Top Tracks: Quiet Sonia – Fragments

I’ve heard it said that art is how we decorate space, while music is how we decorate time. But some pieces of music seem to almost bend time to their own designs in a way that goes far beyond mere decoration. Some music can leave you so absorbed, that an age can pass and yet feel only like a fleeting moment. ‘Fragments’, from Copenhagen based chamber rock outfit Quiet Sonia, is just such a track. Though it takes you on a journey, it does not whisk you away with any sense of urgency. It’s a slow burner that shifts gradually from one elegant vignette to the next, while savouring the stillness in between. The deep brooding baritone of Nikolaj Bruus, reflective stream of consciousness style lyricism reminiscent of latter day Nick Cave, the interplay of cinematic strings, bright piano melodies and soft autumnal folk guitar; all these elements unfurl slowly to reveal their beauty. And yet, somehow, this sparse and sprawling eight minute opus feels so ephemeral and fleeting that you can’t help but want to stay awhile longer all the same.

Top Tracks: Braden Lam – White Dress

Love has a way of enduring. Its roots run deep, entwined within our very souls, sometimes to the point where that connection can feel like a defining part of who you are. In the best of worlds, where that connection is shared, it produces a love that can weather the harshest storms. But for a love lost or unrequited, it means it can linger and hold you back from moving on, blooming again when you thought it long withered and gone. ‘White Dress’, the latest single from Canadian singer/songwriter Braden Lam, is a story about the inner upheaval of attending your best friend’s wedding and wishing you were the one up there with them. Allowing yourself one last moment to dream of a future that will never be, and grieve for a love that never was, before uprooting your entangled heart to free yourself for whatever comes next. With vocals reminiscent of Belwood favourites Amber Run, a chorus teeming with charm, and the odd line that will floor you if it catches you just right, this wistful waltz is a gorgeous epitaph for a love finally laid to rest. 

Top Tracks: James Crowley – Kerosene

I remember once reading a piece of advice for social anxiety that said: when you walk into a room you imagine everyone analysing you intently, yet when someone else walks in the room you personally wouldn’t give them a second thought. And it’s true, that sort of deep reading we imagine from everyone’s gaze is the kind of thing most of us reserve for the people we’re most invested in. It’s often only when someone has your heart in the palm of their hand that you search for the significance in every gesture, the connection in every passing glance, the deeper meaning behind every word. In a sense, the bittersweet haze of ‘Kerosene’ is about the opposite of our walk-in-the-room scenario; looking into someone’s eyes hoping to see that same devoted gaze staring back at you, and instead seeing the cool aloof glance of a stranger. That realisation of the other person not being as invested in the relationship, and that fear you’ll always be the one looking for meaning where there is none, is expertly captured in the haunting mellotron swells and withdrawn, distant vocal effects. Anyone that’s known what it’s like to long for a deeper connection will almost certainly find something to connect with here.

Top Tracks: Hannah Grace – Always Been a Dreamer

I’ve heard it said that youth is wasted on the young, and I think in a way the same is true about Christmas. While there’s undeniably something precious and magical about Christmas morning as a kid, it’s also the case that the whole world seems a lot more magical when viewed through the eyes of a child. So much of that fades as we grow older, the spark dims as we get swept up in the seriousness of adult life and the responsibilities that come with it. With all the stress and expense of the holidays, it would be all too easy to let childish dreams fall by the wayside at Christmas as they already have in so many other facets of our lives. With her new festive single ‘Always Been a Dreamer’, the sensational Hannah Grace shares the desire to cling on tightly to that last bit of magic. Taking time out with those we love, giving generously just to spread joy, hoping and believing, for that short while, in a better world. When we spend the bulk of our days flitting between humdrum and hardship, a little bit of wonder can go a long way. And with an arrangement that sparkles and shimmers like the most angelic of lights, and vocals as warm and comforting as a cosy evening by a roaring fire, Hannah’s latest is nothing short of wonderful.

Top Tracks: Ren Lawton – Cold Afternoon

Where has the time gone? Summer fell away into to autumn while our backs were turned, and now winter is waiting just around the corner. Life just seems to move by at a relentless pace, days slipping between your fingers like grains of sand. And with Christmas creeping ever closer, for many of us it’s the busiest time of year. But at least we can say, waiting at the end of it, is some well earned respite. A rare moment of peace and togetherness worth cherishing. With it’s delicate waltzing folk arrangement, airy vocals and warm subtle whispers of harmonica, this new festive fare from Belwood favourite Ren Lawton perfectly captures the quiet beauty of the festive season. For me, ‘Cold Afternoon’ embodies that blissful limbo between Christmas and New Year; that period where time loses all meaning, where the deadlines and responsibilities you chart your life by seem to just fall by the wayside, and instead all that matters is being surrounded by the people you hold dear. Like a glance through a frosty window at some picturesque Christmas vignette, the charming intimate reverie of ‘Cold Afternoon’ is just the thing to warm your heart on a busy winter’s day.

