Between The Cracks: Essential Releases You Need To Hear

With so much good music coming through thick and fast, it’s easy for a release to drop online and go overlooked. Each week we select new records, from across the musical soundscape, that require your attention. Happy listening – and don’t forget to hit the links and support the artists.

liv.e – Couldn’t Wait To Tell You

Dallas-based artist Liv.e steps thru and unveils her debut album Couldn’t Wait To Tell You. If you love R’n’B that dips its toes into jazz, nods its head to psychedelic soul music then you’re in for a real treat. Floating blissfully in her own little musical world liv.e explores themes of self-love, longing, growth, indecision and more across 20 vignettes that effortlessly flow into one another and offer a brief yet entertaining window of her life. The brilliant, ‘Lessons From My Mistakes… But I Lost Your Number’, is one of the standouts songs and perfectly sums up her style in a nutshell. This album will stay with me throughout the rest of the year.


KeiyaA – Forever, Ya Girl

I’m so happy to have finally sat down and listened to this beautifully arranged, perfectly executed, genre-hopping album from KeiyaA. Created in isolation but before the pandemic took its grip, Forever, Ya Girl feels like a record tailor-made for lonely days sat deep in thought and with messages of blackness and love for black culture running throughout this project resonates very deeply. ‘I Thot There Was One Wound in This House, There’s Two’, ‘Hvnli’, ‘Negus Poem 1 & 2’, ‘Nu World Burdens’, and ‘Every Nigga is a Star’ are just a few of many highlights. Oh and her reinterpretation of Prince’s ‘If You See Me’, restyled as ‘Do Yourself A Favor’ is inspired! Fingers crossed this incredible album gets pressed on vinyl.


Vex Ruffin – LiteAce Frequency

Vex Ruffin makes a swift return to Stones Throw with LiteAce Frequency. It’s only a few months since he treated us to his Emilio EP and he’s back and with another dose of 70s Manila sounds, Brazilian rhythms, Japanese funk, hip-hop and Pinoy soul. Its title comes from the name of the first car Ruffin’s family had after moving from Parañaque in the Philippines to Northridge, California, Toyota LiteAce. Hop in and take a smooth ride with LiteAce Frequency — it will guide you to the right path.


Nubya Garcia – Source

Award-winning jazz saxophonist, bandleader and composer Nubya Garcia recently dropped her highly anticipated debut album Source, and as expected – it’s a belter. The LP sees Garcia moving freely between jazz, soul, afro, house, reggae and beyond. Source also features an incredible cast of musicians that include Joe Armon-Jones (keys), Daniel Casimir (double bass) and Sam Jones (drums). There are also fleeting guest spots from Ms MAURICE, Cassie Kinoshi, Richie Seivwright, La Perla, and Akenya. Over the 12 tracks, Garcia showcases why she is held in such high regard and has become one of the most prominent musicians in the UK jazz scene. From the dazzling ebb and flow of opener’ Pace’ to the steamy dub overtones of the title track Garcia has crafted a work of stunning originality. Strongly recommended!


Tenderlonious – Quarantena

Quarantena is the new album by the prolific Tenderlonious. As the title suggests, the collection recorded was during the recent lockdown. With time on his hands and armed with a vast array of hardware collected over the years, the result is a wonderful low-key offering of sci-fi and fantasy films inspired music of meditative electronic soundscapes underpinned by jazz flourishes and lo-fi beats. Essential isolation meditations.


Bryony Jarman-Pinto – Fish Factory Sessions EP

If like me you’ve yet to catch Bryony Jarman-Pinto live but want a little taster of what to expect, then this five-song session EP should suffice. Last year the London-based talent released her debut ‘Cage and Aviary’ album to huge acclaim, and now she breathes new life into the collection with these reworkings. Alongside her band, she manages to vividly capture the intimacy you feel from a live show in these sessions. So turn off your phone, take your place in the crowd, tell the imaginary person behind you to shut the f**k up, and enjoy these sublime renditions.


Jon Hassell – Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) 

The latest masterpiece from music visionary Jon Hassell has arrived! Seeing Through Sound is Hassell’s follow-up to Listening To Pictures, released in 2018. It is the second part of his Pentimento series. The best two tracks’ Fearless’ and ‘Timeless’ both over 8 minutes in length, bookend the album, with those in-between kept short and sweet but are all still insanely good. More than 40 years after his first album as a bandleader and Hassell is still producing the future of ambient music, take a listen for yourself. Recommended.


J. Zunz – Hibiscus

Mexican artist J. Zunz aka Lorena Quintanilla draws inspirations from John Cage in new album Hibiscus. Exploring meditation and Buddhism, as well as artists including Sonia Delaunay, Lucio Fontana, Julio Le Parc, Duchamp, and futurism, expect an explosion of brooding electronics and trance-inducing drone. We had the opening track ‘Y’ on repeat ever since its release early last month. If you like Pye Corner Audio, Trees Speak and Peaking Lights then you must add this album to your collection. Headphones are mandatory! 


Heather Leigh – Glory Days

With a limited timeframe and armed with only the equipment in her apartment Heather Leigh has produced one of the best lockdown albums in the shape of Glory Days. Recorded back in April for Boomkat’s Documenting Sound series across its 30 minutes, the record blends into one beautiful mass of lo-fi folk, electronic meditations, birdsongs, ghostly vocal musings with a good helping of her trusty pedal steel guitar. With the vast majority of tracks under the three-minute mark, Leigh excels in small doses, and this diverse, and spontaneous offering features some of her most accessible work to date. Glory Days is a unique one-off piece, that marks an extraordinary moment in time.


Also in the Boomkat Documenting Sound series: 

Johnnie – Blue Hills

Felicia Atkinson – Echo


Yoh – Holographic

For those who enjoy hip hop music of a mellow disposition, this one by Yoh is for you. Subtle ambient electronics under the influence of jazz join as Yoh’s magnificently smooth and pinpoint rhymes give each track a warm melodic flow. The highlight for me is ‘Chevalier’, a brilliant snapshot of everything that makes Yoh so special – witty and reflective songwriting delivered with a rapid-fire flow soundtracked by ethereal atmospherics. Pure horizontal vibes, this new EP from Yoh is hopefully a little taste of even greater things to come.



Steam Down – Etcetera / Yasmin Lacey – I’ll Never Stop Loving You

The ongoing Blue Note Re:Imagined series of 7” vinyl releases keeps pace with two exceptional covers. The premise is simple young jazz cats, and soul talent interprets the works of legendary jazz artist from the label s back catalogue. The latest and my two favourite reimaginings so far come from Steam Down and Yazmin Lacy. The former with the help of Afronat Zu cover Wayne Shorter’s ‘Etcetera’, while Lacy takes on ‘I’ll Never Stop Loving You’ by Dodo Greene. 


CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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