Top Tracks: Ren Lawton – The World and Me

It’s hard not to fall for a free spirit. The kind of people that live out an existence that you could only dream of. The wanderers who spend their lives drawn to beauty and adventure, and in turn radiate that exact same allure to enrapture everyone they meet. Those people that seem to shirk off all the trappings of modern life, all the societal chains that drag the rest of us down, who we end up clinging to in the hope that they take us with them on their unfettered flight. Often the reason we fall for them is the same reason why we have to let them go. Though we may dream of it, most of us aren’t made for that life, but we’d rather lose a free spirit we love than to see such a rare bird caged. ‘The World and Me’ describes just such a love, however it takes the path less travelled. The one that leads to spreading your wings and taking flight with them rather than losing them. This latest track from Belwood favourite Ren Lawton is one of his most accomplished yet, with its heartwarming melodies, uplifting strings and a comforting caress of harmonica. It’s the kind of track that makes the world feel a brighter place. That despite how we may feel right now there is a fresh adventure waiting over the horizon.

Top Tracks: Ren – Willow

Many objects have what is called a resonant frequency. When they’re submitted to vibrations, such as sound waves, that match their unique frequency, they are amplified to sometimes destructive levels. It’s how opera singers can shatter wine glasses with just their voices; in a sense they sing in tune with the very essence of the glass so that it tears itself apart. I have a theory however that under the right circumstances, sound can do just the opposite. Sometimes a song like ‘Willow’ comes along and moves through you like it knows you better than you know yourself. It resonates with something deep within you, but rather than shake you apart and splinter your spirit, it pulls together the parts that were once broken and brings comfort and reassurance. The resplendent strings, gorgeous acoustic guitar and Ren’s soothing vocals make ‘Willow’ the kind of song that you don’t merely listen to, but rather you feel each note in every fibre of your being.

Top Tracks: Ren – Spencer Street

It’s curious how memories, even the most important defining experiences, fade over time. For most of us the finer details never seem to last. The scent of spring flowers, the way her eyes sparkled in the sunlight, the feeling of her hand in yours; all doomed to disappear in time. What lingers on, the spark of a memory that refuses to fade, is the way that moment made you feel. That’s what’s captured in Ren’s nostalgic look back on a former relationship in ‘Spencer Street’. It embodies the feeling of being in love and loved in return. The warm glow of knowing that there is a place and person that makes you feel at home, that makes you feel like you belong. Close your eyes and you can lose yourself in the sensation that all is well with the world. Even when time moves on, love fades, and the finer details get lost by the wayside, that feeling remains tucked away safe and sound deep down.

Top Tracks: REN – Blue Hounds

Belwood favourite REN is back with a brand new track, and my, ‘Blue Hounds’ is a curious one! There’s a real dichotomy at work here between the music and lyrics which on paper shouldn’t work, but in practice REN has pulled it off with real panache. Musically it is an example of introspective folk at it’s finest. A track in the same vein as Nick Drake that just makes you want to stare off into the distance, feel the breeze across your skin, and wonder what it all means. Lyrically however, it’s a politically minded rally cry. Inspired by Britain’s ongoing political clusterfuck, it takes careful aim at the government’s failings, as well as the darker fringes it’s been encouraging, and shares a call to stand firm against those that put themselves above the people. Each of these things, the airy folk vibe and scathing political commentary, are difficult enough tasks on their own, but to nail both as well as ‘Blue Hounds’ does is a real feat of songwriting.

Top Ten EPs of 2017

top ten epsWe’ve had top lists of singles and albums since the site started, but we’ve neglected an increasingly important part of the music industry: EPs. They are a chance for new artists to show the world what they are all about, and hence by looking at EPs we can see where music is headed and who might just be the next big thing. They also offer an opportunity for established artists to take a chance and explore something new without dedicating all their effort to a full album. Simply put, EPs are the lifeblood of the music industry, and here are the ones that impressed most in the past year:  Continue reading

Interview: Ren

renThese days singer/songwriters are ten-a-penny, but the best among them, those that genuinely move you and earn a place in your heart, are worth their weight in gold. Conor Owen, better known by his moniker Ren, is set to be one of the finest new acts to emerge this year. His debut EP is one of the most assured and affecting collections of songs you could hope to come across. I caught up with him to talk about the release:

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Spotlight!: Ren

renAn incalculable amount of new music passes through my headphones day in, day out; whether discovered on my own or found awaiting me in my inbox. With that in mind, it’s rare when a song comes along and genuinely blows me away. Such was my reaction when I first heard Ren’s sweeping folk single ‘The Coast’. The affecting melody, the sense of yearning and wanderlust; it’s the kind of song that speaks to a deep and tender part of our souls. His debut EP is just as moving as the track that first won my heart. The soulful little guitar solo that catches you off-guard at the end of ‘All That I Need’, the bittersweet, slow burning blues of ‘Late Night Drive’ and the rich imagery and loving nostalgia of ‘My Heart Belongs To Ireland’. All these achingly beautiful moments come together to create an unforgettable first release. Drawing inspiration from great singer/songwriters both classic and contemporary, Ren carves out his own little pedestal to make him stand out as a genuine artist. Ren is one of the most promising up-and-coming acts in the UK right now, with bigger and better things surely just over the horizon.

Ren’s debut EP A Calling from the Shore is out 24th February and is a must for fans of Foy Vance, The Staves, Seafret and Glen Hansard.

Top Tracks: Ren – The Coast

We are all gripped to some degree by a desire for something more, to expand our horizons. Few artists capture this wanderlust as well as singer/songwriter Conor Owen under his moniker Ren. Having already found success with his ode to the Emerald Isle ‘My Heart Belongs to Ireland’, his new upcoming single ‘The Coast’ continues with the theme of yearning to travel. Inspired by a life changing trip across Europe, ‘The Coast’ boasts the kind of bright, airy folk that is impossible not to love. With it’s achingly beautiful melody and Ren’s endearingly wistful vocals it sets a stunning and poignant atmosphere. It appeals to the sense of adventure in all of us and even if we can’t all have some life affirming whirlwind voyage, ‘The Coast’ takes you away on it’s own unique and memorable journey.