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Though she’d been writing songs in her head since she was six, and on the guitar since she was 12, it took a long time for Nilüfer Yanya to work up the courage to show anyone her music. 'I knew I wanted to sing, but the idea of actually having to do it wasreally horrifying,' says the 23-year-old. When she was finally persuaded to do so, by a music teacher in West London where she grew up, she says 'it was horrible. I loved it'.
At 18, Nilüfer, who is of Turkish-Irish-Bajan heritage, uploaded a few demos to SoundCloud. Though she’s preternaturally shy, her music, which uniquely blends elements of soul and jazz into intimate pop songs with electronic flourishes and a newly expressed grungy guitar soun, isn’t. And it didn’t take long for it to catch people’s attention. She signed with independent New York label ATO, following three EPs on esteemed London indie label Blue Flowers, and earned a place on the BBC Sound of 2018 longlist. She also supported the likes of The XX, Interpol, Broken Social Scene and Mitski on tour.
Now, Nilüfer is ready to release her debut album, "Miss Universe". Though she recorded much of it in the same remote Cornwall studio she used to jam in as a much younger person, it is bigger and more ambitious than anything she has done before. "Angels", with its muted, harmonic riffs, channels ideas 'of paranoid thoughts and anxiety' - a theme that runs through the album, not least in its conceptual spoken word interludes which emanate from a fictional health management company WWAY HEALTH TM. 'You sign up, and you pay a fee,' explains Nilüfer of the automated messages, which are littered through the album and are narrated by the titular Miss Universe. 'They sort out all of your dietary requirements, and then they move onto medication, and then maybe you can get a better organ or something... and then suddenly it starts to get a bit weird. You're giving them more of you and to what end?'
A1. Play With Fire
A2. Expecting To Fly
A3. Sensitive Kind
B1. Gentle On My Mind
B2. Blind Willie McTell
B3. Going To California
Produced and engineered by James over two multi-week sessions at Los Angeles, CA’s 64 Sound, the album came to life after what looked like a permanent hiatus for the band. But after performing four shows in summer 2019 - beginning with two mind-blowing nights at Red Rocks Amphitheatre - My Morning Jacket were overcome with the urge to carry on.
That sense of purpose can be heard throughout the thrillingly expansive ‘My Morning Jacket’. For all its unbridled joy, songs like ‘Regularly Scheduled Programming’ and the otherworldly, album-closing ‘I Never Could Get Enough’ once again reveal My Morning Jacket’s hunger for exploring the most nuanced and layered existential questions in song form while simultaneously harnessing the hypnotic intensity of their legendary live show more fully than ever before.
“I hope this album brings people a lot of joy and relief, especially since we’ve all been cooped up for so long,” says James. “I know that feeling you get from driving around blasting music you love, or even lying in bed and crying to the music you love. The fact that we’re able to be a part of people’s lives in that way is so magical to us, and it feels really good that we’re still around to keep doing that.”
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: A wonderfully effervescent blues-indebted number from My Morning Jacket here, swimming in the grooving melodies and shimmering psychedelic grooves they do so well. Bombastic and exciting, this is the sound of a band only getting better at what they do.
Regularly Scheduled Programming
Love Love Love
Never In The Real World
The Devil's In The Details
Lucky To Be Alive
Out Of Range, Pt. 2
Penny For Your Thoughts
I Never Could Get Enough
Nashville has long been characterized by a sort of underdog spirit, and in 2010, that spirit was in full display at DIY punk venues, run-down honky-tonks and hole-in-the-wall dives. Over in East Nashville’s Lockeland Springs neighborhood, a handful of us lived in a century-old home that we called Holly House. Even more of us gathered there, musicians and artists who decided to form a collective of the same name, a half-dozen or so bands hopping on shows together, playing on each other’s records, calling meetings as an excuse to drink beer and talk shop.
Most of those bands are long-gone, but not Caitlin Rose. Then as now, Caitlin — my roommate and fellow Holly House member — shined bright as a songwriter and performer.
I first started seeing Caitlin play when she was around 16 or 17 years old, toting her guitar and tambourine to house shows and public parks and an all-ages punk venue downtown called The Muse, which has since been replaced by a Domino’s Pizza. I came to know her as “Cato,” a funny, brainy little weirdo with an outsized voice and ferocious collection of brilliant punky folk songs. I remember a question that would pop up from people in the crowd at various points throughout her performances, without fail: “Is this song a cover?” Caitlin was making songs that were so good, so memorable, so emotionally mature, that folks couldn’t believe they’d been written by a teen. I always grinned when I overheard someone asking the question.
With time, Caitlin’s sound evolved — her approach to songwriting, her influences, her embrace of country music as an idiom she really excelled at. The collection of songs she was creating back in our Holly House days, a collection that would ultimately become Own Side Now, showcased Caitlin’s preternatural knack for taking a moment — an emotion, an experience, an interaction — and bottling it, turning it into something listeners can experience for themselves.
The achingly lonesome “For the Rabbits” and “Sinful Wishing Well.” The tender, sprawling “Own Side.” The satisfying nostalgia of the intoxicatingly upbeat “Shanghai Cigarettes.” I remember Caitlin honing these songs in clubs and on tours, tweaking the arrangements with her world-class band. I must’ve seen Caitlin play “Spare Me” and “T-Shirt” dozens of times, and while no two performances were exactly the same, each one was a little bit closer to where it would ultimately land. She was always orbiting the perfect version of a song she’d been pouring her heart into for months or years. Own Side Now was the product of that long journey.
Now, 10 years since the initial release of Own Side Now, it’s moving to listen back to these potent songs and remember our time in Holly House, and our time at DIY spaces and punk clubs and dives that no longer exist. As you listen, maybe you’ll recall where you were in life when you first heard Caitlin’s music. Or maybe you’re listening for the first time, discovering a batch of songs that you can connect to in a personal way. Whether it’s your first listen or your 1,000th, this is an exceptional album made by an artist truly coming into her own. Enjoy it.
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