At this point it’s become easy to take these last couple of years for granted. We resign ourselves to keeping busy and trying to maintain routines without stopping to take stock of just how much strain we’ve been under. All the cracks in our psyche that have deepened, and the fresh ones that have formed, thanks to all the isolation and uncertainty. It becomes this scared little whisper in the void that we ourselves refuse to even acknowledge, never mind share with others. With her debut EP I Never Thought That You Were Listening, Canadian born singer/songwriter Jenny Kern superbly expresses the sense of solitude and deafening silence that we’ve all been facing; capturing the zeitgeist of the new normal and the lessons we can take forward from it. What’s more this Belwood favourite adorns her introspection with such cinematic synthscapes and mesmerising melodies. Evoking the eerie glow of city streets in the still of night, it paints the perfect expanse for Jenny’s poignant musings to echo against. Continue reading
The Ophelias – Crocus
Baroque Pop | Indie Rock
It’s rare to get a second chance at a first impression. In part because it’s equally rare for us to get a break from the hectic humdrum of modern life to afford us a moment for reflection and reinvention. But then again, it’s not every day that the whole world grinds to a halt, and offers up an unparalleled opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. It was an opportunity that transatlantic duo Samuel Taylor and Rebecca Van Cleave seized to the fullest, and in doing so found the missing piece, the essential capstone, for their latest musical endeavour. Embracing life in the slow lane while recording in the Peak District village of Tideswell, the pair developed a deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature around them, as well as for the profound power of human connections and the joy of collaboration. All the things that we all too often take for granted came into focus, and in doing so informed and inspired what would become their debut EP And You, And Me. Continue reading
A lone wolf will howl up at the moon, its cries carrying for miles across dense forests, mountain peaks and frigid open tundra, in the hope of reaching those it cares about. Their bonds are so strong that distance doesn’t matter; when they need each other they will call out. It’s a beautiful notion, and one that we could stand to learn from, as when we feel at our most alone is usually when we fall quiet. There’s no calling out into the night, often not even a quick message, instead opting to suffer in silence. With his new single, mehro offers a glimpse into that sense of isolation. The restless nights, the tempestuous thoughts, the feeling of missing someone so much that you’re left treading water with no respite in sight. And yet, as everything comes crumbling down and your head sinks beneath the surface, you still can’t find the strength to say “I need you”. With its soft wistful folk arrangement, cold subtle electronics, and mehro’s own plaintive cries harmonising with haunting wolf howls, this stunning single offers some comfort in knowing we’re not alone in feeling alone.
Foy Vance – Signs of Life
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.