Listen Up

Jazzy spoken-word, a beloved R&B ballad, a soulful lament and more new music

Yaya Bey: on the pisces moon

The second single from Yaya Bey’s upcoming EP, Exodus the North Star, “on the pisces moon” is a buoyant, reggae-tinged track about making the most of the love and time we have. “Two things for certain / the night is ours for the taking / the love is ours for the making,” she sings on the breezy tune. The artist says in a statement, “Exodus the North Star is my most vulnerable work to date. This is how I see joy and love in the world and what I aspire to feel and be. I have become an expert at turning my pain and grief as a black woman into music. Black people have a masterful way of telling our stories and sharing pain, but we’re also masters of joy and imagination. We have always been in a global conversation about how to alchemize our experiences and reimagine our circumstances. From the ties between Lovers Rock and R&B to Gospel and House. Our joy is a collective effort.”

Elli Ingram feat. Mahalia: Fool’s Gold

English singer-songwriter Elli Ingram taps fellow Brit artist Mahalia for the silky, neo-soul-tinged R&B lament, “Fool’s Gold”—the first release from Ingram’s upcoming Bad Behaviour album. The soulful track traces the demise of a relationship with a melancholy, slightly bitter tone: “The selfies don’t matter / our love’s in the casket,” Ingram sings. The Brighton-based artist says in a statement, “This is a special one. My first ever feature, produced by the OGs Felix [Joseph] & Aston [Rudi], with the vocals of Queen Mahalia. It feels empowering to share this moment… I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

Musiq Soulchild: is it love, is it lies

From Musiq Soulchild’s new Hit-Boy-produced album, Victims & Villains, “is it love, is it lies” brims with soaring harmonies, piano loops and dramatic percussion. Soulful and buoyant, it’s an enchanting neo-soul track that, a little over halfway through, transforms into a jazzy spoken-word piece.

Dot Major: Hideaway

From Bose and NME’s C23 mixtape (a revival of the magazine’s much-loved talent spotlighting C-series, which debuted online 15 March and will receive a cassette and vinyl release this spring), “Hideaway” is the latest solo track from producer, multi-instrumentalist and London Grammar member Dot Major. Within, a rippling electronic soundscape requests that listeners dance along before yielding to a spacious, reflective atmosphere that ultimately returns to the undulation. Major wrote the single on a modular system during a rainy day in the middle of a rainforest. That organic influence infuses the song.

Nia Archives: So Tell Me…

The fourth track from Nia Archives’ recently released EP, Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall, “So Tell Me…” puts a soft and vulnerable spin on jungle music. It’s a unique and lush melange of genres, comprising gentle guitar plucking, keys and elegant strings. Floating along the dance beat is the London-based producer, DJ and songwriter’s sweet vocals which address Archives’ decision to leave home.

Bobby Caldwell: What You Won’t Do For Love

Singer, songwriter and musician Bobby Caldwell has passed away at 71. Beginning his musical career as a teenager, he performed in Vegas as part of Katmandu, then as a guitarist in Little Richard’s band. In 1978 he released his self-titled debut album which features his most enduring and beloved song, “What You Won’t Do For Love.” Famously, his record label chose to keep his face off the cover, as R&B was typically thought of as Black music—leading to surprise when listeners found out he was white. Caldwell also wrote for other artists including Roberta Flack. Known for his soulful voice and flair for various genres, his smooth, sultry, horn-heavy tunes will continue to delight listeners.

Michael Hamilton: Glimmer

From Glasgow, Scotland-based composer, producer and session musician Michael Hamilton, “Glimmer” is the shimmering, glitchy third single from his forthcoming electro-symphonic album, A Language Forever (out 14 April). A euphoric undertone courses through the layered, atmospheric track. “The working titles for these tracks can often be quite telling of their aesthetics. Glimmer’s was ‘Disney Finale,’” Hamilton explains in a statement. “The album covers a lot of emotional ground, it can be quite intense and dark at points, but I wanted to close it out with a moment of euphoria and warmth. I wanted to leave listeners feeling positive at the end of their journey, and this is the album’s lightest, most whimsical point.”

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel. Hero image courtesy of Michael Hamilton

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