They say that every cloud has a silver lining. But when times are tough, when the sky is just a swirling tempest of grey stretching from horizon to horizon, that hopeful spark we so desperately long for can be hard to find. Though we’re often more resilient than we give ourselves credit for, trying to weather the storm and wait patiently for that bright sliver to show isn’t always the best option. This uplifting new song from Belwood favourite Hannah Grace presents a different approach; being the change you want to see in the world, by painting your own silver lining across the sky when there’s none to be found. With a beautifully understated arrangement that gives her golden vocals room to glow, it offers all the comfort and respite found in that moment of calm once the storm has passed. Taken from her forthcoming EP Devoted, out this July, it’s a gorgeous first peek at what this promising new chapter has in store.
As we leave the most vibrant visuals of 2022 behind us, it’s now time to dive right in to the best music to grace our ears this past year. The songs that soundtracked our ups and downs; that we belted out at the top of our lungs, that we took comfort and refuge in while they played on repeat, that took pride of place in our playlists and became an almost constant companion. Here are the songs that best capture this past year for us: Continue reading
I’ve heard it said many times that falling in love is something that happens slowly, then all at once. Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on what the point of no return was, one day a switched just flipped within you without you even realising. Other times though, the rush just hits and leaves you reeling. One moment you’re swept up in the current, and the next you’re over the precipice of the waterfall. ‘Call It Even’ won me over slowly at first. The soft airy arrangement, the subtle hints of background chatter that makes it feel like the outside world is fading into a blur when you press play. Boston based singer/songwriter Andie Mechanic’s crystal clear vocals, the rich melodies and relatable lyrics rooted in Swiftian sensibilities that speak of a struggle to move on. All of it set me on the course of falling for this track, but in the end it was one line that offered that final push: “we weren’t even real enough to have a real goodbye“. So simple and yet still so striking.
I think I’ll always be awed by the power people find in music to express themselves and share what’s in their heart. Sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp on what we’re feeling, let alone share it with someone else. But in using music as an artistic outlet, something about the process not only aids looking inwards, but also helps you find the words to describe what you find there. The sincere balladry of ‘That’s What You Do’ is a prime example: it details the whirlwind of fear and anxiety that precedes coming out; taking this heart-wrenching torrent of emotional uncertainty, by its very nature something almost impossible to articulate without your voice catching in your throat, and lays it all out clear as day. It’s a testament to the cathartic power of music, but more so to the songwriting talents of Freddy Hall. To bare your soul to the world is admirable in itself, but to translate all that pain and doubt that plagued you into something this breathtakingly elegant is the mark of something special.
While I’ll always appreciate a song that grows and shifts through the course of its runtime, there’s something to be said for the kind of song that just bursts out of the starting block fully formed with all its splendour on full display. ‘Signs’ is just such a track. This isn’t sitting back and letting a work of art slowly form before you brushstroke by brushstroke, this is a vibrant cascade of colour rippling outward like a shockwave as soon as brush touches canvas. This track from Swiss singer/songwriter René Grünenfelder, released under his moniker Mo Klé, just drops you right in the middle of its dazzling soundscape and gives you the guided tour of its wonders. The soft airy atmosphere breezes past you like a living watercolour, its blissful haze contrasted beautifully by the driving beat and soaring guitars that urge you to push you ever deeper into the wilderness. An absolute must for any wanderlust playlist worth its salt; the perfect soundtrack to your next adventure along the open road.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.