Mixtape Mondays | Piano Tapes

Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

When I heard Tom Odell's second album I had mixed feelings. My first thought was "where's the piano?". However, after a second listen I could eventually spot - between very complex arrangements - the moments of brilliance which made me fall in love with Long Way Down. But it was hard work.

Seeing him live a couple of months ago confirmed it. The material was once more outstanding and he was indeed careful to pick a band big enough for it. But I was no more in love with him. His debut album had me at the simplicity of his piano and at how I could hear emotion resonating from its strings, but Wrong Crowd did not have the same effect on me. Well, that was until East 1st Street Piano Tapes was released earlier this month. I can't stress enough how over the moon I am this was made available. It is perfection. And it is there to remind us great music can only benefit from the rawness of stripped back versions.  

Do listen to the full East 1st Street Piano Tapes by Tom Odell, I cannot fault it. Stunning record of a record in the making

These demos inspired me so much I thought of putting together a playlist with some of my favourite piano tracks and a few recently found gems. It includes Sinking Ship, I dare say my favourite Seafret song - which did not make the album, but it is available as part of Oceans EP - and Dan Owen's latest release Made To Love You, which I could not in a million years foresee becoming a piano led arrangement. 

They are followed by two of my favourite female vocals, Regina Spektor and Russian Red, here represented by Samson and The Memory is Cruel, both beautiful and sad tunes I've once could not stop playing on repeat. The same could be said to Damien Rice's albums O and 9, but how not to fall in love with not only the piano, but the violin and vocals in 9 Crimes?

On the new found front we have the likes of Lancashire duo Aquilo with a live version of Almost Over, an acoustic take of I Found by the Nottingham lads of Amber Run and Cambridge born Kyan's stunning Sometimes

From Tom Odell's first album we've Heal, followed by London Grammar's Help and some cheeky almost classics. Who doesn't remember Alicia Key's live performance of Empire State of Mind - it takes me back to good old times of MTV unplugged albums although it was definitely released a decade later than most of those. And in the sequence there is still space for Nina Simone, Coldplay - every so often I remember something they did worth a mention - Sam Smith with an acoustic version of Latch, Faith No More because when we think piano Easy needs to feature, a version of Rihanna's Stay by Thirty Second To Mars which you may have heard in this blog before and two of my favourites famous for making indie piano driven records, Keane and Kate Nash.