A musical journey of discovery.
Several years ago I discovered that Cerys Matthews, singer of Welsh alt rock band Catatonia, has a Sunday morning show on BBC radio. It’s a wholesome ramble of a show that marvels in the diversity and scope of music, art, and nature. It’s truly lovely.
One of my favourite elements of the show is when Cerys plays two songs back to back that are connected in some way. Sometimes the connective tissue is a bassline or a drum beat, sometimes it’s a lyric, sometimes it’s just the ‘feeling’ of the song. “That should be a whole show” I thought to myself, moving on with my life, UNTIL Add To Playlist was suggested to me.
Here, fully formed and with lots of episodes, is a whole show dedicated to creating playlists full of songs that have various musical webs linking them. Cerys is joined by Jeffrey Boakye, a self-described author, broadcaster, educator and occasional journalist, who adds — among many other things — the black British perspective, and with it, many rich layers of history, musical and otherwise.
Jeffrey and Cerys are joined by guests from the world of music on each episode, and the enthusiastic discussions of music are often accompanied by impromptu instrumental moments and singalongs. All of this sounds chaotic, but in truth there is such goodwill and respect between the guests that this very quickly slips into the ‘listening in to a conversation between friends’ territory of podcasting. With keyboards and brass instruments, occasionally.
The editing is also top notch as well, to be fair. Blending four voices, several instruments, and song samples is a feat of audio engineering in itself. The reverence that the guests have for music, and its place in history, just seeps into the production of the whole product.
All of this could sound very dry, but trust me it’s not. Even when talking about heavy political lyrics and activism in music, the hosts — and guests — are charismatic enough to be engaging. And singalongs to well-worn songs like Ring of Fire could be twee, but there’s enough enthusiasm in celebrating the melodies that it becomes endearing.
Music is a living, breathing, often indefinable thing. Conversations about music can’t ever capture that lightning in a bottle, but Add To Playlist comes close.
Can You Sleep To It?
Seems like that would be counter-productive.