Reviews & Recommendations

Album of the year: Back to Back nominees

14th December 2016

Less than two weeks until Christmas & the thought of this will be enough to hold me over until Christmasday. Be that as it may, there will be days, extra dark & unnecessarily long, requiring a bit more to get through. If you’ve read last week’s post, you should know that for these occasions music is one of my go to tools. I mentioned my special playlist full of tear jerkers for those somber days. Sometimes a good cry is all you need. On the other hand, I mentioned one should be cautious of getting lost in their emotions. Which is why I also have a playlist to cheer me up.

It should be no surprise that it’s somewhat filled with Christmas songs. I am a Christmas fanatic for a reason. As soon as I press play, I have a smile on my face & not just during the holidays. I can listen to a Christmas album, all day, every day, anywhere and anytime. Sadly this is more of an exception and not a rule. Thus I decided to spare those of you read most of you who dislike Christmas songs. I mean, my goal here is to replace misery & spread cheer. Rather I decided to share my 2016 nominations for album of the year. For a specific category that is. One which I’ve always missed in any of the big music awards, be that the Grammys, the AMA or the Billboard awards.The four commandments of nominating a back to back album of the year

Lately I find myself listening to one or two songs off an album. That is if the artist in question even puts out a whole album. I feel like they are becoming rare breed. Worse off are those that have the power to transform your environment once you’ve hit play. Take you back in time, to memories which you could’ve never put into words. Or transport you into the future, forming images you’ve only dreamt off. I’m talking about storytelling albums. Those you can listen to cover to cover are becoming extinct if you ask me. Introducing the overdue new music nomination category: Back 2 Back. Being the creator and all, it’s only right for me to have the honour to reveal the first ever nominees. To keep it fair, I’ve set up some requirement the albums needed to meet in order to be nominated.

And the 2016 ‘Back 2 Back’ nominees are:

This What The Truth Feels Like – Gwen Stefani:
Album cover: This Is What The Truth Feels Like

This Is What The Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefanni

Her collaborations with Eve, Akon and Pharrell Williams, to name a few, warrant that her music will cross my earbuds from time to time. Not to mention her golden oldies with No Doubt. Nevertheless, other than her recent divorce to Gavin Rossdale & her new romance to Blake Sheldon, I had forgotten about her. That is until her performance of ‘used to love you’ on the Ellen Show in 2015. I was reminded that she made music & intrigued about her upcoming album. Right now it’s one of my favourite albums, which I did not see coming. Same goes for the fact that I’ve played & keep on playing the whole album cover to cover. The reason being that she’s managed to put the whole process of -heartbreak followed by self-love & falling in love all over again- in to eight catchy pop songs. I’m sure I’ll get some flak for this one but I can’t help what I love, and this album I definetly love.

Absolute Faves:  Truth, Asking 4 It & Me Without You. |Songs I could do without: Naughty.

À Contrecoeur (Mon Coeur Avait Raison) – Maître Gims:

In case you didn’t notice by his name or by the song/album titles, this is a French album by a Congolese/French artist. I’m kind of  (but not really) cheating with this album; here’s what I mean. It’s actually a re-release of his 2015 album ‘Mon Coeur Avait Raison’. Which is also the album that made me fall in love with his talent. Don’t get me wrong, his 2013 bangers ‘Bella’ & ‘J’me Tire’ off the album ‘Subliminal La Face Cachée’ were dearly enjoyed. However they didn’t persuade me to listen to the whole album. Furthermore, after their newness wore off, so did my interest in him. I’m just being honest here. Having said that, he sure did prove me wrong with this album. What really caught my eye, or ear to be precise, is his ability to play with words. Especially in his ballads. Though I call myself fluent in French, even I had to pick up a dictionary here & there. That just show how great his wordplay is. For those who don’t speak French, do not let that scare you away. In my opinion, this album transcends language barriers.

Absolute Faves: Est-ce que tu m’aimes, Je te pardonne & Tout donner.| Songs I could do without: Mayweather.

A Seat At The Table – Solange Knowles:
Album cover: A Seat At The Table - Solange Knowles

A Seat At The Table – Solange Knowles

I don’t even know where to start with this album. I love all of it. From the first beat drop until the last note of the last melody of the last song. I feel that Solange has put my feeling as a black girl/woman, growing up in a western world in to words. From feeling insecure, to feeling weary, to not knowing how to feel and how to act upon those feelings. Yet also creating anthems celebrating my flaws, the fact that I’m allowed to have flaws; parts of me perceived as flaws but inherently make me who I am & thus should be cherished. A much needed album celebrating black women, their beauty and everything that makes them who they are. Simultaneously reclaiming & proclaiming their seat at the table, without dictating what shape that particular table has to be. It celebrates black diversity, black uniqueness without a single apologetic note to it. That, next to the candid, forthright, sincere interludes, have made this one of my go to albums. There’s no way I can listen to this album, yes the whole album, without feeling uplifted & inspired.

Absolute Faves: The whole album | Songs I could do without: NONE!

4 Your Eyez Only – J. Cole:

Last but CERTAINLY not least. Jermaine came through for me! I started with a list of ten albums, with a total of 157 songs. During my selection process, I had to leave J.Cole out considering his last album was released in 2014. However, I feel like he felt the pain that caused me & decided to drop this beauty on the ninth of this month. Let me tell you, Christmas came early. The moment I fell in love with is was when I listened to it for the second time in the same day. As I was listening to the song, I realised he wasn’t singing about his own life. He was telling the story of a friend he lost, who left this beauty as his last gift to his daughter. For her eyes only. I was so caught up in the story, I nearly missed my stop. The story, his way of telling it, captured my mind throughout the whole commute & it keeps on doing this, every time I listen to the album.

Absolute Faves: The whole album | Songs I could do without: NONE!

Hopefully these suggestions will help you get throught the last days until Christmas. Also I cannot wait to hear your nominees, so let me know in the commets below. Which 2016 albums did you listen to cover to cover, back to back?

-xoxo-

Alida.

Photograph source @ spotify.

 

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