After my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
Jessie Ware "Overtime"
In 2012, for at least a full year, I obsessively listened to Jessie Ware's debut album, Devotion. It was full of songs inspired by late '80s and early '90s dance floor throwback jams of the sort that now litter Ryan Murphy's TV shows. She pivoted to a more ballad-y place for her last two romantic albums, but this new track from her? Back on that dance floor shit. And I am way into it, because I need to dance like a maniac to sweat out the anger the last few weeks in the news have made me feel. The track has strong Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam vibes, but as produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis working on some early Janet Jackson records —meaning: sultry AF, but also pop AF.
Sharon Van Etten "Comeback Kid"
You know what? For this track, I'm going to let Sharon Van Etten tell it to you in her own words: "I want to be a mom, a singer, an actress, go to school, but yeah, I have a stain on my shirt, oatmeal in my hair and I feel like a mess, but I'm here. Doing it. This record is about pursuing your passions." After a few listens, I'm feeling passionate about her deadpan delivery, fresh as the first time I heard it, and those great synth sounds on the chorus of this song. Another one for my dance playlist!
Justine Skye "Build"
What does the perfect man look like for you? Do you have a list in mind of things that always make you always swipe left? Do you have dealbreakers? Justine Skye eloquently runs down her list in this track, only to come to the realisation that since she can't make the perfect man she'll work on making herself better instead. Probably the most progressive love song I've heard in a minute and with a hell of a beat — which sounds like something Raphael Saadiq would have wrought — driving it forward at a steady pace.
Lea Thomas "Upstream"
And now for a little shot of pretty: Lea Thomas reminds me of Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez. She's got that gorgeous, smooth voice and the picking fingers of a truly inspired artist. Thomas played nearly all the instruments on this track (and her whole album), which is impressive for any artist. It's not easy to go from this sort of intricate guitar work to a slide guitar to a bass to drums. But it is empowering.
Savannah Conley "Never Be Ourselves"
Savannah Conley is working out her Nancy Sinatra dreams and Dusty Springfield wishes with this video, but I'll be damned if her vocals aren't a head turner. That somber timbre in her voice is offset by a guitar line in a major key, creating the perfect wistful song in the country/folk tradition. Save this one for your next breakup playlist.