Albums: Lost LP Hitchhiker a joyful snapshot of Neil Young at height of 70s powers
THE extent of Neil Young's golden run in the 1970s is such that only he could have hidden away an LP of such simple beauty and not thought to release it for 40 years. Hitchhiker was recorded live in a single session in 1976, in between Zuma and American Stars And Bars, and contains tracks that would subsequently feature on some of his later hit records. There's certainly a voyeuristic thrill in getting a glimpse of Rust Never Sleeps classics Powderfinger and Ride My Llama in raw, embryonic form, but the real gems are some of the previously unreleased tracks. Young's voice is unspeakably beautiful throughout, and particularly so on the wistful Give Me Strength and Campaigner, the latter of which contains the magnificent lyric: "Our secret's safe and still well kept/Where even Richard Nixon has got soul". Folk fans, rejoice: Hitchhiker is a joyful snapshot of a musical demigod in full creative flow, right at the peak of his powers.
TORI Amos has spent much of the last 20 years living in Cornwall, its landscapes, coastlines and mythology feeding the creativity of an artist on to her 15th solo album. Now 54, Amos experienced major success in the mid to late 1990s, scoring UK top 10 singles with Cornflake Girl, Pretty Good Year and Professional Widow. She never went away, despite the hits drying up. The American, poised at her piano, has toured theatres the world over. She applies a cryptic coating to her words, but this is a political record, and Amos has spoken of wanting to help listeners "survive the storms that we are currently in". For "we", read the United States under President Trump. It begins with a call to Mother Nature in the spiritual sprawl of Reindeer King, before Broken Arrows questions, "Are we emancipators or oppressors of Lady Liberty?" Mary's Eyes is just as stark but more personal, addressing the stroke that rendered her mother Maryellen unable to speak. When it hits the mark, Native Invader makes a profound impact.
ZOLA Jesus, stage name of experimental singer-songerwriter Nika Rosa Danilova, is no stranger to drama. But Okolovi, a Slavic word for "shackles", is the sound of someone living through intense personal trauma. After a battle with depression, Danilova returned to her native Wisconsin only to find the people around her falling apart themselves. These months, in which death haunted Danilova's self-built cabin in the woods, are soaked into the soul of this, her fifth album. The familiar palette of skittering and thunderous percussion, cello, engineered soundscapes and Danilova's own opera-trained alto paint the scenes of the album into rich, dark meditations on mortality. At times experimentally electronic, through gothic-industrial and moving, classical arias, Okolovi sounds like it was recorded in a vast warehouse, with moonlight reflecting off the pipework and broken glass, rather than the wood shack in which they were composed.