While Post Malone (real name Austin) might continue to dominate the singles chart, the more interesting stuff is (as is increasingly the case) to be found away from the top 40.
If you hanker for the days when Taylor Swift just made inoffensive country-infused pop music, then you’re in for a treat once you discover the breezy sound of Kelsea Ballerini. Her second album Unapologetically is out now and it’s a solid collection of MOR country with a handful of enormous choruses.
Single Unapologetically is probably the highlight here, and while it couldn’t be less visionary or original, Ballerini does what she does pretty well.
I’ve been a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson for years now and the former American Idol star is now on her eighth album. Sadly, The Meaning Of Life is the first time that I’ve been totally underwhelmed by a Clarkson record, and that’s despite the fact that lead single Love So Soft has grown on me over recent weeks.
She gets her lungs around a couple of decent ballads here – check out I Don’t Think About You – but I’m not a fan of the direction she has taken here. It doesn’t matter though, as Christmas is nearly here and so I can get the brilliant Wrapped In Red out for another year.
I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be recommending any album closely associated with Russell Crowe, but his new collective Indoor Garden Party have a record out, and while it’s not wall-to-wall brilliant it certainly has its moments.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the moments where Crowe relinquishes lead vocal duties that are the highights. Single Out Of Range is a really solid power ballad, and Samantha Barks (off of Les Miserables has a superb voice.
Some of the record sounds like Crowe doing rabble-rousing Australian drinking songs, but overall it’s certainly got enough going for it to be worth a listen.
Erik Jonasson’s debut single Like A Funeral was so good that I honestly didn’t think he’d ever be able to hit those heights. Then, along came Autumn Falls – one of my singles of 2016 – and now Jonasson is back with a new single. I’m not sure Those Words ever quite reaches the brilliance of his previous releases, but I love it and I cannot wait for a full album to finally emerge.
I’m a massive fan of singer/songwriter Frances and she’s teamed up with Grey on their new single Room 101. It seems like a gentle ballad but gets really interesting towards the end thanks to some amazing production. A real grower, this one.
Tom Chaplin is joining the Christmas album bandwagon this year, although there is hope as at least two-thirds of it is brand new material. Lead single Under A Million Lights is decent enough, even if it does sound like Keane hit Higher Than The Sun and is guilty of some rather Dr Seuss-esque rhymeage.
One of the best pop records of the last few months comes from Rae Morris ahead of her second album, due in February 2018. Do It is just the chirpiest and catchy single currently around, and if here upcoming record is half as good as this it promises to be a treat.
What about you? Like any of these? What have you been listening to?