XO was the album where Smith started broadening his musical palette from his lo-fi beginnings. Similarly, ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ starts in a quiet, acoustic style before blowing up at its midpoint into a fully orchestrated coda.
The Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy released her celebrated debut album, Rockferry, in 2008, with her throwback style prompting comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Dusty Springfield. The album won a Grammy for Best Pop Album and sold more copies than any other record in the UK that year (it was fourth worldwide).
Here’s a track from Wilco’s sophomore album, 1996’s Being There. This two-disc album was the alt-country band’s first foray into the more experimental sounds for which they would receive widespread acclaim in later years.
A double album loosely based on the relationship between musicians and their fans, Being There features some straightforward bops alongside fascinating sonic detours.
‘Country Road’ reached the top 40 at #37, while the album’s first single, ‘Fire and Rain,’ made it all the way to #3. The album was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy but lost to Simon & Garfunkel’s final studio release, Bridge Over Troubled Water.
‘Colors’ is the third single from Halsey’s debut album Badlands, released in 2015. Since then Halsey has become a pretty big deal, releasing nine Top 20 singles, five of which reached the Top 10 and two of which hit #1.
My older daughter has been on the Halsey train since before this album dropped. I’m half a fan through osmosis, though I’ve never really been grabbed enough by her music to listen to either of her albums all the way through.
Just the other day I proposed a theme week on Billy Joel songs that would make good fodder for a Netflix anthology show. And she serves up ‘Half a Mile Away,’ a very strong candidate. With street smart characters like Little Geo and Angelina circling our restless narrator, this song could make for a great little New York-set character sketch.
This cover of Al Green’s ‘Take Me to the River’ was the top single from Talking Heads’ 1978 sophomore album More Songs About Buildings and Food (I love that title!).
The song hit #26 on the singles chart, making it their third best performer ever, behind ‘Burning Down the House’ and ‘Wild Wild Life.’ The band also released a terrific live version of ‘Take Me to the River’ on their 1984 concert album/movie Stop Making Sense.