The Washington Post

What you should be listening to: Katy B; Miloh Smith; Irene Kelley

A weekly selection of notable recordings.

British singer Katy B has released a new album titled “Little Red.” (Jennifer S. Altman for the Washington Post)

WARNING: Songs streaming below may contain explicit language.

If you need someone to hold your hand on the dance floor…

Katy B deserves gobs of credit for bringing the sound of London’s electronic music underground to Britain’s pop charts, but her true talent is for narrating the dissonant emotions that come rushing into the club at 5 a.m. — like on her song “5 a.m.”, when feelings of loneliness finally crawl out from beneath a euphoric house beat.

Her splendid sophomore album, “Little Red,” has plenty of moments like that one, plus some ballads for slow-dancing and/or sobbing.

If you need an R&B song to convince you that texting under the influence is a bad idea…

Atlanta’s Miloh Smith is the latest R&B millennial to smear the lines between lovesickness, technology and psychotropic bewilderment. On “Intexication” — a highlight from her terrifically trippy new mixtape, “Pulp Fiction” — she’s singing to the messages glowing on her phone like a dazed Erykah Badu: “I mean what I say even though it’s not what you heard.” Loud and clear.

If you’re interested in the memories of a coal miner’s granddaughter…

The title track of Irene Kelley’s handsome new album, “Pennsylvania Coal,” pays tribute to her grandparents’ struggles in a mining town outside Pittsburgh. The veteran country songwriter has since relocated to Nashville, where she’s penned songs for Trisha Yearwood and Alan Jackson, but on this bluegrass-tinged album, she’s telling her own stories with great clarity and warmth.

Listen to a stream of “Pennsylvania Coal” at

Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about the bliss of summer songs, the woe of festival fatigue and a guide on how to KonMari your record collection.



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