When I’m feeling lost or lonely I often find the best remedy is to sit outside and try to feel one with the world. Close your eyes, feel the wind brush against your skin, hear the birds singing, and try to feel like a part of something greater. It’s something that I’ve struggled to put into words in the past, but I feel like the new song from Woods End manages to express it perfectly. The spiralling melodies recalling flocks of birds spiralling in the sky, the soft swell of cymbals like waves crashing upon the shore, it’s dark subdued atmosphere hanging over you like a thin veil of mist; they write tracks that feel in tune with nature like no one else. But in its calls of “how I got here I don’t know” it also captures that feeling of being adrift and alone, offering solace in the fact that you’re not the only one looking for meaning.
Glen Hansard – This Wild Willing
Folk | Alternative
Is art something we create, or something that lives through us? Like how the energy of all living things carries on in the big circle of life; someone creates a work of art that inspires someone else, which in turn inspires someone else and so forth. Whoever made the painting that adorned the childhood home of Sweden based singer/songwriter James Auger would likely never have expected that it would end up inspiring a song like ‘Southwest of the Moon’. Likewise I imagine James (under his Choir of Ghosts moniker) will never truly know the reach of this track from his forthcoming debut album An Ounce Of Gold. But with its rich imagery, vocals reminiscent of The Decemberists, and plenty of heartwarming fireside folk vibes, I’m quite certain it will leave its mark and take root in people’s imaginations.
They say the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes, but I’d say we can throw just general adversity into that category too. And as much as we dislike them, they all serve a purpose. We all face hardship at some point, but in overcoming it we can hope to grow and become wiser and better people. Written by frontwoman Elodie Tomlinson during a time of struggle and subsequent self-discovery, ‘GWTC’ (gone with the city) is a song that knows all about growth. The airy intro slowly gathers itself together, and draws you in with it, before kicking into overdrive as it reaches a rewarding climax complete with soaring guitar tones and lush melodies. This LA band wear their heart on their sleeve with this new single, and manage to make such a raw track feel almost effortless.
We spend a lot of time looking for something new and exciting, but sometimes you just can’t beat something old-school. When a style is tried and tested sometimes there is little to gain by trying to change a winning formula, instead you just have to do your best to put your own stamp on it. I’d say Canadian singer/songwriter Lydia Persaud has done that to a tee with her new single ‘More of Me’. Taken from her forthcoming debut album Let Me Show You out 10th May, it channels the very best of soul and Motown as it focuses on a struggle to trust and be trusted in return in a relationship. Her stirring vocals, the warm vintage guitar tone, and the dash of funk in the rhythm section, makes this a track that makes you (ironically) want to call out for more!
Time was that an artist would (understandably) try to make their mark on the world with their debut album. These days however things are a bit different. A first album is something that artists now build towards. It comes after building a buzz and a following with a series of singles and EPs. Now artists try and make their mark with their first EP, which can present much more of a challenge. Instead of summing up who you are, what you do, and what you’re capable of across a dozen tracks, they’re now forced to do the same with only a handful at their disposal.
This doesn’t seem to present an issue however for Canadian singer/songwriter J.K. Matthews. On his debut EP Youth he manages to encapsulate a broad scope of influences, to bottle his multifaceted talents into just a handful of songs. ‘Thick Skin’ and ‘The Blue’ are anthemic indie tracks, bubbling with positive energy and bright melodies. ‘Fool Outta Me’ is a heavy foot-stomping blues powerhouse, the lo-fi ‘Workman’s Blues’ has all the heart of classic country, while the nostalgia driven title track reels you in with its airy take on Americana. With Youth Matthews has succinctly summed up exactly why he’s one to watch. He’s shown that no matter what path he chooses to follow it can lead to something great.
Fans of City and Colour and John Mayer should check out J.K. Matthews debut EP Youth.
What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and Katie from Belwood favourites The Lunar Year sounds just as divine when releasing music under a new solo name. ‘Put You Away’ is a beautifully assured first venture under her new moniker Katie Bird. It opens with just soft acoustic guitar and her crystal clear vocals; delicate yet at the same time all-consuming, like awaking on a winter morning to a world gripped by ice and frost. Gentle piano melodies slowly start to fall into place, each note ringing out like falling water droplets from the thaw. As it draws to a close the song ends on a high as the arrangement expands into something more warm, lush and inviting. It’s like a golden sunrise announcing the arrival of spring, and just melting your heart along with it.
In my head I tend break down Americana into two different sides of the coin, what I like to call “neon and gold”. Belwood favourites Evening Darling are already well acquainted with the latter; the warm and inviting side that soundtracks the open road, golden summer days, and a lust for adventure. With their new single ‘Invitations’ however they explore their darker side and shift into “neon” territory. A more bittersweet, indie-tinged affair that instead conjures up images of a night spent wandering under city lights in search of meaning. Penned from the perspective of someone gripped by obsession, the contemplative atmosphere and haunting backing vocals do a superb job of adding to the feeling of being lost and alone. With a driving bass line, shimmering synths, and all the moving melodies you could ever ask for thanks to Erica Lane’s mesmeric vocals, it seems Evening Darling are just as at home under neon lights as under golden sunsets. The band have expertly expanded their sound, while still remaining true to who they are.
Here is a track that revels in the two most powerful forces known to man: love, and nature herself. Recorded in Eype Church in Bridport, this stunning single is about as elegant and entrancing as they come. Inspired by the English coastline, and a love affair as tumultuous as the waves crashing upon the shore, this classically inspired track carries a profound ageless quality. ‘When She’s In That Mood’, taken from Mesadorm’s forthcoming album Epicadus out 19th April, talks of a love as wild, as unpredictable, and as all-consuming as the ocean itself. To look out from the coast at the endless untameable sea before you, small and powerless to its whim, is what it is to surrender your heart to someone completely. It can so easily sweep you away, but its call remains inescapable.
How would you face your end? If you were staring down the barrel of the end of everything you know, what would be going through your mind? It’s a pretty dark and unique focus in terms of songwriting, and Rich Jacques brings it to life in this introspective new solo track inspired by 2018’s false missile alert in Hawaii. When faced with the eponymous oblivion, JACQ reacts here with admirable tranquility, taking time to savour those final moments instead of spending them in fear of the unknown. Indeed, it turns a terrifying situation into a dreamy love ballad. Revelling in the fact that not a single moment is wasted when it’s spend with someone you love, embracing death with no regrets and leaving this world thinking of the one who holds your heart. It’s such a profoundly powerful message and JACQ delivers it beautifully.