I love being a creative person and writing songs which hopefully have a life of their own, and their own identity. It’s kind of cool when people can’t exactly pinpoint where your inspiration comes from, and that means you have dug deep to add an inspiration or texture to your soundscape. The truth is, we are what we eat and I am a huge fan of artists across the board, old and new.
A question I get asked all the time is: ”what are you listening to?” I listen to all kinds of music, all the time, and by chance or fate, land with some unexpected gems on my lap. A good old test of what makes you tick musically, is if you can’t get enough of a newly discovered artist. My move to Portugal has been one of those journeys which has opened up a universe of new inspiration and artists of her land and former colonies.
The music of Lisbon is called, ‘Fado’, which means fate or destiny. It is sung with ‘saudades’, an expression which means nostalgia. The style has been around since the 1800’s, but transformed through new artists, like Cuca Roseta, who have taken it to another level of expression. Her 2011 debut album, ‘Cuca Roseta’, has barely left my player for the last year and still continues to inspire me.
Here is my favourite song off the album:
The second artist who I have not been able to get enough of is, Renata Rosa from Sao Paolo, Brazil. I was given her third album, ‘Encantacoes’, by a friend. Like Cuca Roseta’s album, it has lived in my player for the last 9 months. Her influences are from the Amazonia and Northeast Brazil, with the backdrop of percussion, violin, polyphonic voices and the 10 string ‘viola da terra’ guitar. It is mesmerising.
Here is a teaser from her album and the opening song, ‘Jurema’.
I haven’t listened to a purely guitar album for years, especially after trying to shed that label from myself in favour for world and singer/songwriter influences. My dear friend, and great guitarist, Solofo Razaiarisoa, from Strasbourg, France, came to stay and gave me this next gem as a gift, as well as the Renata Rosa.
This has to be the most exciting guitar album I’ve heard in the last 5 years. Chrysanto Zama is an acoustic guitarist from Madagascar and delivers on this instrumental 13 track album with rhythmic shifts from another planet, minimalistic phrasing and melodic beauty like I’ve never heard before.
Checkout ‘Veliomijoro’’, from his debut album;
Good Old Fixes
The reason I’m including 3 new titles here, is because they have that timeless connection to a bygone era which still inspires today.
One of my top 5 albums of all time is ‘The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East’. This double live album from 1971 was touched by the Divine and still talks to one’s heart like an ancient biblical devotion. The Allman Brothers, along with the Grateful Dead, started the whole Jam Band movement before it was termed that. My dear brother, Guy Buttery, just recently bought me the Deluxe 6 CD Box set version, including all the 3 nights recorded in march 1971.
Thanks to Guy Buttery again, as he introduced me to these two next artists who have bought that late 60’s/early 70’s joy back into my heart. Jonathan Wilson has the improvisational spirit of Duane Allman, the songwriting prowess of Jerry Garcia, and puts it all together like a youthful Neil Young. Both albums do it for me equally, his 2011 Gentil Spirit and 2013, Fanfare.
Then in closing, you get a 29 year old from Santa Monica, California who encapsulates all the above. Blake Mills Heigh Ho (2014) and second offering is fantastic. Great songs, guitar playing from another planet and a heartfelt truthfulness he carries on his sleeve. He is not afraid to tell it like it is. Gracious!!