Well that came around quickly didn’t it? Yes, another month, another playlist. For May 23 we’ve abandoned any sense of a theme, just picking a mix of music that keeps us coming back for more. Find the playlist on Spotify here, Qobuz here (minus track 3) and Tidal here. Happy listening

1. “Blackest Eyes” by Porcupine Tree from In Absentia

Classic Steve Wilson and Porcupine Tree. A quiet opening, a blast of anthemic chord sequences with some really tight playing on guitar. Back to acoustic guitar and voice. Repeat (sort of) twice. In the wrong hands it would be formulaic, in Porcupine Tree’s hands it blows the cobwebs away without being predictable. Best played at neighbour-annoying levels. Well some things have got to be haven’t they?!

2. “When My Anger Starts To Cry” by Beady Belle from Cewbeagappic

Founded and fronted by singer Beate Lech, Norwegian band Beady Belle ply the avantgarde jazz groove with some style. Each album is a little different, the direction of travel deliberately non-linear. Go with it and you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic playing from top-drawer artists. A musician friend of mine, no mean player himself, saw them live and reckoned they were up there with the best. That’s good enough for me.

3. “Standing On A Mountain” by John Taylor from The World’s Gone Mad

Not Duran Duran’s bassist. Nor the jazz pianist. This is John Taylor the singer songwriter, Chris Rea meets Jack Johnson, rootsy fayre. And lovely it is too. He’s a recent discovery for me so I’m dipping into his catalogue regularly. There’s nothing particularly unique about his style, just a slightly gruff voice singing catchy songs that make you want to hear more. His website’s worth a look (here), as is his FB page (here). Sounds like a decent bloke too. What more could you want?

4. “Woodstock” by David Crosby from Here If You Listen

Sometimes you just dont ‘get’ a particular musician. Neil Young falls squarely into that category for me, others adore his music. Until recently I had David Crosby in the same box. Then I played Here If You Listen and fell in love with the glorious harmonies. Maybe it’s the combination of young and old voices. Maybe it’s the arrangements. Whatever, grab a beer, sit back and revel in some glorious singing. Any track will do, the album is consistently strong. Time for me to dig into his back catalogue methinks.

5. “Out Of My Head” by First Aid Kit from Palomino

When you son comes back from Glastonbury ’22 saying First Aid Kit were the best act there then maybe it’s time to listen. Particularly as Paul McCartney was headlining (although “boring, longwinded speeches, we left early” was his verdict there!) I can’t comment on Macca. I  will say that First Aid Kit float my boat too, and this is a great starting point.

6. “Souvenir De Liege” by the Lux Nova Duo from Meeting Leo Brouwer

Lux Nova Duo is Peruvian guitarist Jorge Paz Verastegui and German accordionist Lydia Schmidl. Based in Hamburg, they’re a couple in real life too, perhaps explaining their sensitivity to each other’s playing. True, if the accordian turns you off then look away now (fair enough, clarinet does that to me). The other 50% of you might want to give this a spin though. Largely classical but with elements of jazz and folk, it’s beautifully crafted music. Intelligent in making you think, without being overly challenging (even if the rest of the album sometimes strays close to that territory). There’s no doubting the sublime playing though.