There were a ton of albums released this summer and fall that I haven’t gotten around to commenting on yet, so I bring to you this Music Mix Megapost featuring five standouts that I felt deserved a shoutout before the year comes to an end…
Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest
Released in July, The Blessed Unrest is Sara’s most personal, emotional, and powerful record to date. The singer-songwriter’s artistic vulnerability led to her first Grammy nomination for Album of the Year (along with a nod for Best Pop Solo Performance for her song, “Brave“). It is a blessing indeed to see Sara receiving the recognition and appreciation she so deserves. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to her best project yet, now is a great time to start – one of the highlights is “Manhattan“, a piano ballad about a love torn apart by long distance. This fall, Sara released a Live DVD/CD from her acoustic solo Brave Enough Tour, which includes this amazing version of “Love On The Rocks / Bennie and the Jets“.
Gavin DeGraw – Make a Move
Gavin is another piano-playing singer-songwriter Grammy nominee (for his duet with Colbie Caillat, “We Both Know“, from the film, Safe Haven) who released a new album in the latter half of this year. On Make a Move, he experiments with new sounds influenced by current pop-rock hits while maintaining his signature soulful style. Among the best from the record are the lead single, “Best I Ever Had“, the title track, “Make a Move“, “Who’s Gonna Save Us“, and my favourite song, the inspirational ballad, “Everything Will Change“.
Erika Van Pelt – My Independence
American Idol Season 11’s Erika boldly declares her independent nature with her self-produced debut album, My Independence. The collection of songs are a reflection of the singer’s eclectic sound (a mix of pop, dance, R&B, and everything in-between) and her penchant for empowering confidence-boosters and honest, heartfelt lyrics. Her current single, the booming ballad “Hurricane” (music video featured below) is the follow up to her first single, the upbeat uptempo “Listen, Learn, Then Delete“. If you attended the Idol Tour in 2012, you will be delighted to find a studio recorded version of her showstopping solo number, P!nk’s “Glitter in the Air“.
Little Mix – Salute
The four ladies from this girl group got their start as the winners of The X Factor UK Season 8 and made it big with their hit single, “Wings” (from their debut album, DNA). Their sophomore effort, the harmonious, hot, and hip-pop heavy Salute, is packed with even more contagious girl power anthems, packed with double the fire and double the fierceness! Just listen to the first song, the title track “Salute“, and you’ll find yourself enlisting as the new recruit for their mission to find and empower warrior women. Expect to witness Little Mix takeover America when their album is officially released in North America in February 2014 and they embark on their tour in the Americas with Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony, and Cher Lloyd next Winter/Spring.
Ariana Grande – Yours Truly
Prior to the American Music Awards, I wasn’t all too familiar with Ariana Grande. I listened to her hit single, “The Way” on the radio throughout the summer and heard everyone’s high praises for her vocal abilities (Mini Mariah – the compliment of all compliments), but she didn’t capture my attention just yet. After watching her AMAs performance of “Tattooed Heart“, I can finally attest to the fact that this little lady can saaang! The retro tune was reminiscent of the 1950s ballads of love and longing that are so near and dear to my heart, and I absolutely fell for it. Upon listening to her debut album, Yours Truly, which is filled with even more throwback sounds, particularly that of 1990s R&B/Pop, I totally agree that she deserved to win the coveted AMAs Favourite New Artist of the Year award!