Ricky Vazquez – “The Haunted”
-Vazquez has an open, honest perspective in his songwriting. The beat and style could almost be considered pop country, but it is a really easy to listen to style. The vocal is on point whether on the high or low part of his range. Despite the ominous title, it’s a relatively relaxing and optimistic song.
Craig Cardiff – “OK cupid”
-When I first saw the title of this track, I thought it would be a reference to the modern social dating app. Instead, it’s actually a song about hoping to find love. It’s quite cute, in fact. It’s got a classic folk style with a dominant acoustic guitar and lead vocal, allowing strings and rhythm to bring additional texture. It makes for a fun, smile-inducing track.
Jakob Westerlund – “Irreplacable”
-The first time I heart Westerlund I thought he was pretty good, but then I found out that he’s only 15 years old. I don’t remember what I was doing at 15, but it probably involved a SEGA Genesis and certainly not making fantastic music. The heartfelt lyrics here bely his youth. The song fits in with the pop music phenomenon of guys like George Ezra and Ed Sheeran. Strike while Westerlund is on the rise because he has the potential to be a household name.
Zach Kleisinger – “Darling, Just Breathe”
-Every once in a while you hear a song that just brings your blood pressure down. It reminds you that there’s more to life than deadlines and the next meeting. It helps give perspective to love and gentleness, to the significance of sweetness. Kleisinger’s phrasing reminds me of classic folk singers. It feels like the kind of song that Kleisinger would sing whether anyone was around to hear it or not, but he’d like it if you listened.
Madeline Jane – “Mother”
-It’s hard not to compare Madeline Jane to similar female folk singers, but honestly she stands on her own merits with this remarkable song. The lyricism is candid and gripping. Where some folk music just lulls in the background, Madeline Jane’s phrasing makes you want to listen like a beat poet in the middle of the stage. The melodies are complex and captivating on their own. The full production is quite intriguing. I can’t wait to hear more from her.