Alexander Wren – “Strangers Again”
-The slide guitar will make you think this is a country song, but don’t be deceived; this is a gorgeous gospel folk track. Some of the modern stylings in the background might throw you off, but rest assured this song is rooted in tradition. I love everything from the sentimental lyrics to the old fashioned chords. This is a beautiful song.
Paden – “Don’t Hold Back”
-This Nashville duo bring an energetic pop rock sensibility to folk music. It’s actually a style that defies description, but we keep coming back to it for the energy. The vocal harmonies are great, but it has this infectious joy to it that is really exciting. It’s basically about living your life to the fullest; don’t give in to cynicism. Keep at it.
We are the northern lights – “Hope Will Arise”
-This song has glimpses of really exciting folk energy to it. The overall song is enjoyable, but honestly I’m not sure this band has peaked just yet. When they’re locked in, these are some really great harmonies. I’ll be interested to see how the songwriting evolves as they seek a more lyrically driven folk sound in the future.
Alexander Wren – “Thought I’d Hit the Lotto”
-The sweetness of this track is pretty hard to ignore. There’s a softness to Wren’s obvious infatuation for the subject of the song. When the atmospheric orchestral elements enter the track, you can’t help but feel a bit of a Ben Folds vibe to the track. It’s endearing and, frankly, kind of inspiring. What it lacks in categorization it makes up for in sheer joy.
Velvet Starlings – “Sold Down the River”
-The Velvet Starlings sound is the genuine article. It feels like what old school music brought into the modern age. While it is ostensibly categorized as blues, the overall sound is as much rock as anything. The lead vocal absolutely scorches on this one and the harmony vocals give it a full, satisfying sound. We avoid direct political commentary around here, but when it comes to the message of this one we do agree.
Sleep State – “Dyin’ when I see ya”
-If you’ve never had the experience of dying inside when you see someone, you have lived a charmed life. This song has all sorts of pop rock charm to it. The lead vocal really pops in a Maroon 5 kind of way. That said, I honestly have no idea why this track isn’t all over the top 40. If given the airplay, I think this could be a massive success.
Laura Jean Anderson – “Call it what it is”
-We’ve covered Anderson’s powerhouse style before, but this one has another level to it. There’s something that will have people comparing her with Adele and Amy Winehouse, obviously, but there’s also a sultriness to this one that we haven’t heard in the past. She’s got a classic vocalist style with a modern sensibility. This is an amazing track, honestly.
Raymond Joseph – “Oh My God”
-Joseph’s style is avant garde, which we appreciate about him. The orchestral elements here are not lush; rather they serve to keep the listener a bit disjointed. The point of the song is not about falling for someone, it’s about being infatuated and being unsettled. If you’ve ever had that moment where you realize “she knows” then this track will startle you back to that memory.
Brandin Reed – “I can’t be boxed in”
-At this point we could probably call Brandin Reed a “friend of the program.” It feels like we cover his music about once a month. But he’s JUST SO GOOD. It’s this deeply spiritual and fulfilling style that still feels like you could listen to it with your friends. It’s not worship music in the purest sense, but it will definitely get you thinking about higher matters. It’s a lot of fun and easy to enjoy with you friends. Check it out (and share it!)
Declan J Donovan – “Pieces”
-A good pop song should have a pleasing voice, a good beat, and a relatable storyline that pulls in most people. This song, which is fundamentally about a break up, has all of those elements. The atmospheric guitars make it the kind of song perfect to listen to with headphones sitting in your dorm or waiting for the train. It’s this deeply human, culturally ambiguous, perfectly pallatable style. Also, it’ll break your heart.