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Kelly English’s Cooking Playlist

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Just Let Go– Sturgill Simpson 

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (2014) 

Jackson, Kentucky-born Sturgill Simpson is among English’s favorite artists. “This song puts so much in perspective for me and really calms me in moments of overwhelming stress.”

Trashcan– Delta Spirit 

Ode to Sunshine (2008) 

Alt-country-meets-indie-rock group Delta Spirit is known for its rootsy, rollicking sound. This song is so named for a percussive trashcan lid. “It’s impossible not to feel the passion for the music they make,” English says.

Feathered Indians – Tyler Childers 

Purgatory (2017) 

English discovered Tyler Childers, a breakout artist from Eastern Kentucky, through Sturgill Simpson’s Instagram page (he co-produced Childers’ latest album, Purgatory). English is captivated by the way he writes, especially about difficult topics surrounding his Appalachian home. “He’s one of the folks who gives faith back to country music being a real art.”

 

Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield 

Curtis (1970) 

“Curtis Mayfield was just incredible in every way, but he gets overlooked when it comes to that era of music. This song should get more love than it does.”

Whateva Will Be – A Tribe Called Quest 

We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (2016) 

“These guys have always led the way with conscious hip-hop; we need them today. I love how much they speak from the heart, and I appreciate getting perspectives I can’t arrive at on my own— because I don’t know how it feels.”

Zealots – Fugees 

The Score (1996) 

“Lauryn Hill’s verse in this song is my favorite minute or so of hip hop ever recorded,” English says. “I love the Fugees. I think this album is really important. It tells the audience you don’t have to be inflammatory to say something.”

Christmas in Washington – Steve Earle 

El Corazón (1997) 

This progressive country tune is rich in references to lesser-known political figures. “I learned history from listening to it,” English says. “The song was recorded twenty years ago, but it could have been written yesterday.”

Welcome Home – Radical Face 

Ghost (2007) 

This song, with its entrancing ebb and flow of quiet verses and swelling chorus, is at once both comforting and disturbing. “It’s a powerful song,” English says.

Hyperballad – Björk 

Post (1995) 

English is drawn to the soul-baring nature of this Björk tune— and the Icelandic singer-songwriter’s work in general. “She was so ahead of her time, and she’s a powerful woman,” English says. “And I dig lady power.”

Holland, 1945 – Neutral Milk Hotel 

 

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998) 

“Every New Year’s Day, I have a tradition. I sing this song as loud as I can and just jam out to it. It’s fast and, depending on someone’s definition, hardcore,” English says. “It’s like food—sometime it’s intricate and perfect, and sometimes it’s just punk rock.” (And no, Neutral Milk Hotel isn’t a punk band, but “the spirit is there,” he adds.)

Home – Marco Pavé 

 

Welcome to Grc Lnd (2017) 

“Marco Pavé tells me about my town of Memphis through a lens I can’t view it from. He longs for his home and wants it to be completely different at the same time. I think that can be shared throughout many Southern towns, especially in the African American experience.”

 

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Father John Misty 

Fear Fun (2012) 

Under his pseudonym Father John Misty, Josh Tillman wrote this song about his grandfather’s funeral. Despite its somewhat “sinister undertone,” English says it “can get your head bobbing and get you in the mood to cook or whatever you want to do.”

Shine a Light – The Rolling Stones 

Exile on Main Street (1972

Exile on Main Street is his favorite rock album. “It rolls through a few different genres,” he says. “The beginning is straight Mississippi blues—I think the Stones were best when they were trying to imitate a blues or country band.”

Passin’ Me By– The Pharcyde 

Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992) 

Sampling “Summer in the City” and “Are You Experienced?” this song is an ode to unrequited love. “It’s a great song to put you in the mood to cook for somebody.”

Tell It to the Dust – Anders Parker

English is drawn to Anders Parker’s songwriting. “He speaks in metaphors that I haven’t heard much before,” he says. “This is a great album.”

 

Listen to entire Spotify playlist here