Daughter If You Leave/Glassnote
The first full-length album from London-based band Daughter is a sonic and emotional feast. “Lifeforms” encapsulates the album’s sound, tone and content, with echoing, reverb-heavy guitars, singer Elena Tonra’s husky, lilting vocals, and her metaphorical lyrics about cleaning up after your dead. The ebullient “Human” focuses on recognizing self-worth despite our shortcomings. “Youth”’s gorgeously down-tempo electric guitar augments Tonra’s subtle delivery “And if you’re still breathing/You’re the lucky one/ Cause most of us/Are heaving through corrupted lungs,” and when she connects all of this to the power of love, the result is rapturous. “Still” is the album’s most raucous track, with skyscraping guitars, hypnotic beats and an almost orchestral cacophony of distortion. Breathtakingly beautiful, sonic aesthetics, Tonra’s vocal ability, and deep, probing lyrics make If You Leave one heck of an album.
Dido Girl Who Got Away/RCA
With her latest release, it’s clear that not a lot has changed for Dido in the decade or so since she became an international music star. Her jazzy, breathy, and rich vocals still captivate on tracks like “Happy New Year,” the majority of her songs still focus on love (“Loveless Hearts,” “Love to Blame”), and she still mixes her angelic vocals with dance and trip-hop beats in catchy ways (“Blackbird”). “Girl Who Got Away” and “Go Dreaming” are two live-life-to-the-fullest standout tracks and “Let Us Move On” gets a jolt of energy from rapper Kendrick Lamar. For the most part this is familiar material to longtime Dido fans, and Girl Who Got Away may not be her most original work, but it’s still a good time.
Xenia Dunford His & Hers/Route 242 Music
Singer-songwriter Xenia Dunford’s first full-length album is noteworthy due to her powerhouse vocals and engaging mix of folk, rock, and Americana, and because her previous releases were more steeped in jazz and the blues. “Rhyme and Reason” showcases Dunford’s honey-smoked rasp as the mid-tempo, piano-led track bursts into an all-out rocker, while “1963” is an upbeat folk-meets-New-Orleans-jazz track that will have you dancing the whole way through. “Best I’ve Ever Had” finds Dunford extolling the virtues of an ex, while the somber piano ballad, “Home Waits for Me,” takes a look at starting a new chapter in your life. The magic of His & Hers has as much to do with the variety of musical style, as Dunford’s passion and vocal power.