I’m often asked the question: “Do you listen to ANY music from the 21st century?” The answer is yes, but the number of albums released in the aughts that I would consider potential future classics can be counted on one hand. As the saying goes, there are only two types of music - good and bad, and it always seems to be more personally fulfilling to uncover good new OLD music. So, check out these three albums that I love, and remember that classic music is always new to someone.
Leon Ware - Musical Massage Serving largely as the musical foundation for Marvin Gaye’s borderline epicurean 1976 album ‘I Want You’, Musical Massage was not only the template for Gaye’s mid-70s post-modern hedonism, but has influenced an abundance of contemporary soul artists from D’Angelo to Maxwell - the latter tapping Ware to collaborate on his debut album ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’. From the warm strings of the title track, to the dulcet seduction of ‘Turn Out The Light’, this album is an overlooked, indisputable soul classic. Key tracks:Instant Love (with Minnie Riperton); You Are What You Are
The Brand New Heavies - Shelter The follow-up to their 1994 album ‘Brother Sister’ finds the Heavies moving away from the groovy, funk/jazz of their earlier work to a more traditional R&B palate - thanks in large part to the addition of new lead singer and songwriting stalwart Siedah Garrett. The album kicks off with the feel-good call and response lounge anthem ‘I Like It’, whose lyric, “...me and the boys we’re jammin’ - I hope you don’t mind...”, belies the meticulously crafted, smooth soul vibe of the rest of the album. Conceptually, the album touches on a host of themes - from confident kiss-off in the ballad ‘Stay Gone’, to the danceable empowerment of ‘You Are The Universe’. Sonically, it stands alone in their catalog (not in a bad way) and might be their most cohesive work to date. Key tracks:Crying Water; Feels Like Right
Doyle Bramhall II - Doyle Bramhall II
The Austin, Texas guitarist released his first solo album to little fanfare outside of the music industry. With a long history of playing the blues, including a stint with the band Arc Angels, his debut marked an evolution of the contemporary blues sound. Featuring songwriting and production contributions from Wendy & Lisa, (yes, that Wendy & Lisa), much of the album has a decidedly polished feel - with some blistering Bramhall guitar solos sprinkled throughout. While the quasi-instrumental track ‘Time’ can be considered the backbone of the album, ‘Part II’ with it’s arena rock percussion and “...all I wanna do is to make you feel better” refrain, brings some punch halfway through. Overall, it’s an incredible piece of work that every lover of music should have in their collection. Key tracks:Song From The Grave; Stay A While