After the long and seemingly unrelenting gloom of the winter months, it finally feels as if we are turning a page. In the coming weeks, as the welcome sights of warmer weather start to appear more often, we might find ourselves gravitating towards albums that match a (hopefully) sunnier disposition. Whether it’s a record’s bright production, aptness for easy-listening, or imagery anchored in the natural world, the albums listed below feel fit for spring listening.
GO EASY – JDM GLOBAL (2022, JDM GLOBAL)
A good place to start is JDM Global’s 2022 EP, Go Easy. In its short run-time, artist Josh Mehling is able to construct a world that is entirely his own, full of bright soundscapes and irresistibly joyful psychedelia. It pays homage to staples of alternative pop, as played out perfectly in the Tame Impala-like vocals on ‘Rush Things’, a track that is able to capture the feeling of youthful impatience and excitement. The accompanying visuals and music videos help immerse the listener into the EP’s sound – where the lead single ‘Dizzy’, depicts Mehling decked out in a colourful array of patterned shirts and palazzo pants, a fitting wardrobe to match the album’s whimsical way of walking through the world.
BIRDSONGS OF A KILLJOY – BEDOUINE (2019, SPACEBOMB)
Any of Bedouine’s past projects would feel at home in the sounds of spring, but I think that 2019’s Bird Songs of a Killyjoy does this best. Though her projects have all been released within the last decade, any track sounds like it could belong in the burgeoning folk movement of the 60s and 70s, with the production honouring traditional sounds and subtle homage to her predecessors, such as the vocals on ‘Under the Night’ that sound like a long-lost Buffy Sainte-Marie B-side. Thematically, the album questions the ideas of home as we struggle to feel grounded in our ever-evolving surroundings. Though life’s circumstances may change, the cycle of nature remains constant, including witnessing the transitions of the seasons on the opener; ‘Slower than the sap leaving the trees / slower than the colour turning into leaves. Endlessly comforting and inviting, Bedouine’s painting of the American landscape is one full of hope for better days soon to come.
STRAIGHT, NO CHASER – THELONIOUS MONK (1967, COLUMBIA)
One of the jazz-giant’s most notable records, Straight, No Chaser is a perfectly balanced mix of classics and original compositions. The album is full of expertly crafted arrangements, with Monk making cameos on piano whilst saxophone careens in the foreground. Shifting between shorter and longer improvisations, Monk is able to create an atmosphere of equilibrium. Even on more sombre tracks like ‘Japanese Folk Song’, brightness is somehow still able to seep through the cracks.
MOR AMOR – MENDRUGO (2016, FIRE AMERICA)
Singer Josephine Foster’s discography harbours a wealth of projects fit for every season, each lingering in her fantastical worlds against a backdrop of beautifully understated folk. However, her collaboration on the album Mor Amor showcases a joyful and collaborative side to her work. The tracks lapse in and out of production styles, from the all-acoustic opener ‘Introito Calliope’, with its stunning woodwinds, to the subtly intricate duet ‘Tanta Santa’. Sung entirely in Spanish, the album blends conventions of folk and flamenco, making its storytelling all the more intriguing as it explores aspects of rural Spanish life and its traditional practices.
CRYING, LAUGHING, LOVING, LYING – LABI SIFFRE (PYE, 1972)
Labi Siffre, one of the most underrated voices in British music, has undoubtedly gone on to influence the sound of modern soul and popular music. Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying, his folk endeavour, is no exception. Filled with the same devotional song writing that populates his other projects, the album is a tour de force in intricate guitar work and a real highlight in Siffre’s discography. Amongst its tracks is the original version of Madness’ 1981 hit ‘It Must Be Love’. Here the song sits in its purest form – a simple, endearingly cheesy dedication of adoration. Siffre’s fondness for the monotony of the everyday is infectious enough to add a little brightness to our own, as he beckons on the album’s closer to ‘push a little harder / get your feet on the floor’ encouraging an abandonment to spring’s new beginnings.