Irish singer Imelda May's first foray into poetry offers a variety of delights.

Since starting out in 2002, she has forged a reputation for dependability.

Solid songwriting and enviable musicianship (she is well-versed in many instruments including the bodhran drum) has made her a darling of taste-makers like Jools Holland.

May's path has been one of low-key artistry rather than pop success.

It's a surprise, then, that it has taken her so long to release a collection of her poetry, set here against a variety of appropriate aural backdrops, including birdsong, ambience and gentle jazz.

These are songs May tells to her friends and family, over a dinner or a drink, in the great story-telling tradition of Ireland.

As such, they are lively, evocative and extremely funny, even when she deals with themes of abuse on the tellingly titled GBH.

"I constantly write. Writing pads are filled, backs of envelopes, scraps of paper are scribbled on and scattered around me in between books, trinkets and photos," she says.

It's a pleasure to hear her stories come to life.

(Review by Alex Green)



YouTube star KSI, real name Olajide 'JJ' Olatunji, has released a debut solo album that will not only cement him a few slots in the singles music charts, but also his place as a force to be reckoned with in the music world.

The album, titled Dissimulation, has popular tracks like Houdini, which features British rappers Swarmz and Tion Wayne, and has already debuted on the UK singles chart.

KSI (which stands for Knowledge, Strength, Integrity) has also collaborated with some other impressive names on the album, including Migos star Offset, Rick Ross and Lil Pump.

The 26-year-old doesn't hold back in his lyrics and is out to prove the naysayers wrong - a job he does well.

Having already cemented a solid social media fanbase - he has 21 million YouTube subscribers - this album is bound to earn him a lot more fans.

(Review by Kathy Iffly)



Sebastien Tellier competed for France in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, arriving in a golf buggy with the Tricolour flag on the front and clutching a globe filled with helium which he inhaled from lustily, before joining five backing singers dressed to look like him in sunglasses and wigs.

He was robbed, coming 19th behind Albania and Azerbaijan, but enhanced his reputation for eccentric innovation, something his sixth studio album could do with more of.

Maybe the album title reveals too much, as while it is tasteful and impeccably produced, there's little that's wild or untamed among the eight tracks here focusing on finding happiness in the domestic chores.

Opening track and first single A Ballet sees washes of synths sailing on stately beats, with outbreaks of 80s yacht rock sax, before ending with tinkling piano.

Stuck In A Summer Love is slightly more urgent with auto-tuned lyrics insisting "I can't stop loving you" while Atomic Smile is another slow jam almost overwhelmed by autotune and closer Won finishes without leaving much of a trace.

The album lasts 32 minutes, so doesn't drag, and is pleasant enough, but some of the audacity shown in his Eurovision bid could have made it essential.

(Review by Matthew George)



Nicole Atkins describes Italian Ice, her fifth studio album, as "an acid trip through my record collection". She couldn't be more right.

The American songstress, from New Jersey, draws on her myriad of influences for a record that evokes her home state, as well as the soulful sound of the place it was recorded: Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama.

Here she eschews the trapping of contemporary folk and roots rock for something a little more psychedelic, steadied by the depth of her lyricism.

Like on previous records, she surrounds herself with a crew of ace musicians, from acts including Spoon, My Morning Jacket and The Bad Seeds.

Italian Ice is named after her favourite summer treat growing up in Asbury Park, as well as an alter ego she's taken on while shooting dice.

The album itself displays the same playful attitude and reflects an artist experimenting while staying true to their roots.

(Review by Alex Green)



Alec Benjamin is something of an anomaly among pop performers.

Initially signed to Columbia Records while still enrolled at the University of Southern California, he was dropped before he could release his debut album.

He played his songs in car parks outside Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan gigs and handed out business cards, creating enough organic buzz to attract the attention of Atlantic Records.

On These Two Windows, Benjamin's sweet voice and the album's candied production belie his contemplative, often searing, self-analysis.

On Demons he sings: "I've got all these demons hiding underneath/Nobody can see them/Nobody can even know the reason/The only thing that keeps me diving off the deep end."

Jesus In LA reimagines the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson's Faustian pact with the Devil for the modern age, warning listeners not to look for Jesus "at a party in the hills" or "at the bottom of a bottle".

Weaker cuts like Match In The Rain and I'm A Cynic fail to shine lyrically but maintain the high standard of production.

These Two Windows positions Benjamin among a new generation of singers - including Noah Cyrus and Billie Eilish - bearing their souls to the world.

(Review by Alex Green)