The jukebox for March: Lana Del Rey, Israel Nash, Genesis Owusu …

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If on the pandemic front, March turned out to be rich in twists and turns (and not the best), in the music department we can talk about the month of good surprises. Finally, not on the side of Justin Bieber, who revealed behind a huge title (Justice) an album hollowed out of its substance last Friday. But you only have to see Bieber’s ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez who, like others before her (Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé), takes up Spanish and does Beats reggaeton his strength in Revelation.

In the jukebox of Time also, nice surprises. Starting with the seventh opus by Lana Del Rey and its chiseled mists, which (re) places her in the pantheon of songwriters that matter. The covers of Neil Young too, signed by the British group Tindersticks, which grabs the drum machine for the occasion. Or the first efforts of Genesis Owusu, Australian-Ghanaian troublemaker, as well as the French-speaking rapper Awori. Treats to enjoy like chocolate Easter eggs – a little early.


Israel Nash (US), the Loner in the veins

What happened in 2013 so that this son of a pastor, who fell into music as a child but author until then of two quite dispensable country-rock albums, ended up laying a masterpiece of americana – his album Rain plans? The miracle of geography and the forces of the invisible, obviously. After a childhood in Missouri and a stint in New York to try a career, Israel Nash chose a ranch in the suburbs of Austin, Texas, as his place to live. “As soon as I arrived here, my music and my lyrics changed drastically. As if there had been a spiritual shift. A real transition from my previous albums, ”he admits. A fluid on which he continues to surf: since Rain plans, it is as if he had injected Neil Young intravenously, to the point of winning the unofficial title to inherit the official Loner. After the excellent Silver season (2015) and Lifted (2018), he comes back with Topaz, undoubtedly what he did best and most effective. Singing, melodies, production, arrangements: he is untouchable in his field, where there is now him and the others. Philippe Chassepot

Israel Nash, “Topaz” (desert folklore)


Lana Del Rey (US), beautiful mists

The last time we saw Lana Del Rey was in 2019 on the big stage of the Paleo. A performance as vaporous as her dress, it seemed to dissolve, between two lascivious poses, in its sweet refrains. Since then, the New Yorker seems to have regained her density. Chemtrails on the Country Club, seventh opus (almost ten years later Video games) confirms his gigantic talent of songwriter. Without leaving the dreamlike, retro and nostalgic universe that characterizes him, he traces refined contours, more delicate than pretentious. Minimalist but relentless melodies, the 11 tracks take us to a hazy LA with reliefs of Yosemite, like so many distant memories. In White dress, Lana Del Rey sees herself again as a 19-year-old waitress, recounting her naivety of a falsetto disarming, or summons a former lover in the evanescent Tulsa Jesus Freak. Themes dear to the singer, the price of success and disappointed loves float in vapors of folk and americana. But that’s when she surrounds herself with female voices to resume Free of Joni Mitchell that she undoubtedly marks her prettiest shot. Lana Del Rey has the secret of this elegant and fuzzy pop where beauty and melancholy compliment each other; good news for lovers of bittersweet: a new album is already announced for June. Virginia walnut

Lana Del Rey, “Chemtrails over the Country Club” (Polydor)


Svarts (CH), a flash in the dark

There is something in Svarts’ music which is as much of a consuming pleasure as it is of a science, in crushing eras – by this we mean the power to bring things back to life and, simultaneously, to force a possible future to be embodied here and now. We explain: Geography, conceived between two arcs (Jura and Lake Geneva), is a record that you will surely want to classify in a drawer labeled “pop of darkness”. You would be right: we are here in front of songs which, in their heart, grab you by the cage of the ribs, and take you with, despite everything, a kind of sweetness towards emotions of which you were bored. But listen better: you are in fact in a much larger sound ecosystem, in which electronic reeds, sound processing of magnificent strangeness and superior vocals (Danaé Leitenberg and Saskia Von Fliedner) push you towards granite guitar walls. . You will realize, then, that the geography of Svarts has all that of a new world. Philippe Simon

