To date, I’ve written five books. The research from the early part of my academic career explored the roles played by loss, memory, nostalgia and revolution in popular music and was heavily influenced by theories of place and spatiality. These ideas were developed in my first book Fado and the Place of Longing (Ashgate, 2010), which analysed Portuguese fado music as a reflection and production of space and place.
The topics of memory, nostalgia and revolution are also present in my second book, on Nina Simone, written for Equinox’s ‘Icons of Popular Music’ series (Nina Simone, Equinox, 2013). This book combines history, biography and song analysis and – unusually for publications about this artist – explores the whole of Simone’s career. As well as attending to the often-discussed role Simone played in the civil rights era of the 1960s, I discuss her late style and start to outline my theory of ‘the late voice’.
Another ongoing theme in my work is the various ways in which music creates or evokes ‘memory places’ that take on significance for individuals and communities. My third book, The Late Voice (Bloosmbury Academic, 2015), explores the representation of time, age and experience in popular song, building its narrative around extended case studies of Ralph Stanley, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. I’ve written further about late voice in the work of Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, and in a study of the song ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes‘, also contributing to an episode of the BBC series Soul Music devoted to that song. In a related vein, my article on popular music and aging features in the Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging.
The Sound of Nonsense (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018) reflects my interest in words, music and sound studies. It brings together novelists, nonsense writers, sound poets, experimental composers, comedians and pop musicians in an attempt to get at the role of sound in creating, maintaining and disrupting meaning. The book builds on ideas previously explored in two articles about the musician Robert Wyatt.
My fifth book, DJs do Guetto (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022), was written for the 33 1/3 Europe series. It uses the 2006 compilation DJs do Guetto as a prism for exploring the aesthetics and roots of Portuguese batida, its roots in Lusophone Africa, its evolution in the immigrant communities of Lisbon and its journey from there to the world.