on this show but hopefully those gems will take pride-of-place amongst the ongoing playlists as the months unfold.

While also addressing 2012's releases, I wanted to talk specifically about the posts I made a couple of weeks ago where I charted my top 5 albums of the year, which I'm sure will come as no surprise that each of them will have firmed places amongst this Sunday's playlist, but there were a few other releases that I just don't feel I can proceed without giving them their due credit and including them amongst 2012's honourable mentions...

'Home Again' - Michael Kiwanuka [Polydor Records]

Praised for his uncanny likeness to soul greats, particularly Otis Redding and Bill Withers, conversely criticised for exactly the same thing, Michael Kiwanuka's full-length debut album shouldn't really be looked at as anything other than a superbly sweet soul record.  Although 'Home Again' was a critical darling and became fully embraced by the Magic FM crowd, perhaps bizarrely, in many ways it seems to have bypassed the hardcore soul-purchasing public as many soul fans I know just didn't seem to be aware of its existence.  Stand-outs include 'I'm Getting Ready', 'Always Waiting' and 'Any Day Will Do Fine' but in truth you'd be hard-pressed to find anything bad on this release.

'Life is Good' - Nas [Def Jam Records]

I'd love to insert a bold statement here, something confident like 'Hip-hop album of the year!', but this is actually the only hip-hop album I actually purchased this year.  There was a time that would have been a laughable statement for me to make in a December but I think hip-hop and I have just travelled in different directions.  There are a very small handful of artists that I will consistently stick by though, and Nas is one of them.  The bulk of the production is expertly handled by Salaam Remi and No ID, and amidst soul samples aplenty, featured guests include Anthony Hamilton, Mary J Blige and Amy Winehouse amongst others.   With an album cover that was just genius in its execution (Nas seated alone with his ex-wife's wedding dress draped over his lap, with the words 'Life is Good' at the foot of the cover) setting much of the tone for this release, life at best could always only be bittersweet.

'Roots of Soul' - Gabriele Poso [Infracom Records]

Poso's effortless blend of jazz, latin and bossa flavours mixed with a natural soul aesthetic generated beautiful textures and layers of a fresh-faced sound always welcome when basking in the rays of a summer sunshine.  Valuable vocal assistance comes from noteworthy jazz vocalist, Nailah Porter, who appears on two of the album's tracks, 'Into My Heart' and 'A Night With You'; Tanya Michelle, who secures the coveted spot on the album's lead-off single release, 'Sunshine', and the aforementioned Osunlade who lends an excellent contribution to one of the album's three cover versions, Dawn Penn's 'You Don't Love Me'.  Album highlights also come in the form of ‘Dona Flor’, ‘With Me Come Fly’ and ‘Tin Tin Deo’.

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