New Music Friday – Episode 35 – Singer Songwriter Standoff! – Vote in the poll to decide who wins a full album review

Admit it – you love singer songwriters. You love the way they make you think about your past, your many blessings, and wrestle with your rawest emotions. No one reads poetry anymore, so we listen to poetry strummed in acoustic chords…

Actually, just kidding. Several of these singer songwriters use some pretty dynamic sounds. Gone are the days of the “guy/girl and guitar.” Here are some pretty incredible artists we found over the past few weeks that make for a groovy collection. Betcha will love more than one!

Arpeggi – “Songs Don’t Help”
-Arpeggi reminds me of a lonely walk in a cold place. I don’t really know why I feel that way about this song, but there’s something haunting and complex about it. There’s a hollowness to the vocal and the space of the composition. Technically speaking it’s a small ensemble that highlights the acoustic guitar and the vocal, but it has a vast lonesome feel that transcends a typical “strum and sing” kind of song. Take it seriously, please.

Noah Derksen – “Deep Blue”
-Noah Derksen’s music is the genuine article. With a subtle joy like Ray Lamontagne, you’ll find yourself pulled into the depth and beauty of the song. The metaphor of the sea is not lost with this song. I can imagine a song like this on a Lamontagne album, sure, but it also feels like a new sound unique to Derksen. It’s a well-worn, rough-hewn love of a lumberjack or whaler; there’s a workman’s sensibility in this.

Jacob Shipley – “Shutter”
-For fans of James Taylor. Do I need to write any more, really? I mean this guy is a wonderful songwriter. Although we’ve all heard of old JT, he also reminds me a litte of an artist we’ve featured before named JD Eicher. The chromatic, high-climbing vocal shows considerable versatility. But the lyrics are really poetic and believable, making the song more than what initially meets the ear. Somewhere at the intersection of folk and pop, Jacob Shipley croons with joy.

Madeleine Dopico – “Me to Bleed”
-Sometimes we reject music for being too “theatrical.” I’m sure that stings for some artists, but for Madeleine Dopico, her theatrical vocal is her selling point. I’d love to hear her perform Christine from the Phantom. She has THAT kind of voice. This song “Me to Bleed” is dark. If it had a color, it would be that vibrant dark red crimson that you sometimes see in a deep wound. The genre bounces around from positively cinematic to stripped down singer songwriter, but at the end of the day it’s a showcase for an incredible vocal and a ton of moving, aggressive emotion.

Andrew James – “Shoreline”
-Full disclosure: we’ve covered Andrew James before and we like him. Okay, now with that out of the way, James writes with an earnestness that reminds me of fellow Texan David Ramirez. The songwriting is great, the atmosphere works with gentleness and sentimentality. This is a really great song. Using its own travel and geography metaphor, one gets the sense of James’s seriousness. “I’m not giving up ’til I figure out just how to love.” Oh, man, if we could all live like that.

Aaron Davison – “Where We Are”
-This song has a gently flowing rhythm that reminds me a bit of floating down the river. I mean it’s more uptempo than just floating, but it has that style of rhythm to it. Davison’s vocal is appealing to the ear, but it’s his songwriting style that really jumps out to me. The phrasing is solid and the images are enduring. The duo harmony works really well, giving it a bit of a Hall and Oates flavor. It’s definitely a chill rock vibe that I could get used to for a full album, for sure.

John Butler – “Hurricanes”
-The main strum pattern of this song reminds me of one of my all time favorite songs, “St. Patrick’s Day” by John Mayer. So yeah, I was immediately intrigued by the sound. Then I heard Butler’s mellow voice and some clean guitar picking. I was hooked. Seriously this is exceptionally good music to me. Butler seems to do well what so many others attempt; he’s writing with poetic sincerity without overselling the song. The production is near perfect. The chromatic chord progressions and unique bridge keep the song from getting monotonous. Just when you think you “get it,” there’s a solo or a lyrical turn to keep you interested.

Alexander Wolfe – “I Can’t Get to Sleep”
-Whoa. Just whoa. Do you hear that? That’s what true artistry sounds like. There’s no “sounds like” for Alexander Wolfe. The music is utterly original, with moments of brilliance that are truly exceptional. The allegorical lyrics and dynamic harmonies work together to show that the new folk revival is far from dead. Picking up from influences like Bon Iver and Nick Drake, Wolfe’s music really travels into the wilderness of folk music to find something outstanding. This is one of the best songs we’ve heard all year and will probably make the end of year list.

Garrett Pierce – “Get Me Out of This Place”
-It sounds a bit like something from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack and I mean that as a high compliment. I know it’s just the tone on the guitar, but still, the structure of the song feels like the wild west. The vocal and overall structure work really well, creating a feeling of the wide open spaces in the west. There’s the roughness of the cowboy songs underneath this petinaed finish song. When the smooth harmonies come in later in the song, there’s a desperation that takes the song in a new direction. I hear similarities to both Dylan Leblanc and Taylor Goldsmith here; that’s some decent company.

Beau Davison Turrentine – “On Top”
-BDT just flows off the tongue, doesn’t it? This guy is as smooth as a good Scotch. There’s a great coolness to his approach, equal parts blues and pop. He sounds like someone who’s been playing for more years than he’s probably been alive. I’d love to hear him play this track live because it’s just so polished, but still feels like it’s an off the cuff, no big deal tune. He sings these love lyrics and flippant anecdotes with a colorful nonchalance. I can see him being an indie sensation.

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