Musically speaking, 2016′s gotten off to a bittersweet start as we said goodbye to icons such as David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Vanity, and Maurice White. On the upside, however, there was the greatness that was Kendrick Lamar’s performance and his Best Rap Album win at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards; Beyoncé’s “Formation” video, Super Bowl 50 performance, and subsequent memes, gifs, and think pieces; and of course, loads of incredible new music. From Rihanna’s ANTI to KING’s I Am KING, Eryn Allen Kane’s Aviary: Act II, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, and Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+ Evolution (not to mention Lion Babe’s Begin, Tweet’s Charlene, and many, many more), the new year overfloweth with ear candy excellence, and there’s even more on the horizon!
Corinne Bailey Rae, ‘The Heart Speaks in Whispers’
It’s been six years since British songstress Corinne Bailey Rae’s last full-length album, the absolutely deluxe The Sea, which was followed by The Love EP. Come May 13, we’ll get to experience CBR’s new release, The Heart Speaks in Whispers. The album’s first single, “Been to the Moon,” debuted just weeks ago, followed by the hypnotic “Green Aphrodisiac.” Both singles are available as automatic downloads when you pre-order the album on iTunes.
Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals, ‘Call It What It Is’
When Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals reunited in 2015, making it officially official with their inaugural “back together again” performance at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, it was just the ray of hope longtime BHIC fans needed that a new studio album wouldn’t be far behind. Hallelujah for miracles and steel guitars, Call It What It Is is set to bless us on April 8. The title track, which pointedly takes on issues of police violence, racism, and social injustice, debuted in February and is a slow-burning, funky guitar-laden tune. The follow up single, “Shine,” first premiered on Afropunk and was featured on Apple Music’s U.S. Best of the Week playlist. BHIC will be making the rounds playing festivals and headlining shows throughout the summer. Stay up to date at benharper.com.
Clairy Browne, ‘Pool’
With a sound and style evocative of Amy Winehouse, Australian chanteuse Clairy Browne brought the retro pin-up girl vibe to life as the front woman for The Bangin’ Rackettes. Giving a nod to groups like the Ronettes but with way more attitude and sass, the band broke through with their 2013 U.S. debut, Baby Caught the Bus (the album initially released in Australia in 2011), featuring the smash “Love Letters,” and followed with their 2014 EP, Love Cliques. Now she’s set to drop her first solo project, Pool, on April 15. While the album’s lead single, “Vanity Fair,” is sonically akin to the Rackettes’ throwback ‘50s vinyl sound, the latest record, “Still Goodbye,” brings a more modern feel.
Gregory Porter, ‘Take Me to the Alley’
Gregory Porter can do–and sing–no wrong. He could pretty much sing the phone book or something equally as ridiculous and we’d believe every single word, because this man sings with all the conviction in the universe. He’s coming through with new music soon, as his next album, Take Me to the Alley, will grace our eardrums on May 6 and is available to pre-order on iTunes and Amazon. The lead single, “Holding On,” delivers Porter’s rich, distinct baritone in such a way that it envelopes every note as it makes its way to your ears—and your heart. Be sure to catch him on tour this summer.
Res is, hands down, one of the most glorious artists to ever do it. Her debut offering, 2001′s How I Do, delivered maximum impact with tracks like “Golden Boys,” “They Say Vision,” and “Ice King.” As part of the duo Idle Warship with hip-hop giant Talib Kweli, Res released another album in 2011, Habits of the Heart, followed in 2014 by a mixtape entitled A Box of Chocolates. And while she’s continued recording, touring, and keeping fans engaged on social media, she has yet to release a new solo album. All that will change soon, as Res launched an Indiegogo campaign on March 15 in support of her new project, Reset. Keep up with Res on Twitter and Facebook to stay abreast of her crowdfunding efforts!
Rhonda Nicole is the Managing Editor for SoulTrain.com, a member of The Recording Academy (The Grammys) and ASCAP, a soul singer/songwriter, music journalist, blogger, and curator of the BohemeRockstar Music Blog (IG @BohemeRockstar), splitting her time between the Bay Area and LA. Download her EP ‘Nuda Veritas’ on CDBaby and iTunes, keep up with her new music at soundcloud.com/rhonda-nicole, follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @wildhoneyrock, and dig her musical musings at rhondanicole.com.