A folk and singer songwriter roundup – Lunchtime Playlist May 18

Caroline Lazar – “Georgia”
-Listen for the crack in Lazar’s voice in the first line. Isn’t that great? Sometimes I find an artist and think that I should just write “included without comment.” Lazar’s vocal is the real deal. The rest of the song supports her gentle and convincing storytelling. This is a wonderful song that seems to mash together several different genres for a broadly appealing relaxing song.

Noah Derksen – “Nothing”
-We’ve covered Derksen in the past, so I was excited to hear something new from him. He does not disappoint with this great new song “Nothing.” The phrasing and style remind me a bit of Ray Lamontagne. The easy going blues vibe is really easy to enjoy. If you like music from someone like Amos Lee, you’ll be a fan of what Derksen is up to with this thoughtful romantic song.

Cecilia Ebba – “Cerulean Blue”
-The atmospheric elements of this song from Cecilia are in position to perfectly highlight her outstanding vocals. It’s rare to find a vocalist who can handle such range with such clarity and precision. The lyrics form a bit of a puzzle, but are the kind that you’ll enjoy getting lost in admidst the beautiful acoustic guitar, strings, and of course Ebba’s vocals. This is almost psych folk in its composition, but it makes for a beautiful adventure.

Sean Christopher – “Don’t Panic”
-Christopher has a thoughtful way of delivering his lines. Each is placed with a deliberate message and clear annunciation. The guitar lays down a soft, but consistent basis for the lyrics. The song has a relaxed element to it that wonderfully conveys the sentiment of not panicking. This is one of the most cerebral and satisfying acoustic tracks we’ve found this year to date.

Lyman Ellerman – “The Addict”
-There’s nothing easy about the lyrics to this song; if you’ve ever had an addiction or known someone who has, it’s hard to hear. It’s an emotionally draining song. The music itself does a nice job of conveying the message of the lyrics. We tend to mostly cover old school country, but the authenticity dripped from this one so we had to give Ellerman some support. Let’s hope the right people who need to hear it will find it today.

Tyler F. Simmons – “Brown Eyed Girl”
-No, this isn’t a Van Morrison cover. In fact, it’s a wonderful original that makes reference to singing that classic to a girl that the protagonist is wooing. It’s actually a really intense acoustic track in a way. The chord structure holds a seriousness to it that’s hard to explain. It’s definitely not a happy go lucky romantic song. It’s more like the feeling of being enraputred. It’s worth giving it a spin.

Michelle Mandico – “Giant Love”
-When it comes to Americana singer songwriters in 2018, you can’t find much better than Michelle Mandico. From clever lyrics to intricate delivery, Mandico is performing at an extremely high level. The metaphor at the heart of this song of a giant works so perfectly for anyone who has ever experienced a relationship that can feel so daunting yet appealing. Her mix of metaphor and down to earth details makes for brilliant songwriting. I can’t wait to hear her full album soon.

Hat and Boots – “Feet”
-The soft spoken Elliott Smith style is often imitated, but most folks who try it are not able to make it work. Hat and Boots has a genuineness that allows the soft spoken vibe to work. In fact, the song develops and opens a bit, allowing the lead vocal to soar. It’s almost like watching a short film with a rising storyline, climax, and resolution. This is an intriguing song from a promising new artist.

Shlomo Franklin – “About Last Night”
-We’ve covered Franklin in the past so we were happy to get another song from him. This one goes in some interesting lyrical directions. It’s actually kind of gut wrenching to imagine what these two characters have been through. But if you’re looking for raw emotion and beautiful fingerpicking guitar work, this is definitely a track to consider. It’s moving if a bit unsettling.

Siren – “Someday”
-This song really warmed up to me throughout my first listen. The vocal is so good I was pulled in. The more I listened, though, I could feel something that was much deeper than the surface romantic song. It’s got a depth to it that seems… almost spiritual. It’s about looking back on a bygone relationship and coping with “breaking someone’s heart.” It’s emotionally driven and delightfully honest.

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