Now Hear This
Lizzie No’s new album, Halfsies, finds No situated among her peers while still searching for freedom — freedom from the constraints of categorization, sure, but more importantly, freedom from the depths of her own personal despair and from an increasingly violent and nightmarish American cultural and political landscape.
On Halfsies, No’s writing is beautifully intricate, the personal and the political folding into each other as naturally as the patchwork of influences that inform the album’s twelve tracks. From the desolation and loneliness of “The Heartbreak Store,” to the roadworn rock of “Annie Oakley,” to the sprawling mid-apocalyptic yearning of “Babylon,” No’s writing throughout the record serves as a living conversation with her influences — not just musical but literary — reflecting her reverence for a host of the great voices who came before her, from Lucinda Williams to Toni Morrison, and her search for a connection between them.
The collection of collaborators on Halfsies gives the album a sense of community; of voices raised together in a call to arms. That synthesis of personal and political courses through Halfsies, No’s identity as a songwriter owing as much to her musical influences as it does to her activism (an outspoken activist and civil rights advocate, No was recently named President of the Abortion Care of Tennessee Board of Directors).
Toni Cade Bambara said, “the role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible,” and with Halfsies, Lizzie No aims to do just that.
Cloudward is the new release by Brooklyn-based guitarist, composer, and MacArthur fellow Mary Halvorson. The album features eight new compositions by Halvorson, performed with her sextet Amaryllis; the improvisatory band that performed on her critically praised 2022 albums Amaryllis and Belladonna comprises Halvorson, Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Jacob Garchik (trombone), and Adam O’Farrill (trumpet). Labelmate Laurie Anderson also is featured on the album track “Incarnadine.” The dual 2022 releases’ acclaim included being named Jazz Album of the Year in DownBeat’s annual Critics Poll. Halvorson and the ensemble will tour internationally following the Cloudward release, including February and March dates in Maryland and New York, as well as at the Big Ears Festival as part of Nonesuch’s 60th anniversary celebration.
“All the music on Cloudward was written in 2022, mostly in the fall and winter, when things started moving forward. Life felt like a creaky machine starting up again,” Halvorson says. “Air travel, however chaotic, had resumed, and we were once again cloudward. Performances and tours and recordings were happening after a long hiatus and with a renewed sense of gratitude. This band, for me, was quite simply working, both musically and personally, and the main thing I felt while writing the music was optimism.”
Maddie’s 2022 EP, You Might Not Like Her, marked the end of a chapter for Maddie at the same time it marked a beginning for her fans, a teeter-totter of an experience for the singer-songwriter who, at the time of its release, had moved on to writing a new body of work about a new chapter in her life. Having left behind the Boise church community where she long served as a worship leader to move to Los Angeles where she came out as queer and explored what that meant to her for the first tangible time, inspiration was flowing at a moment when some of her most meaningful songs were bringing her back to the past she’d left behind. “It was such a weird whiplash to see people connecting with those songs on such a deep and meaningful level knowing that I’d already processed everything within them months and months ago,” she says. “It was like everyone listening to the songs I was performing was 12 months behind my own healing process – and it was even wilder performing them knowing that I had so many more, newer stories I was just waiting to be able to share.”
Now That I’ve Been Honest lays bare those stories in chronological order, a raw, triumphant, honest and refreshing personal story in her debut album that signals the arrival of one of music’s most important new voices. As sonically textured and layered a debut you’ll find, Now That I’ve Been Honest professes to be a coming-of-age story detailing Maddie’s life since moving to Los Angeles, while continuing to build upon the sound foundation of her early work and the community she’s created and fostered in her music. “The EP was me in a lot of ways deconstructing who I was,” she says. “The album is me saying, ‘Well, now that we've gotten that taken care of…’” The digital album was released October 20th.
Mellow War is Taylor McCall’s 2nd studio album and first production project. This album was co-produced by Taylor McCall and Sean McConnell. This album features Taylor’s late grandfather during his days in Vietnam on the cover as well as the intro track, “Sinking Sand”, from his days as a pastor. His mother also is singing in the choir. Mellow War explores the balance of good and evil, destruction and healing and the importance of having faith in the darkest of times.
20th anniversary album of all new material, including a new original song, by globally renowned classical crossover group Il Divo. First album with new member Steven LaBrie, after the passing of founding member Carlos Marin in 2020.
Il Divo takes flight in 2024 with their 10th full-length album, “XX.” Once again, they leap forward creatively, expanding the style and vision all at once.
“The album really has a sound to it,” Sébastien goes on. “It’s exciting to hear where we’re going. It’s Il Divo, but it’s the next chapter.”
“There’s something magical about how we did the tour in 2022, became close friends, and are making music together,” Steven elaborates. “It’s incredible.”
A new dawn for Il Divo begins now.
“For me, music is more than entertainment,” says David. “It separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. The human voice is capable of things that everyone in an audience can vibrationally relate to. We have all been through sadness and happiness. Il Divo translates extreme emotions into a modern experience of humanity. This isn’t background music. We’re vibrationally mirroring how you might feel and enabling catharsis to happen. We want this to continue as long as we can. As long as we have breath and are able to do what we do at the level we do it, that's all we want. We want to create windows of transformation for anybody who's willing to listen.”
“Everything we do is for the audience,” Sebastien states. “Carlos will always be in our hearts. We’re sharing as many moments of joy as we can on stage. It’s a gift when what we do connects with anybody. For us, it’s not about receiving, but about giving and being of service to others. There’s nothing more powerful.”
“After losing a brother and living through so much over 20 years, Il Divo and our music are not a smidge tired,” Urs leaves off. “Il Divo has not lost any bit of its right to exist, with its potential and possibility to make beautiful, emotive, strong, and very high quality music. These are the most important things to me—Il Divo is here after 20 years, and Il Divo is here to stay.”