This week’s “Single Play” is quite the Boomers and Millennials mix. Poor Gen X, like the middle child they seem to be, they are absent from this list. But there’s always next week, huh. For now, it’s new music from Mira Aasma, Bob Dylan, Night Argent, and Paul Simon.
Mira Aasma, “Whale Song”
Lots of great music coming out of Sweden these days. Case in point is the latest single by 19-year-old Mira Aasma. Yeah, she’s 19. One listen at her booming voice and you’ll be either so impressed by what she’s able to create at such a young age, or curse yourself because maybe, like me at 19, was too busy growing your hair out to look like Prince in “Purple Rain.” Maybe Aasma is a bit like Prince when you think about it because she wrote, arranged, and produced all the songs on her soon to be released EP, Stereoscope. “Whale Song” is being compared to MS MR or London Grammar, but her music (and the production) is much, much fuller. Sure, her voice can have that smokey and ethereal feel, but it also has a range that shows there’s a lot more power in her pipes than who she’s being compared to.
Bob Dylan, “Melancholy Mood”
You gotta hand it to Dylan. Almost 75-years-old and the guy is still making music, touring, and refusing to fade away. And while his voice has always been an acquired taste, I don’t think he’s ever sounded so un-nasally as he does on this cover of “Melancholy Mood.” This song is part of a collection of covers he’ll be releasing on the album Fallen Angels on May 20th, and it’s clear Dylan is keen on busting out classics that both fit his style — and maybe challenge him a bit. For example, taking a song that Frank Sinatra made famous in 1939 is certainly a challenge, but Dylan’s vocals are so relaxed (as they are on the Sinatra version) that it just sort of washes over you in a satisfying way.
Night Argent, “Nothing More Beautiful” (Deconstructed Version)
When you see the names Coldplay, One Republic, or Imagine Dragons, you may think to yourself: “Pop music with alternative flourishes.” It’s certainly a genre that’s become a mainstay on the radio — which is why it’s probably a tough slog to get music heard from an up and coming band wedded to that tradition. Night Argent fits comfortably into the artists above, but with their reconfiguration of “Nothing More Beautiful” (a song the band released last year), it demonstrates Night Argent can revisit their music with a delicate and imaginative touch that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Paul Simon, “Wristband”
Like Dylan, Paul Simon isn’t going quietly into the night. Both musicians are the same age and both have made an indelible mark on pop music over the decades. Not everything they’ve touched has turned to gold, but enough of it has that they can do whatever they want at this stage of their careers. With Simon, he’s open to trying new things, and he does on “Wristband.” Lyrically, “Wristband” is a fairly straightforward narrative of a musician’s inability to get into his own concert — and later as a metaphor for the exclusion of whole swaths of people denied access to a better life. But musically, I love the soundscape he’s able to create with with the EDM group, Clap! Clap! So if “Wristband” if is a preview of what’s to come from the upcoming album, Stranger to Stranger, I think it’ll be another imaginative blend of new and old from Rhymin’ Simon.