Guess who’s back again! Joanna Burns fills your week with debut albums and moody reinterpretations of popular tunes.


Wildest Dreams – Ryan Adams

Definitely the biggest release of this week is Ryan Adams’ cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989. As a massive fan of both artists, I was excited about this album but still slightly nervous about how it would turn out. Covering an entire album by another artist is extremely rare and, no offence to Taylor, but I was worried how a talented musician like Ryan Adams could transform her music which, in all honesty, lacks much musical finesse. But I was proved completely wrong in all my doubts. This album is incredible and brings out a unique sadness in Taylor Swift’s music. It is remarkable how perfectly Ryan Adams has translated this music into his own genre and style. ‘Wildest Dreams’ in my favourite track, reminiscent of 70s rock as well as echoing Bruce Springsteen for me. If you’re a Ryan Adams fan and skeptical of this project, I would urge you to have a listen and fall in love.

Hurt – Gabrielle Aplin

Another major release of the week is Gabrielle Aplin’s new album Light up the Dark. It’s been two years since English Rain and this new album feels like a completely different artist than Aplin’s previous material. Moving away from her acoustic background, Light up the Dark is a more interesting, textured album, showing off her immense talent and ridiculously amazing voice. Most of the album is more of a mainstream pop album – upbeat, catchy songs showing off the range in her voice and her ability to belt out those top notes. As much as I love this new avenue she is going down, my favourite track on the album is ‘Hurt’, a song that echoes her more folk and acoustic side that was present in previous albums. Aplin’s voice conveys so much emotion when her music is stripped back and ‘Hurt’ is a perfect example of this.

Ban All the Music – Nothing But Thieves

Nothing But Thieves’ debut album will be released in October and everyone needs to listen to it as soon as it comes out. This band from Essex has a similar style and sound to Kasabian or Muse but lead singer Conor Mason’s vocals sets them apart from any other band right now. Nothing But Thieves have been busy touring alongside huge artists such as Arcade Fire, George Ezra and Twin Atlantic. ‘Ban All the Music’ does a good job of showing off the band’s unique style and Mason’s incredible voice. Not entirely convinced by the video but at least sit back and enjoy the music.

Steady – The Staves

I would use any excuse to get people to listen to The Staves, one of my favourite bands of all time. This week, they released the video for ‘Steady’, a track from their incredible second album If I Was. Every song on the album is uniquely beautiful and creates a bigger sound than their first album. The album was recorded and produced by Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver fame and his influence is clear throughout. ‘Steady’ showcases the stunning three part harmony that is traditional of The Staves as well as the new, more textured music they produced for If I Was. Justin Vernon said, in a documentary about the making of the album, that there must be something physiological about the sisters that make up the band that creates a vocal sound that is unlike anything else. Marvel in the beauty of their voices and try to work out what the video is about…

A Case of You – Joni Mitchell

Obviously not a new release but still an incredible song and Blue is, hands down, one of the greatest albums of all time. This is one of the best songs ever written, truly heart-breaking and honest. Blue was written at a time in Mitchell’s life when she was ready to be completely honest with the world and, because of this, we are gifted an album that is completely raw emotionally. Through looking into the background of the song, I learned that James Taylor, another of my favourite artists, plays guitar on the original track, which just makes it even better. Listen to James Blake’s cover of ‘A Case of You’ as well, which, if it’s possible, is very close to being as good as the original.


Joanna Burns