Top Tracks: Rett Madison – Skeptic’s Angels

No one is born bitter and jaded. When we first experience the world we do so with a steadfast sense of wonder. We see the best in ourselves and others, refuse to be divided down arbitrary lines, find joy in even the smallest things, and live our lives believing that anything is possible. And yet, little by little, the innocence and optimism in all of us gets eroded. Often the cracks form so slowly that you don’t even realise it, until one day your inner cynic becomes the dominant voice – you begin to see the worst in everything, and ultimately ask yourself “When did I first take for granted, Another sunset on this twisted planet?“. It’s as inevitable as the rising tide, but that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it without a fight. With the soulful ‘Skeptic’s Angels’, singer/songwriter Rett Madison offers a poignant moment of mourning for her own faith and innocence lost and asks the question “is it too late to believe?“. Taken from her debut album Pin-up Daddy, it’s another fine example of the fine balance between fire and fragility that is walked by her astonishing vocals. For many of us it gets harder with every passing day to believe in something greater and have faith in the good in others, but sometimes we all need to take a leap of faith to keep the light shining just a little longer.

Top Tracks: The Greatest Endangered Thing – Bramble Lane

There are plenty of wonderfully emotive songs out there which perfectly capture a feeling, like joy, or love, or heartbreak, and lots of tracks that evoke a certain point in time, expressing the mood of certain seasons or reminiscent of past decades. But one less heard and underappreciated facets of songwriting that holds a place in my heart is the kind of song that manages to embody the spirit and character of a certain place. Music that echoes the symphony of nature, lyrics that can vividly describe a stunning vista, songs which offer an escape by whisking you away someplace else. The latest single from The Greatest Endangered Thing is perhaps the finest example I’ve heard all year. Paired beautifully with some stunning cinematography from filmmaker Brett Chapman, ‘Bramble Lane’ plays as an evocative love letter to the Peak District. There’s a haunting mystique that conjures up the feel of misty moorlands and dark gnarled woods; ancient and unchanging like something from a long forgotten legend. Yet there’s also an air of romanticism that calls to mind the morning sun rising over heather-clad hills, that evokes birdsong and bright clear skies, and brings with it that same sense of freedom and sanctuary that comes with being off the beaten path.

Top Tracks: Ren Lawton – Love By Night

Often, despite our best intentions, life just gets in the way of the things we care about. We get so caught up in the day to day that we end up losing touch with people we hold dear, we get so wrapped up in hectic schedules that we don’t find the time to say what we’re really feeling. But then there are those rare occasions where we’re lucky enough to meet someone that inspires the opposite. A love so strong that you reach a point where the rest of the world is of no consequence, so long as you have each other. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or does to come between you, nor will you let any complication or expectations stand in the way. With a love like that you’d let the whole world fall to rust and ruin just for a few stolen moments together under the starlight. Such a tale of love and sacrifice lies at the heart of the latest single from Belwood favourite Ren Lawton. The first single from his upcoming debut album, the touching folk balladry of ‘Love By Night‘ speaks of a love that wins out against all the odds and in spite of all opposition, and offers a welcome reminder that beautiful things can still bloom in adversity.

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – New Wave

I remember once reading a great quote that said that we fall in love the same way we fall asleep – slowly, and then all at once. Both offer a tantalising tingle of what’s to come as they gradually wear down your defences, but at some point, without you even realising it, the dam breaks and it all just washes over you and sweeps you away. Belwood favourite Natalie Shay returns to capture the feeling of the moment when butterflies become a tidal wave with her euphoric new single. ‘New Wave’ describes the sensation of those bubbling emotions that you’ve been questioning so long suddenly all making sense, and the excitement of starting a new chapter. When you put your doubts and fears aside and open your heart to someone new, and open you mind to imagine what this new love has in store. Fittingly this latest single is perhaps her most vibrant and effervescent offering yet, with Natalie having refined and perfected her uplifting 80s aesthetic. The synths shimmer brighter than ever, the captivating chorus is one of her most infectious yet, and its joyous groove will have you jumping up to dance in no time flat. This dazzling single skips the slow part of falling in love, and instead you’re caught in the rush right from the first listen.

Top Tracks: Megan Dixon Hood – Third Lung

Tapping on the glass, like animals in a cage, we put ourselves in here, to find ourselves again“. If there’s a hunger in your heart for imaginative, environmentally-conscious epics, then there’s no better artist to sate your yearning than Belwood favourite Megan Dixon Hood. While she previously tackled the topic of our role in a rapidly changing world on her stunning single ‘The Wishing Tree‘ as seen through a fantastical lens, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. Her latest single ‘Third Lung‘ draws inspiration from the Biosphere 2 experiment, in which scientists tried to create and live within an artificial ecosystem as practice for maintaining life in space, but which ultimately failed due to a lack of oxygen. Much like many of us discovered through the course of lockdown, it shows how we take the delicate balance of the world around us for granted. How we’re a part of a grand and complex system whether we realise it or not, and the Earth in turn is a part of who we are and what keeps us going. Meanwhile the hubris of thinking you can create a new world without fully respecting and understanding the one we have now has harrowing parallels for our current approach to the changing climate. Creating a grand vibrant ecosystem all of her own, letting you discover something new with each listen, it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Megan Dixon Hood: soaring, poignant, downright danceable and an absolute delight.

