The best new music of the week: Cassandra Wilson, Death Cab for Cutie and more

By Nicholas Jennings

As music columnist for, each week I’ll bring you my selections for the best and most notable new music, albums you’re going to want to add to your collection plus a five-song playlist to try out. Happy listening!


Cassandra Wilson - Coming Forth By Day
She’s one of the most celebrated voices in jazz, but not one you’d immediately associate with Billie Holiday. But, to mark Lady Day’s 100 th birthday, Wilson has recorded a fascinating tribute, reimagining classics from the legend’s repertoire like “All of Me,” “These Foolish Things” and the chilling, civil rights anthem “Strange Fruit.”

Death Cab for Cutie - Kintsugi
The Seattle band’s latest is a turning point: the last to feature guitarist Chris Walla and the first that Walla hasn’t produced. With Rich Costey (Vampire Weekend) at the controls, Death Cab ventures into new emotional territory, especially on the shimmering “Black Sun,” about frontman Ben Gibbard’s divorce from Zooey Deschanel.

The Staves - If I Was
The English trio of sisters known as the Staves team up with Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) on their second album with spine-tinglingly good results. Accentuating the sonic spookiness of their harmonies on intimate ballads like “Let Me Down” and the cascading “Make It Holy,” Vernon has produced a modern folk classic with stark echoes of the past.

Ivana Santilli - Late Night Light
The former Bass is Base talent’s fifth album showcases her sultry r&b vocals on “Love Me Back,” inventive keyboard funk on “Leftover U” and her Italian-Quebec heritage on “Long Silences,” on which she plays accordion and sings in French. Best of all is “Lovers Love 2 Rock,” a potent reggae number featuring Level 42’s Mike Lindup.


Leave it to England’s One Direction to set social media all a-twitter. No sooner had Zayn Malik left the world’s best-selling boy band than a mini controversy raged about a perceived rift between his former bandmates and producer Naughty Boy, who is working with Malik on his solo debut. Naughty Boy retweeted a video claiming “Naughty Boy saved ‘Zaughty,’” a reference to Malik’s solo project, and “Zaughty will rise.” One Direction member Louis Tomlinson interpreted that as a criticism of the group and responded with a bristling tweet of his own: “Clearly trying to wind the fans up!” Tomlinson wrote. “You succeeded.” Malik left 1D on Mar. 25, claiming he craved the freedom of being a “22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” But he’s wasted no time going into the studio. Although Malik has remained silent on any future recording plans, a demo of his song “I Won’t Mind,” produced by Naughty Boy, can still be heard on YouTube (it was quickly pulled from Soundcloud after the controversy broke). Meanwhile, 1D has insisted it will continue as a quartet and release a new album later this year. Stay tuned.


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