Having just released his debut album Sirens this month, Australian Ben Abraham is touring the UK this week (8-11 March). Having previously worked as a part-time children in hospitals, he's also made Q a playlist of"Songs to cure your ills".
Ruu Campbell – The Call "I figure let's dive headfirst into the plaintive and thoughtful. Hearing this song is what I imagine discovering a hidden forest-clearing must feel like. Ruu's fragile, whispered performance, the understated instrumentation, and ambient vocal layering, all amount to a pretty gorgeous meditation on longing that lingers well beyond the 2:46 running time. 'The Call' is the first step toward the healing that you didn't know you needed."
Lydia Cole – Dream "You won't know what hit you when New Zealander Lydia Cole starts singing. I can't think of another vocalist capable of such delicate intimacy. Her dreamlike melodies and the blend of sweetness and loss in her lyrics, make her the perfect antidote to this angry and cynical world."
Bibio – Dye The Water Green "I know he has a new album coming out but I still can't get enough of his 2013 release. Bibio has perfected a sound that is gorgeously nostalgic and surprising. Listen to the way the drums slowly rise and fall in the mix like an anxious lover's heartbeat, or note the yearning he injects into the line 'somebody longs for you', or that otherworldly final movement. Close your eyes and let this song come to your rescue."
On An On – Drifting "The trio from Minneapolis are masterful at crafting catchy pop melodies with an interesting vibe. I've loved them since their debut album Give In, and Drifting – a standalone release from last year – is a beautiful and sad example of their craft. I like it for its clear narrative, unpredictable turns (the "I gotta get out" section and drum entry) and Nate Eiesland's wonderful vocal performance. It's exactly the song you want to listen to late at night, when you're alone in your room, and start asking questions about your life that you don't want answered. Like when you have a cold."
Radiohead – How To Disappear Completely "This because it's my favourite Radiohead song and it's perfect for that moment when your sickness starts sending you into existential angst about the world - making it the perfect followup to Drifting. This whole album is perfect and every moment of this particular record is mesmerising to me. Identifying the droning, high-B-flat that is present throughout the whole song was somewhat of a watershed moment for me as an artist. I finally understood there was so much more to making music than just playing the chords and singing, and I've been learning to disappear completely ever since."
Luke Howard – Island "A sparse, ambient, slowly evolving bed of electronic sound may seem odd to single out from the (normally) piano-based composer's work, but it felt right for this list. I spent the last hour of my 20s with this stunning piece on repeat while I rode the train home and texted about happier times with my ex - so I know for a fact it has healing properties."
Ainslie Wills – Satellite "I can't get enough of Ainslie's voice and I would listen to her sing through the names in a phonebook. Her stuff is always melodically surprising, layered, and atmospheric (her guitarist is responsible for much of the ambience on my own record). One thing that impresses me so much about her singing is how much control she employs over her vibrato. Every breath and wavering note is a choice, elevating her to a level of craft rarely seen in pop singers. Make some tea, wrap yourself in a blanket and stare out your window while Ainslie croons the pain away."
Youssou N'Dour – 7 Seconds (ft Neneh Cherry) "Are we ready to talk about what a great song this is? Feels like the rise of paint-by-numbers EDM has all but wiped out the memory of how many great, groove-based tracks came out in the 90s. The production ideas definitely place it in another decade but soon you'll realise there's never been a chorus quite like it since. And how good does it feel to sing the 'I'll be waiting' line? That's right. Real good."
Rioux – Phantasm "We're at that part of the healing where the worst of it is over and you can feel your strength returning. A stank-face beat and some tasty sounds are just the ticket. Rioux's delicious production is on full display with this instrumental track from his Evolver EP. It's time to get out of your PJs and take your first shower in three days."
Bjork – Hyperballad "If any song can heal you it has to be this one. It's been 20 years since this came out and it blows my mind how compelling and fresh it still feels. The lyrical narrative is astonishing, her vocal performance is perfect and the whole thing is so full of joy and hope that I can't listen to it without feeling my disposition lift."
For more, including details of his tour, head to Facebook.com/benabrahammusic.