Top Tracks: Francesca Louise – For Michael

Losing someone close to you is never easy, but processing all that grief through a creative medium like music can be a very comforting and healing experience. However, the thought of then sharing that work with the world that special person left behind can be a deeply daunting proposition. It’s hard enough to capture all the ways they left their mark on you, and the void their absence has left in your own life, but the truth is you’re only seeing but one facet of who they are. How can you capture everything a person was, everything they meant to those that loved them most? As much as we may want to, the simple answer is you can’t. But we can preserve in a song simply that they were loved and will be dearly missed, and perhaps that is enough, as no one is ever truly gone so long as they are remembered. ‘For Michael’ is just such a track – simple, sincere, warm and loving – not trying to quantify all that was lost, just carrying his memory into a new day. A gorgeous offering recalling the golden age of singer/songwriters, it’s the most haunting, soulful and heartfelt release yet from the fabulous Francesca Louise, and is sure to resonate with anyone else who has kept a candle burning for the ones we’ve lost.

Live Review: The Lumineers, The O2 London, 4th March 2022

They say that insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Having already seen The Lumineers live twice in the past few years, seeing them graduate from playing mid-sized venues to selling out major stadiums, I felt like I had a pretty clear idea of what to expect for the third time around. Even for a band with a track record for surprising me, there are only so many ways that a band to up their game in a live setting. After their most recent record fell a little flat, I wondered how well the new material would translate to a live setting, and how their latest tour would hold up compared to previous gigs. I’m pleased to report that the band are still at the top of their game when it comes to delighting a crowd, and they managed to pull a few more tricks from out their sleeves. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Phourist & the Photons – Are We Villains?

Did you know that even after centuries of practice we have no idea how acupuncture works. It does seem to work to some degree, but no one has ever been able to put a finger on why. All we’ve got to go on is that applying the right pressure in the right places can somehow relieve all the strain and tension that’s built up over time. Listening to the new track from Kentucky quartet Phourist & the Photons feels like finding that same phenomenon in musical form. ‘Are We Villains?’ feels blissful and enchanting in ways that I can’t quite wrap my head around, but the results speak for themselves; it’s a track that works to unwind and unravel all the stress weighing down on your weary bones. The idyllic psychedelic expanse of its guitar sounds, the expressiveness of the bass tone, the crystalline way the piano notes ring out like falling water droplets, how the growing complexity of the drum patterns never draw you out of the daydream the song has crafted. I can’t quite say exactly how it works as well as it does, all I can offer is my best guess, that it finds the right melodies in the right moments to make everything feel that bit better.

Top Tracks: Dan Zimmerman – Carry You

It’s tracks like this one which make my job incredibly difficult. Even if I was the greatest writer in the English-speaking world, there’d still be songs where my commentary adds very little. The best words I could muster would always be a mere distraction next to ‘Carry You’, as the only words that matter here are those of Dan Zimmerman. Set against a backdrop of elegant piano and sumptuous strings, ‘Carry You’ details the loss of a close friend who died from cancer. Anyone who’s known loss will find something that feels all too familiar in this exploration of grief; the sense of disbelief that refuses to fade, feeling completely lost and aimless, reflecting on all the ways they left a mark on your life and the fond memories you’ll cherish forever, all the pain, anger and emptiness left in their absence. But as familiar as it all feels, no two instances of grief are ever the same. Everyone we lose leaves behind a different void in their wake, and we each of us are left to deal with it in our own way. This tale of loss is one that only Dan Zimmerman can tell, and he does so with the utmost grace, sincerity and tenderness.

Top Tracks: Lydia Kaseta – Hate The Day

For every stage of a relationship, from butterflies to heartbreak, there’s a wealth of love songs out there. Whatever fire is burning inside you, chances are there’s a track somewhere which expresses what’s in your heart better than you ever could. Those are the songs we gravitate towards, the ones which act as a mirror for our own feelings. Rarely though do we stop and think about the person on the other end, and what it would be like for someone to bear their soul before you in song. How it must feel to have a snapshot of someone’s love for you preserved for all time; an intoxicating high unlike any other. Written about falling for another songwriter, the new single from Lydia Kaseta is all too familiar with that feeling, and ultimately shares how hard it is to let it go. ‘Hate The Day’ details a fading relationship, and the inevitability that one day all those love songs will be about someone else. It’s such a unique and refreshing new angle, performed with real sincerity and expressiveness.

Top Tracks: Leo – Doctor

It can be hard to admit, both to yourself and others, when things are getting bad. You tell yourself that you’re on top of it when in reality you’re barely holding on treading water. You throw up walls and refuse help as it feels like admitting defeat, but deep down there’s a quiet little voice calling out for rescue. The thing about holding on is that everything is alright, right up until the moment that it’s not. Once you lose that tenuous grip it’s a long way to fall. With their debut single ‘Doctor’, Melbourne based artist Leo explores walking that razor’s edge with regards to anxiety, and how difficult it can be to accept help. How attaching definitions and putting labels on that nebulous mass you’ve been pushing down for so long makes it feel more real and harder to escape. It’s easier to live in ignorant bliss than feel like someone’s project to fix up, but the hardest things in life are often the most important choices we have to make. Leo’s delicate haunting vocals and visceral unflinching lyricism remind me deeply of Julien Baker at her very best, and I adore the track’s slow burn towards a tumultuous and cathartic climax.