Top Tracks: Jenny Kern – Coming Back For Me

I recall once reading about the quietest room in the world. How people can only endure being inside it for a few minutes at a time, as the deafening silence allows you to hear the sounds of your body that the world would otherwise drown out. In a way I feel like this phenomenon applies to any extended period of isolation – something we’ve all had in abundance this past year. It’s when we’re alone with our thoughts that our minds wander the most. Somehow the quiet stillness of solitude is all it takes to open the floodgates. All those fears you dare not acknowledge, the memories long faded rushing back in vivid detail, the pent-up emotions you hoped would simply fade away; all surging unbidden to the forefront of your thoughts. It’s a difficult feeling that can make you want to run and drown it all out again. But by learning to embrace these moments, by learning to be okay with being alone, we can better process all the unseen and unspoken tension wearing us down. It’s a sentiment perfectly suited to Jenny Kern’s signature introspective style. With this new track from her forthcoming EP, full of fine details to discover on further listens, Jenny’s dreamy vocals and the slow burning soundscape provides all the company you need for a quiet night of reflection.

Top Tracks: Tom Speight – Everything’s Waiting For You

Sometimes it’s hard to envisage a way out of the darkness. Hard to keep grounded when surrounded by uncertainty. No matter how hard people try to convince you that everything will all work out in the end, when you’re at your lowest, the tempest raging inside your mind simply won’t allow you to believe them. But where words fail, being present in the moment can make a world of difference. It’s one thing simply to say that brighter days are coming, it’s something else entirely to stick by someone’s side until they do. With his anthemic new single ‘Everything’s Waiting For You’, singer/songwriter Tom Speight offers a timely reminder not to let those we care about face their darkness alone.  To say this is a song about riding out the storm together does it a disservice however, as there’s a resolute defiance and a feeling of triumph that makes this track so much more grand and uplifting. It’s a track about outrunning the storm. It grabs you by the hand and carries you through the rain, and keeps on going until the clouds are but a distant memory and the promised clear skies lie before you.

Top Tracks: Talia Mar – Jack

The tantalising tingle that spreads like wildfire across your skin, feeling your blood rush like a river bursting its banks as your heartbeat quickens, the way your head spins as you find yourself completely lost in the moment. A destructive longing for a beguiling high that all begins with an innocent brush against your lips. Love is one hell of a drug, especially when it leads you to fall for someone who would rather find that same high through other means. With ‘Jack’ Talia Mar weaves together two tales of addiction, two sides of the same story. One side increasingly dependent on alcohol as a means of escape, the other still clinging to a partner “more toxic and poisonous than the liquid in that cup”, both unable to break the pattern, holding on for the next rush of dopamine no matter the cost. Musically ‘Jack’ is every bit as intoxicating and addictive as the story it tells. Building from sparse yet sumptuous piano to an enthralling and hard-hitting electropop chorus, Talia’s beautifully bewitching vocals leave you hanging on her every word. It’s a wonderfully irresistible track that will keep tempting you back for another round time after time. (Spotify)

Top Tracks: Jesse Michael – Made For This

It’s hard to chase a creative dream (music especially) even at the best of times. In choosing to carve a path fraught with uncertainty and doubt, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle for every small piece of progress all on your own. All the while being told by people you know that you’re simply chasing a pipe dream. Moving into the new year, taking a moment to reflect on all the added challenge and hardship brought on by the mess that was 2020, I imagine there are plenty of creatives feeling hopeless and lost right now. This is a song for them. A song for anyone who has decided to pursue their passion and is currently facing a crisis of faith. With ‘Made For This’ singer/songwriter Jesse Michael offers a comforting reminder why people choose the road less travelled in the first place. When you truly love something, when it brings you a joy unlike anything else and forms an integral part of who you are, then it’s a dream worth fighting for with every last breath. It’s a message that I will gladly echo to any doubting artist, Jesse himself included; keep going.

Top Tracks: George Boomsma – Chinatown

Some music just instantly evokes a certain season. There’s something about the seminal folk style of Nick Drake for instance that to my mind feels deeply rooted in autumn. It just naturally ends up conjuring images of golden leaves caught in the breeze, of watching the rain tumble down your window pane, and of a bonfire’s embers rising into the night sky. With ‘Chinatown’, the title track of his latest EP, singer/songwriter George Boomsma brings a shift in seasons to his Nick Drake inspired sound. All the familiar hallmarks are there – the wistful wandering acoustic guitar, the soft spoken vocals, the elegant string arrangements and the raw and rustic production style – but George’s own romantic lyricism adds a kind of warmth to the mix. Somehow ‘Chinatown’ instead conjures images of an idyllic summer; of picnics in the park, walking hand-in-hand along the riverbank, and of a love growing and blossoming like a field of wildflowers. With a grim and uncertain winter ahead of us, here is a track whose comforting folk style is perfect for getting cosy with, but which also offers a promise of brighter days ahead.

