by Sean Smith
Last year was a pretty good one when it came to new music. In 2014 we were treated to new albums from the likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and a whole slew of other great artists. With the new year in full swing, here are five artists who I am most looking forward to hearing new albums from in 2015.
5. Bob Dylan
The legendary Bob Dylan is set to release his 36th studio album titled Shadows In The Night this year. The new album will feature 10 tracks of Dylan performing lightly produced takes of Frank Sinatra songs. The album’s tracks were all recorded utilizing only a five piece band with minimal production. Dylan said of the recording process for his new album, “It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded.” The new Bob Dylan record is scheduled to be released on February 3rd.
4. Kanye West
Let me start by saying that I was not a big fan of Kanye’s 2013 album Yeezus. However, I am a big fan of his early discography. The last Kanye West album that I truly enjoyed was his 2008 effort 808s & Heartbreak. Although it was not the socially conscious type of record that made me first fall in love with his music, I thought the record was an honest and raw expression of himself. He showed a vulnerability on that record that I feel has been lacking ever since. But with the recent release of his latest song “Only One”, which production wise is very reminiscent of his 808s album, I am hopeful that his forthcoming untitled album will be less bravado and more honest . Perhaps with the birth of his daughter North, he can once again reconnect with that side of himself.
3. Lupe Fiasco
Since the release of his debut album Food & Liquor in 2006, Lupe Fiasco has never backed away from addressing socially relevant topics in his music. From “Daydreamin'” to “Dumb it Down” to “Words I Never Said”, Lupe Fiasco has never been afraid to voice his opinion on any number of controversial political and social issues. For this reason, he is the one current hip hop artist who I can honestly say I have enjoyed listening to each and every album in his discography. And with all the issues we are currently facing in our world today, I am very much looking forward to hearing his forthcoming album Tetsuo & Youth. The new album is expected to be released on January 20th.
Adele achieved a level of superstardom with the success of her 2011 album 21. The album was heavily influenced by the feelings of heartbreak and depression that the singer was feeling after a failed relationship. The success of 21 is due in large part to the way that Adele was able to express in a raw and authentic way the feelings that many of us have experienced after a failed romantic relationship. In one way or another, listeners were able to connect with the strong themes and feelings of that album. Some critics question whether or not Adele will be able to match the success of her last album now that she is no longer in that place of romantic despair. With the timeless voice that she possesses, I think she has that ability.
1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The hip hop duo of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis seemingly came out of nowhere when they achieved worldwide success with their independent album The Heist in 2012. I was first made aware of the album when a good friend of mine, Jonathan Broome, mentioned that I should check out the album around Christmas of 2012. I bought The Heist while doing some holiday shopping and was immediately blown away by the depth of the album’s content. The album was filled from start to finish with honest expression of self, as well as a level of social awareness that is largely lacking in much of today’s modern urban music. For my money, The Heist is the best hip hop album that I have purchased in the last decade, and I am hopeful that the much anticipated follow-up album will not disappoint. We haven’t heard much in terms of new music from Macklemore since the release of The Heist in 2012, but if his feature on Fences 2014 single “Arrows” is any sign, his new album will likely be just as honest and socially aware as I would like it to be.