Uri Nakayama – Skyscraper in Sunset
Uri Nakayama is a Japanese songwriter and singer who plays accordion and trumpet, among other things. Her music has elements of rhythm 'n' blues, jazz and traditional Japanese folk music. I won't attempt to describe it, but this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard: http://www.tumblr.com/search/Uri%20Nakayama
Astrud Gilberto – Manha de Carnaval
Astrud is the polar opposite of serial shouters and show-offs, like Tina Turner and Mariah Carey, attention-seekers who have no place in the lives of anyone who seeks peace, relaxation, or at least a lie-down for a few minutes. Astrud sounds like a housewife singing along with the radio while doing the washing up. Sorry if this sounds sexist, but we are talking about the 1960s – if you want a flavour of the times, listen to Bacharach and David's Wives and Lovers.
"You don't have to shout," says Astrud. We are led to think of Brazil as party land, a raucous cacophony, but its Portuguese heritage imbues the country with a passion for sadness, real sadness, not self-pitying boo-hooing. Manha de Carnaval embodies the deeper, quieter, softer face of Brazil.
Dusty Springfield – Just a Little Lovin'
Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann wrote hundreds of songs, recorded by thousands of artists and enjoyed by millions of people. Dusty Springfield gave pleasure to just as many people, whether with her up-tempo pop hits in the 1960s or when showing her softer side. She was a troubled soul, a fact which, although we may be sorry about her inner uncertainties, has certainly made her recordings of songs like Just A Little Lovin' all the more poignant. Although it is supposed to be a happy song about waking up with the one you love, Dusty's voice imbues it with a sadness that adds a new dimension to the words.
Just a Little Lovin' is taken from Dusty's album, Dusty in Memphis. Some people refer to this album as a 'classic'. Well, I think it has a lot of low points, but it's highest point is undoubtedly her performance of Randy Newman's I Don't Want to Hear it Anymore. But that's not a calm song – you will wake up crying.
Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game
I don't know why I'm including this. Love is a Losing Game is one of the saddest things you will ever hear, made even sadder by the singer's too, too early death. Like her life, the song is short, but gives so much. Go to sleep with this and wake up crying. Laughing, crying, whimpering, screaming: you've got to do something.
Super Furry Animals – Juxtaposed With U
"You've got to tolerate all those people that you hate'" they sing. Blinking difficult, but if we all did it, what a wonderful world it would be. However, if we all tolerated the people that we hate, there would be no-one to hate, because we would all love each other. Then, there would be no need for lovely calming songs like Juxtaposed With U. Oh, I've disappeared up my own argument now. Listen. Enjoy. Chill.