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Formerly half of 90s hip-hoppers God’s Favourite Dog, Volker Bertelmann has been making music as Hauschka since 2004 and, by my reckoning, What If is his 14th LP. Based around prepared piano and electronics, What If plays out in a cinematic, wide screen way. Drawing from modern classical, experimental electronica and post-rock with a touch of jazz, this is equal parts Michael Nyman, F**k Buttons, Max Richter and Tortoise. Listening to this on a lazy Sunday, it is easy to drift away, imagining the pieces soundtracking documentaries on National Geographic. Tat said, it is not all cinemascope. As well as having a great title My Kids Live On Mars is gloriously uplifting whilst the future-funk of Nature Fights Back should fill dance floors everywhere. Being wholly instrumental, this will almost certainly stay underground, maybe popping up on TV from time to time in the occasional advert, drama or documentary. And that will be a shame as this is really rather special. Perhaps the occasional vocal would bring this into the mainstream but maybe that would spoil it. Whatever, I’ll be listening to this for a good while to come and will be investigating Hauschka’s back catalogue.



You have probably living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Rag ’n’ Bone Man. He’s been performing for around 15 years now, but with a shiny new Critic’s Choice Brit Gong on the mantelpiece, and his first album out now, 2017 is set to be Brighton-born Graham’s year. Human was the first time many of us heard his gritty, soulful voice, and we were hooked. Skin (single two) continues the theme, and the voice is really showcased in acapella track Die Easy. Te theme of mortality is apparent across most of the tracks on the album, but there are times though when the album loses its way. It’s as though Rag’n’Bone Man hasn’t quite decided who he wants to be yet. Tere’s acapella gospel, soul, blues, synths, piano, strings, autotuning... you name it, it’s probably there. It might all feel a bit confused but when you sound like that who really cares. As I write this Human has reached No. 1 in the UK album charts, and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man can now add the accolade of the biggest- selling male debut album of last decade to his 2017 successes.



Prisoner may be his16th studio album, but the quintessential essence of Ryan Adams has never been clearer. Centreing around Adams’ recent divorce from actress Mandy Moore, Prisoner is a raw exhibition of a songwriter in his prime, crafting dusky rock songs from undiluted vulnerability. Do You Still Love Me? is a blast of energy, channelling 80s power ballad vibes at track one. From here the record tones down sonically but depth resides in the poetry of Adams’ lyrics. “I miss you so much I shiver and shake”, he sings on Shiver and Shake, over a bleak and echoing guitar. Glimmers of optimism shine through in places. Back to back To Be Without You and Anything I Say To You Now jangle with hazy discord, inspiring at least a foot tap versus their more downbeat counterparts. Unsurprisingly, there is no stand out single on Prisoner, which flows in a complete indulgence of its context to the bitter end. Tightrope breaks for a saxophone solo midway, a moving section of music that creates feelings of heartbreak the listener has never had, before the washed out, War On Drugs-like We Disappear rolls the credits on this painful but powerful chapter of Adams’ life.


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