What I’ve Been Digging Lately has been gone for a minute, but now we’re back with the jump off. While 2016 has notably seen some untimely artist passings, this year has also already been an incredible year for music. April, specifically, brought us songs and sounds from every genre that we believe that you should add to your playlists. We’ve got a little bit of Chicago soul, Nashville country, Virginia jazz, some rich indie pop, and a tall glass of Lemonade from a super special megastar. Dig in and read on to see what we’ve been listening to over this past month.
Adam Ness — “High Places”
While rappers-turned-singers and vocalists with more alternative-driven sounds are reigning on the R&B charts, it is rising independent artists like Chicago resident Adam Ness who are working to keep the true sound of R&B alive. With his debut release #HighPlaces, Ness offers up a perfect blend of heartfelt lyricism, quaint harmonies, and raw musicianship. Much like BJ the Chicago Kid, D’Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, and many of the reigning R&B Kings of the past, Ness does a great job of bringing the sacred and sensual together by incorporating elements of his religious upbringing into the music. If you’re looking to be uplifted, turn to tracks like “High Places” and “No Lack.” But if you’re looking for a song to share with your significant other, “Abrasive” and “Blush” are perfect for your most special moments. Stream the whole album for free on his bandcamp page.
Lucius — “Born Again Teen”
Berklee College of Music voice majors Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig have joined forces with the help of Dan Molad, Peter Lalish, and Andrew Burri to bring forth the magnificent music of Lucius. The indie pop troupe debuted in 2012 and shared their Wildewoman album in 2013, and now they’re back to bring us more pop and folk blended fun with the brand new album Good Grief. “I had a dream where you were standing there with a gun up to my head,” Jess and Holly sing as the album opens. Sure, that’s a peculiar way to start an album. But everything about this group is equal parts odd and fascinating. For instance, the album’s lead single “Born Again Teen” is a high energy, noisy anthem calling out for the feeling of teenage love. Other standouts on this album include “Almighty Gosh” and the harmonious ballad “Dusty Trails.”
Chris Stapleton — “Sometimes I Cry”
Chris Stapleton is a Nashville native singer/songwriter who has penned songs for the likes of Adele, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker, and Luke Bryan since the early 2000s. After years of working diligently and patiently waiting his turn, this man with a massive vocal prowess is finally reaping the benefits of the seeds that he has sown. Okay so I’m a bit late for this train it seems. Stapleton’s debut album, Traveler, was released almost a year ago, but it wasn’t until the country crooner recently shared the stage with Justin Timberlake that he caught my attention and the ears of millions of other listeners. His rousing duet rendition of Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” was just the tip of the iceberg. If you dig deep into his catalogue, specifically on the above album closer “Sometimes I Cry,” you will hear just what this man is really capable of and why you should keep his impeccable work in your iTunes library, just as I’ve recently done.
The Charles Owens Trio — “Something”
Virginia has long been a hub of musical excellence. The state has graciously donated to the music world undeniable talents across various genres, from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald to D’Angelo, Dave Matthews Band to Lamb of God. And if you thought that this state’s reign had let up, then you were sadly mistaken. The Charles Owens Trio consists of Virginia natives Devonne Harris, Andrew Randazzo, and of course, Charles Owens. And their jazz re-working of The Beatles’ 1969 hit “Something” is something quite spectacular, reminiscent of The Bad Plus’ covers of commonly played rock tunes in a jazz style. Featured on A Day with Us, this remarkable arrangement of George Harrison’s original work finds these three gentlemen showcasing their exquisite musical skills by remaining true to the heart of the song while also adding in a hint of improvisation. This trio’s work is strong enough to make Virginia proud and if George were still here, he, too, would be proud.
Beyoncé — “Don’t Hurt Yourself”
It’s practically impossible to talk about the music that I’ve been digging in April without mentioning Beyoncé and the strong glass of hard Lemonade that she shared with us all. Just before the month ended, the shape-shifting powerhouse teamed up with Tidal and HBO to unleash her second surprise visual album and all of the world must deal. From the genre-bending sounds and bold lyricism to the powerful imagery (exemplified in the unapologetically all-in-one “Formation”), Lemonade finds Beyoncé breaking out of the box again and proudly representing and uplifting black women. Possibly the most bold and brash piece of this puzzle would be the rock-tinged anthem “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” With the help of Jack White and a Led Zeppelin sample, Mrs. Knowles-Carter lets loose and completely exposes her darker side. Whatever your thoughts on her lyrics, it’s undeniably fascinating to hear this pop and R&B vocalist step out and walk in the footsteps of rock goddesses like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Tina Turner.
Do you have a recent release we should hear? Share it in the comments below. Bring your sound to new audiences with our free course on how to book a tour. And check out the full “What I’ve Been Digging Lately” series!