Top Tracks: Tommy Ashby – Not That Far To Go

Anyone prone to overthinking, that often finds themselves gripped by worries in the small hours, will have been told at many different points over the years “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Don’t let trivial things weigh on your mind when they’re nothing more than fleeting moments in time. The trouble is, fleeting moments are all we have. Life is nothing but a constant stream of the small stuff, tiny mosaic pieces of our time spent on this Earth. With his new single ‘Not That Far To Go’, Scottish singer/songwriter Tommy Ashby offers a fresh perspective on those fleeting fragments that occupy our thoughts. Against a serene haze akin to a misty morning, with a driving rhythm and lush comforting melodies, the track implores you to dedicate as much of your attention to the ephemeral flashes of joy that make life worth living as you do those anxious thoughts that dwell on things that can’t be changed. The small stuff is all we have, so we owe it to ourselves to experience all aspects of it. Being lost and afraid is part of being human, allow yourself to feel it, just don’t let it get in the way of the bigger picture.

Top Tracks: Cristina Hart – Never Be Her

If the measure of an emotion is in how hard it is to keep contained, then jealousy is surely one of the strongest. Raw and seething, like a broiling cauldron set to overflow, drawing on all your fears and deepest insecurities for ammunition, it can all too easily overcome you if you let it. Belwood favourite Cristina Hart instead manages to channel all that fire and venom into forging her best single to date. ‘Never Be Her’ takes the relatable self-aware lyricism and irresistible hooks we’ve come to know and love, and just turns the passion and drive up a few notches with a snappy, volatile pop punk arrangement reminiscent of Olivia Rodrigo at her very best. Offering a cathartic release for that awful toxic feeling that burns in your veins upon seeing your ex with someone new, it also serves as a welcome reminder not to put others on a pedestal, especially when you find yourself putting your own flaws under the microscope. A toxin as potent as jealousy needs to be cleared out before we can find room to grow, and there’s no better release that comes to mind than this electrifying indie pop anthem.

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – Heaven

I think most people, when asked what they’d wish for if they had one wish, would tend to fall back on the same few answers: wealth, love, fame etc. In close contention however, is the option of a second chance. Seemingly more so now than ever, we all find ourselves longing to be able to share with our younger selves all that we’ve come to know and learn. The answers to the questions we struggled with, the lessons that we learned through hardship, the mistakes we now look back on older and wiser. To be able to know those things you stress about won’t matter in the end, to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a dark place, to be able to see yourself reaching heights you thought you’d never reach or carrying a weight you thought you could never bear. That’s priceless. With ‘Heaven’ Belwood favourite Natalie Shay shares with her younger self all the growth and self-discovery that recent years have brought. Taken from her new EP MILK, her words share the personal journey of how she’s grown as a person, and in the exemplary pop songwriting all can hear plain as day just how much she’s grown as an artist these past few years.

Top Tracks: The A.M.s – Smoke

Each and every moment is, by its very nature, fleeting. Try as we might to long to hold on a little longer, time must inevitably march on; as futile as trying to catch smoke, it will always slip through your fingers eventually. But smoke lingers – it hangs in the air, clings on to whatever refuge it can find, and remains long after the last embers have dulled to ash. A moment may pass, but sometimes the memory of it can last a lifetime. Americana duo The A.M.s have elegantly captured that wistful sense of reminiscence and reflection with the latest single from their forthcoming debut album Ignite The Sky. Combining bright piano tones, a dash of jazz in its intricate and engaging percussion, and an expressive autumnal folk arrangement that evokes Nick Drake, ‘Smoke’ is a warm and welcoming recollection of treasured nights of togetherness shared around the campfire. Much as those last few wisps of smoke still persist, so too does this track stay with you.

Top Tracks: The Little Kicks – Right To Be Here

No one else tears us down half as much as that little voice in the back of our own minds. The one that tries to convince you that you’ll fall flat on your face every time you step out of your comfort zone, the one that belittles and trivializes your every accomplishment, the one that says you’re perpetually two steps behind everyone else. It’s something we all hear nattering away on the side-lines now and then, but it becomes all the louder when working in a creative industry like music. Imposter syndrome works overtime to undermine everything you’ve built. With ‘Right To Be Here’ Aberdeen indie outfit The Little Kicks offer a firm and defiant stand against that debilitating fear and doubt. Taken from their forthcoming album People Need Love, out 30th September, the Scottish rockers’ latest single boasts warm soulful vibes, an understated funky groove, and a sense of elegance and grandeur to its immaculately produced arrangement that all comes to a head in its uplifting climax. In an age of doubt and self-deprecation, taking pride in yourself becomes a radical act, and never before has that particular sin sounded quite so heavenly.