The Softer Side: Dido, Travis Garland, Almost Charlie, and The Autumn Portrait

Where I reside of course it is now winter and the temperatures are dropping below freezing this week.  So time to curl up with a cup of tea and some songs on the softer side.


DIDO featuring KENDRICK LAMAR “Let Us Move On”

Dido’s No Angel was one of my most played albums at the turn of the millennium, with the stunning “Here With Me” (which also served as the theme to the TV show “Roswell”) my #1 song of 2000.  She’s back with her fourth album due in the Spring, mixing things up a bit on “Let Us Move On”.  While the song doesn’t break any new ground for the UK singer, it is a great piece of positive songwriting, punctuated nicely by Kendrick Lamar’s verses, with his inclusion obviously inspired by brother and co-producer Rollo’s work including with the seminal dance band Faithless.  “Let Us Move On” could find its way to audiences who gravitated to Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” in time.


TRAVIS GARLAND “Diamonds/Adorn”

Did we need yet another rendition of “Diamonds”?  Probably not, but the singer performing it after a gazillion cover versions is important.  I was pleased to hear Travis Garland again, after thinking the Texas singer who brought us “Believe” a few years back was M.I.A. in this strange music biz.  Nope, just my oversight, in fact he’s got a new EP Fashionably Late for free download at his website, and I’ll be checking that out.  But getting back to what you might have thought could be a questionable mashup, it is in fact extremely clever, and Rihanna’s Sia song and Miguel’s ballad blend beautifully.  Plus, Travis’ pipes just soar at the right times, and if his vocal wasn’t so strong the whole thing might have fallen apart.  


ALMOST CHARLIE  Tomorrow’s Yesterday

Tomorrow’s Yesterday is the third album from Almost Charlie, aka German singer and multi-instrumentalist Dirk Homuth.  It’s a pretty straight-forward concoction of high quality soft pop/rock/folk, which immediately recalls The Beatles (and John, Paul, and George’s solo work too), Simon & Garfunkel, Klaatu, and more.  The project is called Almost Charlie because of ‘fifth Beatle’ Charlie Mason, who writes all of the lyrics but does not perform.  Dirk’s vocals and arrangements execute compelling songs of varying moods and paces such as “Still Crazy ‘Bout You After All These Years” (my personal favourite), “When Venus Surrenders”, “Nice Place To Die”, “Open Book”, and the title song.  For those who like their coffee crisp and their tea brisk, Tomorrow’s Yesterday offers many pleasures to wind away your day.  Listen to “Open Book” and “Tomorrow’s Yesterday” below, and purchase the album through the Almost Charlie website.



The Autumn Portrait is the band name for Canadian singer Freddie Mojallal, and Tired Love is his second album release.  It’s a quick run-through of songs mainly about heartbreak, and we know how good tunes can sound when they get up close and personal.  Freddie achieves his promising presentation through sometimes sparse and ragged (almost live off the floor) recordings.  Think perhaps of the ‘whisper rock’ of Joshua Radin and a less poetic Adam Cohen, and The Autumn Portrait’s music is somewhere in the middle.  The best and most affecting song is the album closer “Ghost”, with other standouts being “Spain”, “Take Me Home”, and “Can I Come Back Home”.  Freddie has been gigging around Toronto so you might want to check out his show as well.  You can buy Tired Love on iTunes.  Watch the video for “Spain” below.

Published in: on December 23, 2012 at 12:32 am  Comments (2)  
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