Andraé Crouch – Mercy (1994)
Since this is one of the first albums I ever heard, I might be a little partial to this one, but I still think it’s one of the greatest gospel albums ever made. As a gospel artist, Andraé had a 10 year hiatus while focusing on other things, but here he’s back again with a fresh sound and lyrics as passionate about Jesus as ever. Many of the songs have an extended form which makes it interesting and exciting to listen to. Listen for example to the switches between straight forward pop and disco in #1, or classic gospel and hiphop in #2. And how many other gospel albums have a 2-minute jazz piano solo at the end of a track, like in #5? Like several times before, Andraé takes influences from world music, you can hear African elements in #6, some reggae grooves in #7, and Latin in #8 which is a bit weaker though. The album closes with a beautiful ballad which actually deals with dark subjects like Satan, hell and suicide, but always comes back to the never changing love of God.
Herbie Hancock – Sunlight (1978)
After releasing quite a few funk albums during the 70’s, Herbie started going more and more towards straight ahead disco, which had its peak with 1982’s “Lite me up”. On this album you can already hear some disco influences, especially in #1 and #3, which are dominated by Herbie singing through a vocoder. The track that stands out most though is #2, which is a smooth blend of funk, orchestral elements and vocoder, with an extended form. The two remaining tracks are somewhat weaker and a bit reminiscent of the funk tracks from previous albums. This period of Herbie’s music has been widely criticized for being too commercial, but I must say I like it better when it’s not as experimental as on many other albums. In my opinion, the late 70’s offered some of Herbie’s best non-jazz albums, and this is definitely one of them.
Jens Lekman – Night falls over Kortedala (2007)
This is still Jens’s most famous album, not necessarily his best, it depends on what you’re after. Probably this album got its popularity because of its playfulness; orchestral instruments, sudden tempo changes and an extended use of samples. The most fun sample is probably the doowop intro from a Greg Philinganes song which can be heard in both #4 and #11. There are also a lot of catchy melodies, especially the closing track which is very similar to John Mayer’s “Heart of life”. The hit single “The opposite of Hallelujah” has that 60’s vibe that could be found in almost all pop music around that time. For those who like the disco vibe from his later albums, #2 is probably the closest to that. Like the album title hints, the album overall has got that unpolished Gothenburg sound.