The Listening Cafe – And The Winner Is…

February 2, 2024 By Andy Ayer

TAYLOR SWIFT IS GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!!! (of music) I’m referring of course to the the Grammys. Specifically, who will win the Album of the Year this Sunday night Feb 4,2024. Each year I wait in anticipation of who will be nominated for this coveted accolade. If you are unfamiliar with this years nominees, they are as follows.

World Music Radio – Jon Baptiste
The Record – BoyGenuis
Endless Summer Vacation – Miley Cyrus
Did You Know Theres A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. – Lana Del Rey
Age Of Pleasure – Janelle Monae
GUTS – Olivia Rodrigo
Midnights – Taylor Swift

While they all deserved to be nominated, here are 3 that I think should have been in this conversation for 2023. Here they are in the order they were released

My 21st Century Blues – Raye
I started 2023 listening to a lot of Neo soul. It was when I was traveling down this rabbit hole discovering new artists to listen to is when I stumbled upon Raye. She had left Polydor records in the middle of 2021 as she had discovered that they were withholding her debut album. Tired of being on the back burner, she packed her bags and set out as an independent artist. She released a number singles and starting in June of 2022 and then in February 2023 that collection of songs became her debut album “My 21st Century Blues”. The opening track entitled “Introduction” was perfect as the story of a woman going through heartbreak.. Every single song (in the project) continues the tale, until you finally get the “Fin” the last track where she thanks you for listening to her tale. I felt the album was flawless,  until she released My 21st Century Symphony – Live at the Royal Albert hall with The Heritage Orchestra in October 2023. With reworking of the album with a live orchestra, it took the album to another level by elevating the emotional outpouring. I highly recommend listening to the studio album first and then listening to the live album to truly appreciate the difference.


How To Start A Garden – Nanna
You may not recognize the name Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir or Nanna, but you definitely recognize her voice. Since 2010 she has been one of the lead vocalists for the Icelandic indie folk band called “Of Monsters and Men”. I liken Nanna’s voice to Bjork’s during her Debut – Post album years. In January 2023 she released a single called “Godzilla” where should opens the song walking under the midnight sun in Iceland. She followed that release with another single “Crybaby” in February before announcing that her solo album “How To Start A Garden” would drop in May. The album is beautiful. As you listen to it with your eyes closed, the sound carries you through this ethereal landscape. You can almost see yourself wandering and pausing in the quiet magical garden it creates. The album for me was further enhanced when I got to see her perform that album live at the Sinclair in Harvard Square. It was the superb venue to see her perform her debut, as the intimacy of the album was even more apparent within its small room.


Echo The Diamond – Margaret Glaspy
After attending Berklee College of Music for one semester, Margaret Glaspy began playing around Boston briefly before heading to New York in 2010 at age of 21. She released an EP in 2012 and was signed to ATO Records in 2015. Echo the Diamonds is her third studio album which was released in August 2023. I was introduced to her music one day while looking for something with a bit of an edge to listen to on Pitchfork. Margaret gives you this edge at the opening riff on the first track “Act Natural” its like hanging out in dive bar with smell of cheap booze wafting through the air as everyone sways to the music. The album itself has a tone of grittiness and sarcasm throughout. She also performed at the Sinclair this past September and it is the only show I regret not going to this past year.


I hope you listen to Raye, Nanna and Margaret Glaspy’s albums mentioned in their entirety.

This week’s playlist entitled: And the winner is …. Includes a track from each of the grammy nominees and select tracks from the additional artists I discussed. Until next week – Andy

Playlist: AND THE WINNER IS…..

Andy currently runs a Facebook group with his “Palsy Walsy” Tim called “What Are You Listening to?”

You can also follow Andy on the following music platforms:
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