There are three newly released albums that cannot be ignored. Music has been that golden thread between sanity and desperation for centuries, but in recent history, never so important as these past two years. My goodness, I can’t believe I’m referring to lockdown and the pandemic in terms of years now, no longer days, weeks or months like in beginning. Let us remember that all industries and careers were deeply affected during this time, and for some it has proven to be a very creative time, while for others it was a forced hand.
ABBA – Voyage
Released on November 2021, ABBA’s Voyage was out to prove that they still have it, and that 40 years dormancy would not tarnish their stars. If you belong to my generation who basically grew up with the iconic Swedish group in the 70s, the music was part of your life, social interaction, entertainment, and travel. It was about the time when the first clunky Sony Walkmans emerged, so you were plugged into them in very which way. I was 10 years old when my father introduced me to ABBA and the first song that got me hooked was Chiquitita. It wen’t downhill from there and I was hooked, and especially during my high school years when The Winner Takes It All broke was part of my first broken heart.
Decades later the whole Mamma Mia circus began long after the band disbanded, and ABBA was re-introduced to the younger generation as a hip contemporary soundtrack, whose songs were butchered by brilliant actors who really had no business singing. But the legend lived on. So it was with great anticipation that the world awaited the comeback album, summarily ignoring the fact that the two lead singers were indeed much older than everyone remembered them.
Voyage is a valiant attempt to resuscitate past glory. My skin crawled when I first listened to the album, not in awe but in horror. I failed to understand the intended concept and the logic behind such a peculiar eclectic mix of songs that don’t have an iota of the signature ABBA sound that we have loved for decades. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I listened to the album a second and even third time in the hope that my first impression could be replaced by something kinder. Alas. Voyage is an outerspace expedition that went horribly wrong. It’s fine if you have Apple Music and can download it and then erase the album again. I cannot for the the life of me agree with all the hype and praise there, and have set up camp with the other bloggers who disliked it as much as I did.
Adele – 30
If you launch into Adele’s emotional album 30 expecting something similar to 25 you will be horribly disappointed. For this particular album you need to keep an open mind, understand that it is a cathartic set of songs that work through heartbreak, depression, anxiety, divorce and loss. For those of who have been through it, the album is like a bucket of cold water that awakens the entire gamut of emotions that separation and divorce bring up. Unlike the ABBA album, Adele’s 30 cannot be played on shuffle because then you lose the entire thread.
I have to admit that I didn’t like it the first time around. The single that was launched a couple of weeks before the album Take It Easy on Me set the tone brilliantly, and eases you gently into the emotional shitstorm that the entire album is. It took me three listens to get comfortable with it and not relive my own tumultuous journey through divorce and depression, but once I did and got used to the very different approach to Adele’s music, then it is quite the experience. Try not to compare it to 20 or 25, because it is unfair to do so, and quite frankly it’s apples and grapes, not even oranges.
Sir Elton John – The Lockdown Sessions
Like ABBA, Elton John was very much a part of my childhood and youth as well. Unlike ABBA, Sir Elton transitioned into the subsequent years quite elegantly by being a pillar behind iconic Disney music, not to mention the unforgettable tribute to Princess Diana during her funeral.
Launched in April 2021, The Lockdown Sessions is absolutely brilliant! It catapults the shrill and hyper Elton John of the 70s and the Disney soundtrack mastermind of the 90s right smack into 2021, leaving your head spinning in fascination. His voice is obviously older, huskier, oh but the collection of songs performed in tandem with other artists during lockdown is exquisite. My two favourites are Chosen Family with Rina Sawayama and Beauty in the Bones with Jimmy Allen. Here is the video of Chosen Family – my beloved Soul Siblings, this is our anthem!
and here is Beauty in the Bones