Top Tracks: Brian Elliot – Better Than Dead

They say that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but I’ve always had my doubts. It can be very hard to subscribe to that way of thinking when you find yourself consumed by heartbreak. You can’t miss what you’ve never known. If you never met that person, never gave them your heart unreservedly, then you would live in ignorant bliss without knowing just how happy they could make you feel. To my mind experiencing a joy like no other, only to lose that feeling and have your heart torn asunder, seems like a far more torturous prospect. Lyrically, ‘Better Than Dead’ is about being haunted by the echoes of the past. Struggling to drown out the deafening silence that their absence has left. Seeing reminders of better times and feeling the sting of knowing that it’s now all just a fading memory. Musically however, this new track from indie maestro Brian Elliot magnificently maintains a calm and cool exterior, like wearing a smile to hide the hurt. With sweeping string arrangements, a wonderfully retro Super 8 music video, and crooning vocals reminiscent of Alex Turner, this cinematic new single from his forthcoming debut Familiar Walk To Nowhere feels effortlessly elegant and thoroughly engrossing.

Top Tracks: T. Evann – Clearer

Occasionally the right song will fall into your life just when you need it most, to say exactly what you need to hear. This year has seen the blog busier than ever, and at times I’ve been drowning under the weight of submissions and the pressure to cover as many as possible. Whenever writer’s block hits and throws a spanner in the works, putting me even further behind, it’s hard not to see it as a failure, as me letting people down. ‘Clearer’, the new track from London based producer and songwriter T. Evann, is just the reminder I needed that those stagnant phases are all part of the process. You wouldn’t push any other part of your body to be firing on all cylinders without time to rest and recuperate, so we owe it to ourselves to give the creative side of our brains a break every now and then. Rather than banging your head against the wall, take a step back and trust that there’s a fresh burst of inspiration waiting just ahead. Taken from his upcoming EP Headblush, out 8th December, ‘Clearer’ carries a timeless psychedelic sound. Its warm summery tones offering a welcoming embrace, the soothing laidback vibes breaking down the stress brick by brick, while the swirling vibrant soundscapes are just what you need to untether your imagination.

Top Tracks: Sophie Morgan – Unwinnable War

The best things in life are worth fighting for, even if it occasionally means clashing with those we care about. Even with those we hold closest to our hearts, the ones we love and our dearest friends and family, you’re likely to fall out every once in a while. The mark of a strong relationship isn’t making out that everything is perfect, but through confronting problems and ultimately emerging stronger on the other side. That said, sometimes we can find ourselves chasing an “other side” that simply isn’t there. You can end up fighting tooth and nail with someone to keep them in your life, only to be blinded to the fact that the fight is all you know. ‘Unwinnable War’ is the realisation that they’re not worth the energy. Belwood favourite Sophie Morgan has really outdone herself with this latest single. Her vocals carry the same distinctive warmth and elegance as ever, and yet somehow every sublime lyric seems to roll off her tongue with more clarity and meaning than ever before. The soft and sparse arrangement swaying back and forth, punctuated with a brief mournful howl of guitar. The bittersweet melodies that tug at your heartstrings and linger in your thoughts. There’s no fight when it comes to loving this song, it welcomes you with open arms. This stunning single is a poignant reminder that sometimes the bravest course you can take isn’t to keep fighting, but to admit that it’s time to walk away.

Top Tracks: Old Sea Brigade – How It Works

The music industry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; beneath all the glitz and glamour there are some toxic folk around. More specifically, there have always been the petty few who get their kicks through gatekeeping. Eager to lord whatever meagre power they posses over new acts and dangle the promise of success over them. Things are getting better, but as in all things change for the better makes slow progress, and there are still those who cling to the old ways and insist “that’s just how it works”. Drawing from his own experiences within the industry, and having been on the receiving end of those exact same words, Nashville based singer/songwriter Ben Cramer reflects on the struggle for change with the latest single under his Old Sea Brigade moniker. Being told ‘How It Works’ doesn’t just apply to music though, it’s something we hear about all the many broken parts of society that hold people back. The hazy Americana arrangement and enthralling earworm melodies make this the ideal song to sit back and reflect on the slow march of progress around you. ‘How It Works’ is a song of real substance, and the accompanying video, of a wonderfully cinematic Western shootout in the Mojave Desert, compliments it with an extra dash of style to boot.

Top Tracks: Lawson Hull – College Town

I’m fairly sure there’s a longing to escape ingrained within all of us. There comes a time in your youth where there’s nothing you desire more than to get away from the dead end town you grew up in and make your own way in the world. Meet new people, see the city lights, live out your dreams. The dismay of feeling trapped is one thing, but it’s nothing compared to the feeling of breaking free, spreading your wings at last, only to then come crashing back down to the same old dead end town. With ‘College Town’, Australian singer/songwriter Lawson Hull perfectly captures the sense of quiet defeat that comes with being stuck in a familiar cage. Taken from his debut EP Dreaming is Easy, the sadness and regret of his latest single really hits home with lines like “I shouldn’t be out here in the prime of my life”. Underneath it all however, there’s a warmth and familiarity to ‘College Town’ that feels like coming home. The way the track interweaves the sadness, the yearning for something greater, with the warm glow of nostalgia and an unspoken sense of acceptance, serves as a poignant reminder that sometimes it’s better the devil you know.