Diana & Marvin
Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye
By the early '70s, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye were in completely different creative territories. Ross was settling down as a professional diva, while Gaye was pushing his art forward with What's Going On, Trouble Man, and Let's Get It On. What they shared, apart from a mutual admiration, was that they were two of the biggest artists on the Motown label. and that their voices sounded terrific together. So it wasn't entirely surprising that the duo teamed up in 1973 for the Diana & Marvin album. Although the album didn't produce any timeless classics, the results were still very good -- good enough for the record to be one of Ross' best efforts of the era.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
What seems to be an unlikely pairing of former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss is actually one of the most effortless-sounding duos in modern popular music. The bridge seems to be producer T-Bone Burnett and the band assembled for this outing: drummer Jay Bellerose, upright bassist Dennis Crouch, guitarists Marc Ribot and Burnett, with Greg Leisz playing steel here and there. Krauss, a monster fiddle player, only does so on two songs here and the proceedings are, predictably, very laid-back. These two voices meld together seamlessly; they will not be swallowed even when the production is bigger than the song. They don't soar, they don't roar, they simply sing songs that offer different shades of meaning as a result of this welcome collaboration.
Sheku & Isata Kanneh-Mason
Despite the Covid pandemic, the Kanneh-Mason siblings probably didn't have too much trouble finding the right partners to make music with. With Barber's Cello Sonata, Op. 6 from the 1930s as well as some arrangements of his songs, the two performers give us a wonderful insight into the still lesser-known repertoire. One quickly gets the impression that it was a great pleasure for both of them to discover the dramatic work and to get to know Barber down to the smallest detail. The highlight of the disc, however, is probably the Rachmaninoff recordings. Although Rachmaninoff did not stray too often into chamber music, Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason manage to elevate it to one of his supreme disciplines.
The Best Of Sonny & Cher
Sonny & Cher
When Sonny and Cher met by chance at a coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard, they could have never imagined the height of fame they would reach together. After being told that the American industry didn’t “get” them, the pair moved to London where the public could not get enough of their fur vests and striped bellbottoms. Soon their previously recorded hit I Got You Babe was sitting at number one on the Billboard charts, and by the end of the year, they had five songs in the Billboard Top 20. This album, the first-ever compilation from the iconic American pop duo was originally issued on vinyl in 1967 and reinforced the sublime work the pair did together at Atlantic/ATCO records.
Down The Way
Angus & Julia Stone
Only three years passed between the Stones’ debut and this follow-up record, but the siblings seemed to have aged exponentially in the interim. While 2007’s A Book Like This found the two setting their own adolescence to a soundtrack of acoustic guitars and sparse percussion, Down the Way is a decidedly adult album, filled with textured arrangements and a wider array of influences. Angus and Julia handle their own production this time around, and the resulting songs jump from panoramic chamber pop -- often with a rootsy, Americana edge -- to bedroom folk songs, with both members trading off vocals and instrumental duties. Julia still sings in a soft, fairy tale voice, but her own songs are bolder than they once were, with tracks like Hold On taking much of their strength from the contrast between her gauzy, childlike croon and the nocturnal-sounding instruments that surround it.
Love Is Here To Stay
Tony Bennett & Diana Krall with the Bill Charlap Trio
Two generations. Two styles. Two voices. And an album in common… For about twenty years, crooner Tony Bennett and singer and pianist Diana Krall had produced a few duos here and there, but never an entire album. With this Love Is Here To Stay, they jumped right in and involved another five-star duo in their enchanted parenthesis of refined vocal jazz: George and Ira Gershwin. They went digging through the vast repertoire of the most famous brothers of 20th American popular music to create this album that seems from another time, produced with the trio of impeccable pianist Bill Charlap, Peter Washington on the double bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Tackling the Great American Songbook is always a redeeming and almost necessary baptism of fire for any worthy jazz singer. The result is particularly touching. A great professional, Diana Krall adapted her singing to the New Yorker, turning their exchanges into endearing, slightly retro flirting. The 38 years between them become the main asset of an old-fashioned yet delightful album.