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Saturday, February 3, 2024

New Music: Brittany Howard, Night Talks, Cage the Elephant, Norah Jones - and yes, Billy Joel

Brittany Howard: Prove It To You

The second solo album from the Alabama Shakes alumna, What Now, grew from songs she wrote during the pandemic. “[M]y heart was going through so many things," she tells The New York Times. "There was all this sorrow about seeing the world on fire, seeing people the same color as you getting beaten in the streets. On the other hand, I was falling in love.” This song speaks of the early stages of love (although that romance didn't last). Howard's soft vocal is backed by a disco beat, just one of many musical styles she explores on the LP. 

Night Talks: Double Vision

We managed to catch one of our favorite indie bands playing at a club in their home town of Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, and heard this song just before it was released. The performance filled the room with energy and had fans singing along with frontwoman Soraya Sebghati. As with their other recordings, this latest single manages to capture a lot of that energy in-studio.

Cage The Elephant: Neon Pill

Photo by Neil Krug
The song title and the lyric - "It’s a hit and run, oh no / Double-crossed by a neon pill" - seems to refer to sudden intoxication, whether from a literal pill or a love affair. Is Matthew Shultz is singing about past troubles with drugs or romance? Perhaps both. NME calls the band's first new music in five years an "angsty" single. 

Norah Jones: Running

The multi-Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-pianist will release her ninth studio album, Visions, next month. It's a collaboration with producer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels, who also co-write this first single and adds drums and baritone sax to Jones's vocals, piano, guitar, and bass. Says Jones: "The reason I called the album Visions is because a lot of the ideas came in the middle of the night or in that moment right before sleep, and ‘Running’ was one of them where you're half asleep and kind of jolted awake."

Billy Joel: Turn The Lights Back On

Not that he ever went away - as he has continued to tour and to make New York's Madison Square Garden his personal listening room - but Joel is back as a recording artist with his first original song in 17 years. The lyric certainly plays off the idea of comeback, but in the context of relationship: "I’m late / But I’m here right now / ... I see you now / As we’re laying in the darkness / Did I wait too long / To turn the lights back on?" Consequence of Sound writes that the single demonstrates Joel's enduring talent: "The recording is surprisingly raw. Never mind autotune — Joel allows his voice to wobble and occasionally brush against a wrong note, which only further highlights how nearly perfect the 74-year-old sounds."

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