I played string instruments growing up, so I’ve always been fascinated with brass. Horns and trumpets, when juxtaposed with guitar, bass, and drums, lend an entirely different mood to a song: bold, stout, clean and weighty, bright and jazzy. The songs on this playlist use horns in different ways and to different ends, but they are all brassy, in the positive sense of shameless or strident.
Valerie June, “Working Woman Blues”
Probably my favorite song of 2013. It starts with folksy guitar, drums, and June’s one-of-a-kind voice, but wait for the horn solo, which makes the song.
Carpenters, “Close to You”
A classic that ought never be forgotten, with a modest trumpet line that buoys the winsome strings.
Aimee Mann, “Medicine Wheel”
Troubled piano, mournful horns, and a devastating narrative: Aimee Mann at her best.
Lykke Li, “This Trumpet in My Head”
A simple song that is adequately described by the title.
Ani DiFranco, “Swing”
The cheery horns offset the weary lyrics. By the end, you’ll have a mouthful of fur, and you’ll be laughing.
Jill Scott, “You Don’t Know”
Bluesy, soulful horns and Scott’s powerful voice.
Prince, “Sexy MF”
RIP, purple one.