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Curated Cuts: A&R Mogul Nigel Reeve’s 10 Must-Hear Songs
List & Guides

Curated Cuts: A&R Mogul Nigel Reeve’s 10 Must-Hear Songs

As a Warner Music Group exec, Nigel Reeve lives and breathes music. These ten songs featuring female singers dig deep into the music that made him.

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Trying to pick my ten favourite songs is impossible. The selections would change by the hour – though I could probably hone it down to 200 tracks that would pretty much keep appearing. So I decided to go a different route. These ten songs featuring female singers always resonate with me. It wasn’t until I listened back to them, on a rainy night in October, that I realised quite how downbeat or “late night” they were. Clearly the weather had influenced my listening preferences!

Listen to Nigel Reeve’s ten must-hear songs, and scroll down to see what he has to say about them.

Julie London: Cry Me A River (1955)

A majestic vocal performance over a wonderfully evocative atmospheric arrangement. Simple but oh so effective; an all time classic.

Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1972)

Perfection captured on tape. Ewan MacColl’s love song to Peggy Seeger is taken to a totally different level. As with Cry Me A River, it’s the space behind the vocal that creates the room for the emotion to shine through. If this doesn’t touch you, you have no soul.

k.d. Lang: The Air That I Breathe (1997)

Growing up with Top Of The Pops, and having seen it repeatedly on television at the time, The Hollies’ all time classic version of this song could not be bettered… until k.d. lang turned her hand to it. The way her version builds is exceptional. Controversial as it may be to say this, to me hers is the definitive version of this song. One word: sublime.

Diana Ross: I’m Still Waiting (1971)

Pop and vocal perfection. The Godlike genius of Ms Ross is here for all to hear. A record that I first heard on the radio one rainy morning before leaving for infants’ school with my mum, the spell it cast that morning has never left me.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, featuring Norah Jones: Season’s Trees (2011)

From the album Rome, a supremely understated vocal drifts over a funky backing that could have been dragged kicking and screaming from Scott Walker’s Scott 3 or Scott 4 albums. Danger Mouse is a genius and Norah nails the essence of the song. Reeking of autumn, this is one of my favourite songs of all time.

Mono: Life In Mono (1996)

I’ve no idea how I stumbled across this song in 1996, but it’s been a bit of favourite ever since. It’s a track that brings to mind images of walking along tree-lined avenues in autumn; of a fictional, futuristic late-60s TV drama with a theme tune infused with John Barry’s DNA. Clearly, the track touched others as it was used in Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 film adaptation of Great Expectations, apparently at Robert De Niro’s suggestion of Robert De Niro.

Bomb The Bass: Winter In July (1991)

A song that crept up on me – as all great song do. I found it constantly on repeat in my head. Once described as “progressive dance”, it features a wonderful vocal by Loretta Heywood over an icy blast of a backing by Tim Simenon.

Coldcut: Autumn Leaves (1993)

A wonderful take on the jazz standard with vocals by Janis Alexander and featuring a 30-piece string section. The Mixmaster Morris remix is legendary.

Craig Armstrong, featuring Elizabeth Fraser: This Love (1998)

Composer Craig Armstrong recruited Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins to add a vocal of eternal grace and beauty to this stunning piece of work. It yearns.

Madonna: Frozen (1998)

For me this was Madonna finally growing up. Having made some cast-iron pop classics, Frozen took her into much darker, intense artistic territory. Co-producer William Orbit’s stamp is clear for all to hear; it stands up to repeated listens and is still one of Madonna’s finest songs.

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