Qobuz new release review (July 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/aretha-aretha-franklin/hk8li9ga7e1sb

It’s not for nothing that this is the second four-disc box set devoted to Aretha Franklin’s career. 1992’s Queen of Soul collected 86 tracks (5 of which were non-album), culled solely from her world-beating era on Atlantic (1967–1976). There have also been multi-disc sets dedicated to her Columbia era and even her unreleased Atlantic material, as well as several compilations of her ’80s and ’90s hits on Arista. Aretha Franklin is not an artist whose career is lacking for retrospection. So what can yet another four-disc box set — released in this era of…


Qobuz new release review (July 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/welcome-2-america-prince/eshmtl03rh9ua

Broadly speaking, Prince’s musical output was almost always improved when he was collaborating with musicians who kept him on his toes creatively. The man released albums’ worth of superlative material that just poured directly from his brain with no intermediation. When it comes to the work he did with his bands, there is a clear difference in quality with the Revolution, the first incarnation of the New Power Generation, and 3rdeyegirl versus what he did with other lineups, which largely consisted of highly skilled but mostly personality-free players who tended to fall in line…


Qobuz new release review (July 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/love-drips-and-gathers-piroshka/flur40v27taec

Ah, the freedom of the middle-aged indie musician in the 2020s. With (at least) a couple of decades between today and their most memorable flirtations with underground notoriety, the artists who occupied swaths of column inches in Melody Maker and Option are now comfortably removed from any sort of modern relevance, saving them from a need (or desire) to try to fit into contemporary cultural conversation. …


Qobuz reissue review (July 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/chapter-two-50th-anniversary-edition-roberta-flack/ya706mmy506ec

Coming as it did on the heels of Roberta Flack’s groundbreaking First Take debut, and devoid of any iconic tracks like that set’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” Chapter Two has long suffered from an undeserved lack of attention that’s made it seem like something of a sophomore slump in this legendary singer’s catalog. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chapter Two is one of the rawest and most effective demonstrations of Flack’s incomparable voice and her equally impressive taste in material and presentation. …


Qobuz catalog review, July 2021

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/here-my-dear-marvin-gaye/xhxgucob6t2ra

For nearly half a century, Marvin Gaye has had the final word on the dissolution of his marriage to Anna Gordy in the form of his album Here, My Dear. Famously recorded as part of their divorce settlement — Gaye, being pretty bad with money, had to offer up half the advance and all the royalties from an upcoming album in lieu of a cash alimony payment — Here, My Dear captures the sadness, confusion, and anger swirling around the end of a 14-year marriage. It only captures Marvin Gaye’s perspective on those emotions, and…


Qobuz new release review (July 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/utopian-ashes-bobby-gillespie-jehnny-beth/ccizwiw8tll6b

What do you get when the man behind Primal Scream’s “Kill All Hippies” and the woman responsible for the careening wail of brutal Savages tracks like “No Face” make a record together? A genteel, sophisticated, and emotionally resonant album about the devastation of a broken romance, of course. While a soft rock album may not be the first thing one would expect from Bobby GIllespie and Jehnny Beth, it’s actually quite easy to find a throughline to this material from both the classic-rock slow jams in Primal Scream’s catalog and the balladry found on…


Qobuz new release review (June 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/merci-miles-live-at-vienne-miles-davis/ioougrwo4adwc

Reconsidering late-era Miles Davis is a dicey proposition. On one hand, there are albums like Aura that were largely ignored at the time, but upon revisitation, have proven to be challenging and consequential works. On the other, there are albums like Doo-Bop, which have … not. (To be fair, much of Miles’s post-’50s material took folks a while to warm to, as he was often an artist a few steps ahead of his time.) With that in mind, Merci! Miles Live at Vienne is both a curious time capsule and a bit of a…


Qobuz new release review (June 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/crash-of-the-crown-styx/f4wrckocgzbba

Now four decades past their commercial peak, Styx has no business making an interesting album, much less two interesting albums less than five years apart. But somehow the band has found time between the long and lucrative touring runs they continue to make through summer’s amphitheaters and winter’s casinos to write, arrange, and record two intriguing sets of new material over the past few years. 2017’s The Mission was the band’s first new album of originals in 14 years and it was a revelatory shot across the bow, marking their return to the New…


Qobuz new release review (June 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/couleur-dobet-gnahore/ky9fzca382bva

Typically, when a musician re-emerges from a period of reflection, their new work tends to be introspective and somewhat moody. Whether it’s creative, professional, or romantic struggles, the process of working through such turmoil often yields art that goes dark and deep, mirroring the spiritual strife endured by the artist. Not so for singer Dobet Gnahoré. Having moved from her birthplace in Côte d’Ivoire to Marseilles to escape civil war when she was just 17, Gnahoré launched her music career in the early 2000s and found tremendous success not just in France, but also…


Qobuz reissue review (May 2021)

https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/the-width-of-a-circle-david-bowie/o6tjfllc5j5cb

The Man Who Sold the World is either seen as the end of Bowie’s formative era or the genesis of his evolution as a truly unique artist. While 1971’s Hunky Dory is widely regarded as the first “classic” album in Bowie’s catalog, the years leading up to it were so incredibly busy and productive for the musician, with moments of occasional greatness (“Space Oddity”) occuring within a much larger batch of quite ordinary material. Between 1968 and 1970, Bowie would try out various permutations of baroque, acoustic pop and gloomy, semi-psychedelic hard rock, and by…

Jason Ferguson

I endorse listening to 45s, Florida summers, Bollywood, basketball, and people who are smarter than I am. I write and edit things.

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