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.
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.
“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.
Especially in such uncertain times as these, it is easy to feel lost in a sea of possibility. So much of what the future holds is a mystery, so much of our lives is left up to chance. When you stop and think about it you realise that everything that lies before us is unknown. We have no idea if we’re following the right path or hurtling headlong towards failure. Perhaps there is no path, no rhyme and reason to it all, and we’re just caught on the breeze following the whims of fate. It’s a daunting prospect, like standing on the shore staring out at a seemingly endless ocean, the vast unknown leaving you feeling insignificant and adrift. You can try to run from that feeling, or you can follow the call of ‘Open Sea’ and embrace it. This stunning single invites you to open your heart to uncertainty. To welcome the endless possibilities with open arms and see the daunting expanse as a sign that there a greater things out there than what you think you know. From it’s bittersweet, dreamlike haze, tinged with apprehension, the sudden of thunder of drums echo the beating of your heart as you take the plunge and let the waves take you where they will.
Sometimes the voice that most commands a room and seizes your utmost attention is not a roar, but a whisper. A hypnotic hush that seems to almost ride the silence rather than break it, that calls upon you to drop everything and take in every exquisite detail. The arresting hushed vocals of Billie Flynn offer just such an experience with her spellbinding debut single ‘Hey Stranger’. Her beautifully hazy and wistful performance adds to the emotional weight of an already moving track. Detailing that moment of introspection that comes from bumping into someone who’s no longer a part of your life, and how somewhere amongst all the thoughts of nostalgia, curiosity and regret, you find yourself wondering how they see you now and what they think of the person you’ve become. With vocals as ethereal and enchanting as a misty morning, an understated soundscape that conjures images of the rise and fall of waves upon the shore by her home on the Cornish coast, and a warmth like the parting golden glow of a summer sunset, ‘Hey Stranger’ is an absolute delight. Billie Flynn is an inspired new signing for Gabrielle Aplin’s Never Fade Records, and after such an assured debut single I’m eager to hear more.
I don’t think we’ve given ourselves enough credit for everything we endured in 2020. We all likely found our mental health dragged down numerous times throughout the pandemic by the dread and stress of it all. Just when it seemed like there was light at the end of the tunnel, you’d find your spirit faltering under the strain once again; and by the time you’d finished picking up the pieces, convincing yourself that things had turned around, the whole vicious cycle just starts over again. It’s frustrating, it’s tiring, and it’s a struggle that’s deftly depicted in the new single by rising star Emilia Tarrant. But while ‘Here You Are, Again’ was inspired by the lows of lockdown, for many it’s a familiar struggle even when not in unprecedented times. Recovery isn’t a straight path up and out, setbacks always strike out of the blue at the most random and difficult times, and Emilia’s candid lyricism will feel familiar and comforting no matter what burden you carry. With a strong and assured vocal performance, and an enticing slow-burning atmosphere that knows when to hold back, this raw and thoughtful track marks out Emilia Tarrant as one to watch.
I can categorically say that I’m not a morning person, and I’m willing to bet that most people feel much the same way. Most mornings however, aren’t half as blissful and heart-warming as those detailed in ‘Leave Me Light’. I imagine we’d all be morning people if we were lucky enough to greet the day in the fashion described in the new single from London based singer/songwriter FERGUS. Describing a tranquil morning spent savouring the soft caress of the one you love, basking in every second shared together before it’s time to get up and face the world, this track hones in on the beauty found within the smallest moments. Likewise you’ll find yourself wanting to revel in every detail of this charming track; the vivid yet relatable imagery, the delicate soothing folk arrangement of the first half of the song, and the slick R&B flourishes and solo guitar work in the latter half. ‘Leave Me Light is a brilliant reminder that true love isn’t about grand gestures of devotion, but about finding someone that makes every mundane morning feel like a fairy tale.
If there’s any positive I can take away from the seemingly endless months spent in lockdown, it is a greater appreciation for my home in the countryside. For years I quietly resented being out in the middle of nowhere, feeling detached from all the exciting hustle and bustle of city streets. But with life grinding to a halt, I found there’s no place I’d rather be right now. Where once I envied friends in the fast lane, I now wish I could share my oasis with them and offer an escape from their cramped boxes in an empty concrete jungle. The morning chorus of birdsong that welcomes you to a new day, the cool caress of the summer breeze against your skin, lush fields of wildflowers and the delicate flutter of butterflies adding much needed colour to the greyest of days. Even something so simple as the fresh air in your lungs and the warm sun beaming down, the kind of things you take for granted, do so much to bring a lightness to your heart. Singer/songwriter Michael Lane is distinctly familiar with that sense of comfort and release that nature brings on his brand new single ‘Moon & Sun’. This beautifully bright folk tune shares the uplifting spiritual sensation of basking in the everyday marvels around you. The life-affirming feeling that you’re a small part of this vast wondrous world around you, and that it in turn is a part of you.
There’s an odd sense of solace that comes from feeling small and inconsequential. We feel it most in the bittersweet tranquility that comes from gazing up at the stars, or in this instance from watching the rhythmic crashing of waves upon the shore. Staring out from the sand at a vast expanse of rolling ocean, stretching beyond the horizon, somehow makes you and all the worries holding you down feel insignificant by comparison. Watching waves dash upon rocks and race along sandy beaches before retreating back – same as they always have, and as ever they will – offers some comfort in their constancy when so much in life feels uncertain. With their new single ‘Waves Poem’, Irish trio All The Luck In The World capture that feeling brilliantly with a blend of vivid imagery and compelling soundscapes. Taken from their forthcoming album How The Ash Felt, it marries the soft shimmer of their affecting introspective folk style, with layered grandiose instrumentation and hints of glitchy electronica that recalls Bon Iver’s self-titled, and feels every bit as expansive and spellbinding as the ever swirling sea it depicts.
Quite often the spark that drives me, and I would hope all music writers, is the one that comes from finding a diamond in the rough. Hearing a new track full of promise from an up-and-coming artist and just being completely captivated by the sense of possibility, and looking forward to watching them grow. Hearing some interesting style or engaging melodies, envisioning how it can be built upon further down the line, and singing its praises from the rooftops to give it a nudge (however small) to help reach that point. ‘Vampire’ is not one of those tracks. It’s no diamond in the rough, rather it’s already perfectly cut, full of fire and brimming with brilliance. Nashville based artist Reed Gaines offers an assured performance, and delivers a song that any big name band would proudly parade as a new lead single. The anthemically bittersweet melodies and driving drums immediately recall The National’s ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’, but the quiet dignity of Reed’s hushed vocal style and some smatterings of elegant piano and spaced out synths in the closing moments manage to add his own unique stamp upon it. ‘Vampire’ is such a triumph that almost the opposite is true and it’s hard to see just how it can be built upon… but I’m looking forward to finding out.