Every week, CKUA’s hosts submit their songs for our weekly House Blend playlist: an exciting new release, a beloved classic or just an old personal favourite. We mix it all together to create a sonic concoction that’ll help kick off your week. Check out what’s on this week’s playlist.
Orest Soltykevych: Azuline Duo, “Spanish Dances: #5 Andaluza”
Enrique Granados was a late 19th century Spanish composer and virtuoso pianist. And, like many composers of his era, Granados believed that a country should develop its own form and style of music based on its folk songs and dances. In 1890, he wrote 12 Danzas españolas (Spanish Dances) for piano, and this is an arrangement of one of them.
Bob Chelmick: Deb Talan, “I Wake In Joy”
To love this song, in no way depends upon knowing Deb Talan is a cancer survivor. The lyric is unsentimental, poetic and a little abstract. But the chorus is a straight forward acknowledgment of gratitude of one Lucky Girl, the album’s title.
Baba: Arcade Fire, “Baby Mine” from the soundtrack to Dumbo, 2019
It has been wonderful to watch Arcade Fire grow from obscurity to stardom and then on to soundtrack success. Good for them, good for our ears: lush, choral and complex.
Dianne Donovan: Al Green, “Let’s Stay Together”
One of the all-time, great soul songs: the elasticity of his voice, the gentle reigning in of emotions, the intimacy, the punctuating horn arrangements — what’s not to love? It only took 48 years but, last week, I finally got to hear Al Green perform it live. He still has the pipes!
Amy van Keeken: The Bobby Tenderloin Universe, “Cow Eyes”
It’s no secret that Paul Arnusch is a major Alberta talent. He can play ragtime piano — think Scott Joplin. He is a member of a slew of top notch Alberta bands, e.g., The Wet Secrets, The Allovers. He’s got a new project called The Bobby Tenderloin Universe. Their new single, “Cow Eyes”, is a lovely, slow-country croon with vocals as low as Lee Hazelwood and harmonies like Nancy Sinatra.
Cathy Ennis: Vampire Weekend, “Unbearably White”
Well, it’s been worth the wait! After nearly six years, Vampire Weekend has released their fourth creation. It’s called Father of the Bride, an awesome 18-track, double album with lots of great songs to choose from. After only a couple of listens, ‘Unbearably White’ gets my vote this week.
Lark Clark: Emma Stevens, “Blackbird”
Emma Stevens’ calm delivery of a familiar song in an unfamiliar language is the perfect vessel for acquainting us with her language: Mi’kmaq. A quiet beauty.
Roy Forbes: Frank Morgan with Abby Lincoln, “Ten Cents A Dance”
Strong stuff by saxophonist Frank Morgan, from his 1991 Antilles album, A Lovesome Thing. Abby Lincoln contributes a solid, world-weary vocal on this classic Rodgers and Hart song “in which a taxi dancer laments the hardships of her job”. The show tune was introduced by pop singer, Ruth Etting, in 1930. Ruth’s rendition of “Ten Cents A Dance” is well worth checking out. So, too, is Ella Fitzgerald’s interpretation, from her Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook LP, released in 1956.
Grant Stovel: Angelique Kidjo, “Cucala”
I’m not sure why I should continue to be surprised by Angelique Kidjo’s brilliance. I mean, she’s been making incredible records for close to four decades now! Nonetheless, I marvel at how her last two albums — both of them cover records — underline how amazing she is. Last year, she put out a re-interpretation of the Talking Head’s LP, Remain in Light. This month, her soulful new album, Celia, pays tribute to the late Cuban, salsa-music queen, Celia Cruz.
“Cucala” is one of Celia’s signature tunes. Angelique’s joyful re-imagination is the kick-off to this spicy and soulful new outing.
Lisa Wilton: The Avett Brothers, “Neapolitan Sky”
The loose harmonies of Seth and Scott Avett highlight this beautiful, easygoing, country shuffle. Although it sounds light and breezy, it’s still The Avett Brothers. So, of course, there has to be some melancholy attached. In this case, it’s the pain of lost love. Still, it’s one of the best tunes they’ve released in years.