Another typical January release day, however things are picking up a little bit as there were more new albums this week than last. There were two albums I enjoyed this week, one being Big Sigh by Marika Hackman (Listen) and the other being Penalty of Leadership by Boldy James & Nicholas Craven (Listen).

At first I thought Big Sigh from Marika Hackman was my introduction to her music, but upon further research, I did have her 2019 album, Any Human Friend, saved on Apple Music. Related artists are listed as Sharon van Etten, This is the Kit, Julia Jacklin, Angel Olsen, The Japanese House, and Big Thief – so there was no way this release was getting past my ears.

Hackman delivers (for the most part) ethereal, orchestral songs, with very personal lyrics focused on relationships (parental, toxic and otherwise), anxiety, and falling in love. There are a few more (relatively) upbeat songs, which just happen to be my favorite tracks: “No Caffeine” and “Slime”. Other highlights include “Hanging” and “The Yellow Mile”.

“The Yellow Mile” by Marika Hoffman

If you like The Japanese House and All Mirrors-era Angel Olsen, you will dig Marika Hoffman.

Penalty of Leadership is classic Boldy James. I really enjoyed his collaboration with RichGains on last year’s Indiana Jones (Listen) and he starts off 2024 with another high point.

The Detroit rapper is known for his lyricism and his style has been described as “numb”, which definitely enhances the storytelling on this album – you can feel the pain, tiredness, and struggle on these tracks – the first recorded since his serious car accident, almost one year ago today. Boldy was in critical condition when he arrived at the hospital, after sustaining broken vertebrae in his neck.

Beyond James, the production and samples are top notch. Craven, a Montreal-based producer, seems like a perfect match for the Boldy James style. They last paired up in 2022 on their well-received album, Fair Exchange No Robbery. Craven’s’ beats and soulful samples just float underneath James’ almost stream of conscious flow. So good

Highlights: “Brand New Chanel Kicks”, “Evil Genius”, “All My Tokens”.

“Brand New Chanel Kicks” by Boldy James and Nicholas Craven

Anything I miss this week? I have the new ones from 21 Savage and Kid Cudi saved, but those didn’t grab me on a quick first listen.

Also – new Crucial Tracks issue in one week!

Record giveaway to newsletter subscribers this February

I am a patient boy.

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