Voices

It came as a shock last weekend to discover that among my fellow punters at a folk concert back in November 2012 was David Cameron. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister slyly hinted at the hipness of his musical tastes by revealing how he and Samantha snuck into a First Aid Kit gig as the Shepherd Bush Empire. Until then, I had flattered myself that I had a cool and recherché appreciation of music, and that hopefully I had avoided the pretentious music so often accompanied by the word “recherché”.

Ketil Kinden Endresen

Theodora, By Stella Duffy

The author of twelve novels, including crime and genre fiction, Stella Duffy is a writer who doesn't stand still. Her latest work - a bravura re-imagining of the life of Theodora, Empress of Byzantium - is her best.

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Album: Alela Diane, Alela Diane & Wild Divine (Rough Trade)

Nothing in Diane's previous albums of guitar-led psych-folk will have prepared listeners for the poppy direction that has come with enlisting her husband and father to her backing band and luring Scott (REM, Nirvana) Litt out of "retirement" to produce.

Album: The Low Anthem, Smart Flesh (Bella Union)

The trouble with boasting a number of singer-songwriters within the same band is one of identity: a problem that didn't hinder Rhode Island's the Low Anthem on their breakthrough album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin in 2009 but does here.

Album: Azure Ray, Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek)

Azure Ray is the some-time project of singer-songwriters Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink.

Album: Thea Gilmore, Murphy's Heart (Fullfill)

Busy, heartfelt, garrulous English pop-rock like an overheard rant in a provincial pub: compelling, because it appears to reveal so much; frustrating, because the sheer volume of words drowns the valley.

The ten best flat shoes

Chosen by Eleanor Duffy

Album: Imogen Heap, Ellipse (Megaphonic/Epic)

Through dextrous manipulation of the US teen-TV soundtrack market, Imogen Heap has all but supplanted Dido as the favoured voice of emotional turmoil in series like The OC.

Album: Joan Coffey, Struggles and Lulls, (Tipod)

The world is not short of length-and-line singer-songwriters doing it for themselves, hoping to fly under the major-label radar. Most of them are very ordinary.

The Making of a Sonnet, Ed. Edward Hirsch & Eavan Boland

Only 14 lines long (but sometimes not), divided just past the half-way line (but sometimes not), rhyming to a few fixed schemes (but sometimes not), the sonnet has for 700 years allowed poets to redesign a small but infinite room.

Album: Headless Heroes, The Silence of Love, (Names Records)

With an under-loved folk singer (Alela Diane), a bunch of top-notch musos (Joey Waronker, Josh Klinghoffer, etc) and a covers album full of lost classics and obscure gems, what could possibly go wrong?

Album: Camille, Music Hole (Charisma)

The French pop experimentalist's latest won't make new converts but if the vocalised rhythm-generating of 'Le Fil' made you smile, it's this trick which gets moved centre-stage here, with traditional instruments playing only a minimal role.

Album: Dawn Landes

Fireproof, FARGO
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