Today, we celebrate albums coming out by two great musicians, who are releasing their first solo albums in years.


NenehCherry_AlbumArtFor Those Who Like: Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, St. Vincent

In 1989, acid-wash jeans and denim jackets were in style, Converse shoes were trendy, and my beloved Calgary Flames won their first and only Stanley Cup. It was also the year that Neneh Cherry bursted on to the music landscape with her hit debut album, Raw Like Sushi, which included the smash hit, “Buffalo Stance”.

It would take another seven years before Cherry would have another international hit; this time collaborating with Youssou N’Dour to produce the masterful “7 Seconds” in 1996, which was part of the very good Man, Cherry’s third solo LP. With the success of “7 Seconds”, which garnered Cherry an Grammy nomination, most expected to Neneh Cherry to continue to produce albums and hits, but instead she took a break from her solo career, choosing instead to dabble in small projects over the next few years.

In the past 6 years, Cherry has become increasingly involved in music, including collaborating with experimental jazz artists The Thing and forming the band cirKus with members of her family, including her daughter.

But now in 2014 and eighteen years since Man, Cherry is ready to launch her fourth solo LP. Two tracks have been released for the highly-anticipated Blank Project. The title track of the album and “Everything” are done in the sing-speak style with tempered percussion beats and electronic dubs in the background. Four Tet produced the album, and fellow Swedish songstress Robyn makes a guest appearance on one track.

Blank Project is out February 25. Cherry has announced a handful of European dates this month and in March. No plans yet for a North American tour.

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GhostofaGardener_cd-sleeve.inddFor Those Who Like: Sarah Harmer, Laura Veirs, Shelby Earl, The Carpenters

Another acclaimed musician is making her long-awaited return to music. Rachel Ries – the South Dakotan singer-songwriter who has openly embraced her Mennonite heritage – is set to release her third LP following a six-year, self-imposed break. The Ghost of the Gardener includes ten songs about life in rural America, the temptations of the big city, and her own personal exploration for redemption and reason.

Ghost of a Gardener was recorded in Chicago at Pieholden Suite Sounds, which is the studio of the late Jay Bennett “Wilco). The album was co-produced by Ries and David Vandervelde, and Emmett Kelly (Cairo Gang, Bonnie “Prince” Billy), Gregory Alan Isakov, and others make guest appearances.

Below are two tracks from the upcoming album. “Mercy” is a steely country-folk tune while “Words” is a little folk-pop tune.

Ghost of the Gardener is out on February 18. Ries commences a US tour this week in support of the album. Tour dates can be found on her website. No word on Canadian dates, but we think our friends at The Blacksheep Inn may invite her again in the near future.

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