THE BEST JJJJJEROME ELLIS MUSIC OF 2021


JJJJ Jerome Ellis is a disabled black animal, stutterer and artist. His album and his book The meadow were published last month by the Poetry Project, NNA Tapes and Wendy’s Subway.

1
EMILY RICE, MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE I AM LONDON (First artist recordings)
I was grateful to see Rice, who is best known as an emotionally skilled score composer for television and film, shift her musical focus to her debut album.


From The HawtPlates' Make Me Down visual EP: Songs To Bring It To Life By The HawtPlates, 2021. Justin Hicks, Jade Hicks and Kenita Miller-Hicks.

2
THE HAWTPLATES, MAKE ME DOWN: SONGS TO MAKE IT ALIVE (4Be)
On this EP, The HawtPlates – a performance trio formed by family members Jade Hicks, Justin Hicks and Kenita Miller-Hicks – “give the idea,” in their words, “that sometimes songs are meant for us. move forward.


Lucy Dacus, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, February 24, 2021. Photo: Ebru Yilkiz.

3
LUCY DACUS, HOME VIDEO (Matador)
On my favorite track from his third album, “Triple Dog Dare”, lasting almost eight minutes, Dacus patiently tells a childhood story through indelible images and a perfect melody.


Mabe Fratti, Guatemala City, February 2021. Photo: Kevin Frank.

4
MABE FRATTI, SERÁ QUE AHORA PODREMOS ENTENDERNOS (WILL WE BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND OURSELVES NOW) (Unheard of Hope)
Guatemalan-born cellist, singer, producer and songwriter Fratti wrote this album while in quarantine in La Orduña, an artist complex outside of Mexico City. I particularly like “In Media, a song that rocks me in more than one sense!


Omar Sosa, desert near Doha, Qatar, January 2014. Photo: Cissy van der Meer / Amara Photos.

5
OMAR SOSA, A TRIP TO EAST AFRICA (Ota)
In 2009, Omar Sosa recorded with local musicians on a tour that started in Madagascar and continued in Zambia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi, Kenya and finally Mauritius. He and his collaborators then edited these recordings for twelve years, creating an album with the richness and flavor of a slowly brewed stew.

6
MÚSICA SOÑADA, RADIO NACIONALE FROM SPAIN
My friend James Harrison Monaco, translator from Spanish and Italian, suggests “Dreamed Music” or “Music for Dreaming” as possible translations of the title of this weekly radio show. Host Sergio Pagán weaves poetry, early European music history, and ornithological reflections into an addictive and idiosyncratic listening experience.

7
SINIKKA LANGELAND, WOLF RUNE (GUY)
The debut solo album by this Norwegian music veteran and kantele player is packed with sensitive and imaginative performances, including “When I was the Forest”, which sets to music a poem by 13th-century medieval mystic Meister Eckhart.

8
CLOUD SON, NOTES TO SELF (self-published)
Jonathan Seale was nicknamed “Son of Cloud” as a child by the indigenous Yukpa tribe of Venezuela. He said of this album, “Complete every song. . . I felt like putting a piece of my pain on a small sailboat and gently releasing it off.

9
STARR BUSBY, 9 MOON CUPS (self-published)
A phrase from Saidiya Hartman aptly describes Starr Busby’s songs: “experiment with freedom”.


Yasmin Williams at the Newport Folk Festival, Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI, July 24, 2021. Photo: Tim Bugbee.

ten
YASMIN WILLIAMS, URBAN DRIFTWOOD (Old girl)
Williams responds to the last two years with guitar, harp-guitar, kora, tap dance and kalimba, among other instruments. She is explicit about her position as a black artist in the white male dominated field of fingerstyle guitar in a world that is still ruled by white supremacy. His music makes me happy.