4 July 2019

5 Music Albums to Raise Your Spirits



I know everyone loves a mixed playlist - and I do too - but sometimes it's nice to sit down and listen to a whole album from beginning to end, going on the artist's intended journey. Music is medicine, especially when listened to intentionally in this way. For me, it plays a huge part in my creativity, sense of self and overall wellbeing.

Here are five recent favourites that help me connect and unwind.

FOR THE MORNING
JOOMANJI - MANJ (2013)

Joomanji is a collective of musicians - this is their first album - spanning hip hop, soul and jazz. It's a mixture of recorded instrumentals and sampling; in their words, "a unique mix of crisp horns, smooth vocals, and groovy vinyl samples with drums and bass you'll never forget". This album is soothing and mellow,  tapping into a really peaceful space for me. A nice one to accompany your cup of tea in the morning.

FOR TRAVELLING
BEN HOWARD - I FORGET WHERE WE WERE (2014)

Ben Howard's part folk, part indie sounds are pretty distinguishable, and actually, all of his albums are lovely. His soft, evocative voice and moody guitar riffs paint pictures of nature in my head - forests, rivers, mountains. I love listening to this while travelling; on a bus or train. Basically, when I want to just zone out and watch the world go by.

FOR FOCUS & CREATIVITY
FOUR TET - NEW ENERGY (2017)

This is the first of Four Tet's albums I've ever listened to, and I found myself playing it on repeat for a few weeks. It's electronic: he loops and weaves a complex mix of sounds and beats (using famously minimal equipment). This album is a contemplative and uplifting journey; it starts slow and then builds up in pace to an almost trance-y peak. But all the way through, there's this feeling of hope, of new possibilities, of aliveness. This album is great for focusing and getting the creative juices flowing.

FOR UNWINDING
YUSSEF KAMAAL - BLACK FOCUS (2016)

I'm a big jazz fan, and this is a great introduction to the South London scene that I started to become aware of a couple of years ago. Yussef Kamaal, as a group, is no longer - the musicians are doing their own thing now - but the brief moment in time they collaborated on this project was a special one. The rhythms - slower in places but more upbeat in others - jazzy guitar riffs and epic solos will take you on an unforgettable journey. It's a great album for the evening, to cool down after the day that's passed.

FOR GROOVE
D'ANGELO - BLACK MESSIAH (2014)

D'Angelo is a soul and r&b legend, and this was the first of his albums I discovered. If you like this kind of music, D'Angelo is unmissable. His album Brown Sugar is probably his best known, so also a good place to start. Using funky riffs, juicy beats and an epic, soulful voice, he creates a unique and irresistible sound. I love listening to this if I just want something groovy. It feels a bit like a massage for the soul!
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