Incredible female artists take over our May music roundup, offering a stirring mixture of old and new, happy and sad, carefree and solemn. Happy listening!  

Turn Up the Quiet 

by Diana Krall 

The latest record from “the queen of jazz” Diana Krall is a nifty collection of jazz standards, offering a nostalgic throwback to the snazzy old sounds of the 40s and 50s. Krall’s delivery is comfortingly traditional: joyful and in-the-moment, yet assured and expertly controlled. Her characteristically husky vocals—though sensual and sultry—maintain a laid-back coolness channelling Sinatra-style swagger.

Turn Up the Quiet is a title that sets the tone perfectly for this album: the instrumentation here is low-key and sparing: every double bass note and every snare brush has its own special purpose, aiming to accentuate and play off Krall’s bewitching performance. Her take on the Cumbia classic “Sway” is an absolute showstopper: slow, dramatic and sexy, it allows every sound—from a quiver of a lip to a click of the tongue—to take the spotlight. An absolute must for any fan of swanky pre-bop and smoky shoebox jazz clubs.  

 

Slør 

by Eivør

Put together some folk-inspired, resonant vocals, the ethereal charm of the Faroe Islands and a hefty hit of self-confidence and you’ll get Eivør—the high-spirited, Copenhagen-based Faroese artist. Though Slør is her UK debut, she’s been a prominent figure on the Scandinavian music scene for some 16 years now.

Slør, her first English-language record, encapsulates uncharted territory where the elemental sounds of oceans, winds and storms are translated into nervy electronica via synthesizer licks and peculiar sampling, such as the sound of heels clicking on wooden floors. It’s an inventive, idiosyncratic work that’ll most likely inspire a rummage through your favourite old Björk and Portishead albums. 

 

Pollinator 

By Blondie 

Blondie fans rejoice: the latest record from one of the most influential bands of our time is everything that you love about their unique, high-energy mix of rock and pop.

Debbie Harry’s classic, rough vocals, the shimmering synthesizers and bouncy, disco-inspired melodies are supported here by a number of very special guests, each bringing their own trademark flavour into the mix. There’s TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek on the funky lead single “Fun”, chart queen Sia on the upbeat “Best Day Ever”, the ever-smooth Blood Orange on the irresistibly catchy “Long Time” and many other chart-topping giants.

It’s an immensely satisfying, happy party record which sounds nothing short of the band’s ground-breaking hits of the 1970s.

Read more: Debbie Harry: A life in pictures 

 

Pools of Light 

by Jessica Moss 

Jessica Moss is best known as the violinist and co-composer of cult post-punk band Silver Mt Zion as well as the avant-klezmer group Black Ox Orkestar. She's now released her incredible first full-length solo album, proving to be an uncompromisingly unique and inventive artist. 

If you’re tired of whatever you’re listening to at the moment and have a penchant for all things dark and eerie, Pools of Light will definitely hit the spot.

A skilled violinist, Moss lets the instrument take the floor alongside distorted vocals in a haunting, horror movie-like symphony of loops, distortions and synthesizers. The epic chants segue into each other, creating a mantric, hypnotising experience that’ll both bewitch and terrify you.

 

Knows Time, Knows Change 

by Daphne's Flight 

The five talented, influential singers that make up Daphne’s Flight, return with their second album, reuniting after 20 years, and it’s a stunning, folky treat. Drawing upon extremely varied influences, including jazz, pop, blues and folk, Knows Time, Knows Change is an eloquent, beautifully arranged collection of songs defined by pin-sharp, glorious harmonies.

The singers take turns providing the lead vocals and each brings an individual touch to every composition, making them as varied and versatile as the women themselves. There’s the solemn opening piece "Lay Follow", the uplifting "Count Me In" or the thoughtful musing on Brexit called "Split", ending on the plaintive yet defiant, repeated line: “This is not my England”—a weary voice reflecting on the politically turbulent times we're going through as a country. It’s a beautiful, eclectic collection brimming with joy and pleasure—a sign of the musicians' evident love for what they do.

 

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