July 8, 2009
The first time I heard Joan Armatrading, it was last year while watching an old episode of Saturday Night Live on DVD. She performed a song called “Love and Affection” that I quite liked, so I decided to find out more. I got a two-CD anthology from the library called, appropriately, Love and Affection, that covers 1975-1983, which seems to be widely considered Armatrading’s prime period. From there, I’ve gone on to listen to about half of her recorded output.
Armatrading is hard to pin down exactly. The constant that ties her work together is the subject of love – about ninety percent of her songs are about the good and bad of male-female relationships – and the emotions she is able to wring from that topic. But rather than seeming like a one-note performer, Armatrading creates music that is undeniably eclectic. On her earliest recordings and also in her recent work, the music sounds very folky and jazzy, sometimes bluesy. Other times it’s unashamedly pop-rock. Usually it bears a Caribbean influence, and sometimes it’s straight-up reggae.
More on Joan Armatrading
Chris Brown Defends Himself on YouTube [NME]
Gaga On Cover of Rolling Stone, Claims to Not Be Like Other Pop Stars [Rolling Stone]
New Stuff from YACHT [Stereogum]
Lord of the Rings, Movie and Music at Radio City Music Hall [Brooklyn Vegan]
Micachu and The Shapes Returning for U.S. Tour [The Tripwire]
Eminem Tops 2009 Record Sales [NME]
Brooklyn Youth Chorus Backing Grizzly Bear (and A Load of Other Appearances) [Brooklyn Vegan]
Berry Gordy, James Taylor Added to Songwriters Hall of Fame [NME]
compiled by Elana Jacobs