As violent demonstrations roil Hong Kong, a bold group of volunteers is providing moral support and physical protection for young protesters
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
As a lyricist, this virally popular teen has nothing to teach anyone who doesn’t already know that fear of global warming has largely replaced the fear of God among today’s youth (“All the Good Girls Go to Hell”) or that spurned girls sometimes seek succor in twisted fantasies (“Wish You Were Gay”). But as a sound sculptress, she has hit upon a way forward. Whether devised by her or her producer-brother Finneas O’Connell, almost none of the electronic filters through which she coos sound anything like Auto-Tune.
Father of The Bride
“Flower Moon” could slip unnoticed onto Paul Simon’s Graceland, so fluently do its polyrhythms and lilting melodies buoy Ezra Koenig’s boyishly downy vocals toward significance. In general, though, Koenig has so subsumed his wide-ranging pop influences that few if any of them draw undue attention to themselves. The result is a lengthy and uncommonly lively long-player that peaks more often than it flags and whose philosophical parameters do not exclude cultural Christianity as a fact of life. Can you say Album of the Year?
Where the Action Is (Deluxe Edition)
Unlike the alternate versions in most “deluxe editions,” the 11 on this album’s second disc could shift units on their own. They’re certainly as imaginative production-wise as their Disc 1 counterparts, shading from pedal-to-the-metal soul (the title track) to mystical folk (the Kenneth Grahame recitation) and back again. It’s those counterparts, however, that keep Mike Scott’s lyrics front and center. And whether he’s paying tribute to Mick Jones or planting his feet “on a rock that wasn’t made by hands,” Scott clearly means business.
The Hurting Kind
John Paul White
Blame “The Good Old Days,” a challenge to bitter clingers everywhere, on the increasingly frequent tendency of musicians to wear their “wokeness” on their sleeve lest they be suspected of populist dog whistling. Then savor the other nine songs: for their insights into love’s little (and not so little) ups and downs, their timeless country-folk melodies, and their compatibility with White’s one-for-the-ages voice and its unassuming approximations of Orbisonian grandeur. What’s so good about the good old days, John Paul? Music like yours.
Because the CCM rocker-turned-neo-folkie Joy Williams has remained prudently tight-lipped about the breakup of her musical partnership with John Paul White and, more recently, her marriage, there’s no reason to assume that she’s spilling beans on her poignant new album, Front Porch (Sensibility), either. With their authenticity-signaling mandolins, pedal-steel guitars, and dobros, “When Does a Heart Move On” and “The Trouble With Wanting” may sound like the unvarnished truth. But then the songs about the enduring nature of genuine love sound like unvarnished truth too. And they outnumber the other kind.
“No Place Like You,” “Look How Far We’ve Come,” “Be With You,” “When Creation Was Young,” “One and Only”—Williams leans into each like a true believer. As to whether she still considers herself a capital-B believer, there’s “Preacher’s Daughter.” It’s a love song to her late father and a testament to the phenomenon of apples not falling far from the tree. —A.O.