Top Tracks: The Greatest Endangered Thing – Green, Blue

Having the world come grinding to a halt around you is incredibly jarring, especially so for those who found themselves taking their foot off the accelerator for the first time in forever. Suddenly all those burdens of modern society, and the pressure we keep placing on ourselves – the need to pack as much into a day as possible, tailoring your existence around expectations and deadlines, being all about the destination without sparing a thought for the journey – all that fell by the wayside. We suddenly found ourselves encouraged to literally stop and smell the flowers, and in doing so gained a new perspective on the things that truly matter. With their blissful debut single ‘Green, Blue‘, transatlantic duo The Greatest Endangered Thing embrace life in the slow lane. With the warm and welcoming country charm of violin and banjo, the perfectly matched mellow vocals of Samuel Taylor and Rebecca Van Cleave, and a delightful backing chorus of birdsong, it’s an idyllic reminder of the need to put the world on pause once in a while. To spend time with the people we love, bask in the beauty of the world around us, and above all trust that you’ll make it to wherever you’re headed in the end, so you may as well take the chance to savour every step you can along the way.

Top Tracks: Beth Crowley – In The End

When it comes to romance, they say that everyone has a “type”. Knowingly or not there are certain traits that draw you in and set your heart racing. I believe the same is true when it comes to music; you’ll come across a song and something about it will tick a very specific set of boxes that you never knew you had, and before too long you’re completely under its spell. With that in mind, I learnt something about myself thanks to ‘In The End’ – I have a type. It’s revealed to me that I adore tracks which play into my love of fantasy, that paint with grand, sweeping cinematic strokes, and that thrive in the darkness and entrance you with their witchy mystique. With her new single, Nashville based singer/songwriter Beth Crowley offers all that and more. Drawing inspiration from The Witcher, it weaves the tale of a star crossed romance destined for heartbreak and tragedy, but one whose passions burn so fiercely that both parties couldn’t bear to turn away, and each welcome such destruction as a small price to pay for a shared embrace. With its pounding drums, soaring strings and Beth’s impassioned performance, ‘In The End’ makes my heart flutter like a raven’s wings. It flickers and dances like a flame and feels every bit as bewitching.

Top Tracks: Billie Flynn – Someone’s Daughter

When you find yourself going through a rough time, the advice that “everything will work out in the end” often rings hollow. Merely imagining a light is rarely going to be enough to find your way out of the darkness. At a time when there’s so much uncertainty in our lives and the world around us, having another “maybe” for a silver lining can only offer so much comfort. Instead the best comfort comes from clinging to one of the few sources of certainty in our lives: family. With her gorgeous new single ‘Someone’s Daughter’, Cornish singer/songwriter Billie Flynn reflects on how no matter how long and difficult the road ahead seems, you never have to walk it alone. When the world feels harsh and unforgiving, you can rest a little easier knowing you have people who love you unconditionally, without a moment’s hesitation or regret. Whenever you see the worst in yourself, remember those that see you as the light in their life. With a haunting hazy arrangement and Billie’s bewitching gossamer voice, this new single seems to almost shimmer and hang in the air like sea fret in the morning sun. It’s a sublime and soothing backdrop for this beautiful reminder that whatever is beyond the horizon isn’t half as important as who you have right there in your corner.

Top Tracks: Mothé – Summer’s Almost Gone

They say a light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Looking back, that’s how I remember summers as a kid; packing as many adventures as possible into just a few short weeks before inevitably getting dragged back to school. For many of us, I think this summer has recaptured that feeling for the first time in a long while. Getting just a taste of freedom as restrictions ease up after so long in lockdown, there’s a desire to seize the day burning just beneath the surface. We’re emerging into the golden summer sun with a fresh sense of perspective, the wisdom to not take the little things for granted, and a need to make the most of this time that we’ve likely not felt since we were teenagers. ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’ not only captures that feeling, but also practices what it preaches, as Mothé ensures that not a second is wasted by saturating the track with gorgeous melodies. The lush dream pop soundscapes are vibrant and engaging, the emphatic bass groove is damn near irresistible, their wonderfully airy vocals are seeped with bittersweet nostalgia, and the incendiary guitar work that rises up from the ether to bring the track to a close is simply inspired. Consider this track an essential part of this summer’s soundtrack as you savour what remains of it.

Top Tracks: Lawson Hull – Fluke

It’s not like me to talk to strangers, but I knew there was something cool about you…“. I can understand why people don’t believe in love at first sight. Those whirlwind romances where people fall head over heels for each other in mere days or weeks, the kind you see time and again in Hollywood rom-coms, can most certainly happen, but they require all the cards to fall in your favour. Some chance encounter providing a first meeting, both parties being open and sharing the same wavelength right from the start as you get to know each other, both being swept up in the heat of the moment and someone having the guts to confess their feelings first. So much is left up in the air and has to land perfectly for it all to work out. But in those rare moments where fate and fortune do smile upon you, it’s the best damn fluke you could ever hope for. The new single from Australian singer/songwriter Lawson Hull captures the rush of such a romance, how it feels to admit what’s in your heart (both to them and to yourself), and hoping they’re falling as fast and as deep as you are. ‘Fluke’ is awash with gorgeous melodies and works its magic on you the same way every love does; slowly and gently at first, but before long it’s all around you like a giant wave just sweeping you away.