Svarts, “Geography” (Hummus Records)


Genesis Owusu (AUS-GH) shows the fangs

A black Dog is not only a black dog, it is also an allegory embodying in turn depression and racism. A figure and two omnipresent themes on the first opus of Genesis Owusu. If the background is serious, the form cannot be enjoyed by walking around in the rain hooded. Through the 15 tracks of this concept album, the 22-year-old Australian-Ghanaian artist takes us on an experimental whirlwind mixing hip-hop, electronic, funk, punk, folk, and no wave sounds. A happy mixture, not to say an organized mess, of sounds constantly jostles the listener, who sometimes finds himself trying to decipher a chorus before realizing that it is recorded backwards. These productions overlap in a surprising way to form a coherent and resolutely festive whole, on which the artist treats with accuracy the daily mockeries experienced because of his skin color (Black dogs!), toxic relationships (Centrefold) or the mental instability that celebrity can cause (Gold chains). The trip could have ended with a happy ending (Without looking back), but Genesis Owusu wanted it more realistic, remembering that you can’t get rid of depression and racism overnight (bye Bye). Alexandre steiner

Genesis Owosu, “Toothless Smile” (House Anxiety / Ourness)


Tindersticks (GB), the discreet charm of melancholy

For almost thirty years, three decades already, the Tindersticks have enchanted us with music that belongs only to them. If we can speak of chamber pop with folk outbursts or haunting rock under the influence of soul, if we can evoke a hypnotic melancholy or an intoxicating emotional whirlwind, no definition really befits what the Nottingham group has proposed since the release, in 1993, from his first album. The tape led by the dark and magnetic Stuart Staples, long unable to take the stage without an advanced state of intoxication, has crossed time and fashions without deviating from its line. But now her thirteenth studio album opens with Lonely man (can’t stop the fadin ‘), an astonishing 11-minute track built on an electro loop that will slowly intensify, while the always warm and reassuring voice of baritone Staples will be doubled. Impossible to define, again. Maybe we just dare to evoke a sort of minimalist trance – almost the urge to dance, despite the bittersweet lyrics, when in general the music of the Tindersticks is more conducive to tears. If the rest of the disc turns out to be closer to what the English have always proposed, there remains a resolutely minimalist approach, as well as a few other surprises, like these covers in rhythm box mode by Neil Young (A man needs a maid) and TV personalities (you’ll have to shout louder), or this song in French, Kill me, as if to recall the long companionship of the group with the filmmaker Claire Denis. Stephane Gobbo

Tindersticks, “Distractions” (town slang)


Awori (CH-UGA) and Twani (F), royal ghosts

We discover it, embroidered breastplates and sad smiles on the period portraits. Ranavalona III was the last Madagascan queen. Who, at the end of the 19th century, fought against the colonial invasion, a struggle paid for by her exile in 1897. It is to this figure of resistance, courage and female determination that the Swiss-Ugandan rapper Awori ( born on March 8, International Women’s Rights Day, it can’t be invented) dedicates her first album. Composed with the Lyon beatmaker Twani, Ranavalona masterfully brews hip-hop rhythms, electro sounds and vibrant neo-soul to express self-determination, the power of the collective, and also uprooting. An introspection exercise for Awori who left his native Uganda for Switzerland at the age of 11. Voluptuous stamp worthy of the “queens” of R’n’B, the rapper mixes French, English but also Luganda, the language of her mother, on the enjoyable Nkomawo (“I will be back”). “I put my heart, my soul, my sweat and my tears in this album, and I summoned the spirit of this great queen to give me inspiration, guide me and protect me”, confided her on Instagram. Resolutely urban, imbued with confidence and agility, Ranavalona is up to the ghost he summons. VN

Awori x Twani, “Ranavalona” (Galant Records)


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