TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. Rock critic Ken Tucker has three new songs for you to hear by artists at different stages of grappling with romances from the past. The new music is from Caitlin Rose, who's just released her first new album in almost a decade, Natalie Mering, who records under the name Weyes Blood, and Carly Rae Jepsen, who sings a duet with Rufus Wainwright on her new single. Here's Ken's review.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MODERN DANCING")
CAITLIN ROSE: (Singing) Good love's a prison, but it could never hold me. You'll break your own heart, my mother told me. And this was never the time for your gentleman's call.
KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: The three songs I'm going to play are from singer-songwriters with wildly different approaches to their common theme, which is regret for something in the past that inspires a resolution in the present. Take Caitlin Rose, whose song "Getting It Right" is about not repeating mistakes she's made in matters of the Heart. In my 2013 review of Rose's last album, I said that she makes breaking up sound like a good housecleaning of the soul. On this new song, she's ready to leave the house and enjoy life again.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GETTING IT RIGHT")
ROSE: (Singing) So many nights looking to find the good that's buried in this heart of mine - lost in a mirror, caught in a bind, seeing myself in them every time. Talk too much or not enough. Everything tender always comes out rough. Someday I'll find the answer somehow. But I'm just working on getting it right now.
TUCKER: Caitlin Rose is based in Nashville. But "Getting It Right" has the easy swing of LA country rock, something Linda Ronstadt might have sung early in her career. Natalie Mering has recorded for more than a decade under the name Weyes Blood. She has a new album called "And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow." And the song on it that struck me most is "It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody." It starts with the singer feeling lonely at a party, but rapidly expands and blossoms into a rich, ethereal ballad about, as she puts it, living in the wake of overwhelming changes. Her stated goal here is to make meaningful connections with some new people.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT’S NOT JUST ME, IT’S EVERYBODY")
WEYES BLOOD: (Singing) Sitting at this party wondering if anyone knows me, really sees who I am. Oh, it's been so long since I felt really known. Fragile in the morning - can't hold on to much of anything with this hole in my hand. I can't pretend that we always keep what we find. Oh, yes.
TUCKER: How about that? It's like the best Joni Mitchell song you've never heard. The third song I want to play is from the always underrated pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen, who has a new album out called "The Loneliest Time" with a single of the same name, a duet with singer Rufus Wainwright. Like the Weyes Blood song, what starts as a lonely woman ballad quickly becomes something else - in this case, a big disco production. The throwback sound fits a song about repairing an old relationship with fresh wisdom.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE LONELIEST TIME")
CARLY RAE JEPSEN: (Singing) I've had one of those bad dreams where we're standing on your street. I quit smoking those cigarettes, but I'm never getting over it.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN AND RUFUS WAINWRIGHT: (Singing) And you're looking right through me just like Shakespeare wrote a tragedy 'bout our story - never finished it, 'cause our love, we never finished it.
JEPSEN: (Singing) I'm coming over tonight. Knock on your door...
JEPSEN AND WAINWRIGHT: (Singing) Just like before.
JEPSEN: (Singing) I need that look in your eyes.
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT: (Singing) Look in your eyes.
JEPSEN: (Singing) 'Cause we've had the lonliest time.
WAINWRIGHT: (Singing) Loneliest time.
JEPSEN: (Singing) I'm thinking all through the night...
TUCKER: "The Loneliest Time" has gotten unanticipated attention because its spoken word bridge two-thirds of the way through has been seized upon by TikTok users, who use it to illustrate their own videos of heartache and reconciliation. We're talking TikTok videos with combined millions of views. And when TikTok fame occurs, it opens up a new, young audience, one that Carly Rae Jepsen certainly deserves.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE LONELIEST TIME")
JEPSEN: (Singing) What happened was we reached the moon. But lost in space, I think we got there all too soon. But you know what? I'm coming back for you, baby. I'm coming back for you.
GROSS: Ken Tucker reviewed new music by Caitlin Rose, Weyes Blood and Carly Rae Jepsen. Tomorrow on FRESH AIR, we'll hear what it's like being a maitre d' at the fanciest restaurants in New York City. Our guest will be Michael Cecchi-Azzolina, who's worked in the business for three decades, telling wealthy diners, celebrities and even the mafia whether or not they can have the table by the window. His new memoir is called "Your Table Is Ready." I hope you'll join us.
(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID FELDMAN, RAUL DE SOUZA AND TONINHO HORTA'S "SOCCER BALL")
GROSS: FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham, with additional engineering today from Charlie Kaier. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Susan Nyakundi. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Roberta Shorrock directs the show. I'm Terry Gross.
(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID FELDMAN, RAUL DE SOUZA AND TONINHO HORTA'S "SOCCER BALL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.