Maxwell James – “When It’s Real”
-This track is ostensibly about knowing when love is real, but the same can be said for knowing when a song is “real” too. This one is, for sure. There’s a lightness to the easy flow of the instrumentation as well as the vocal. The listener can feel the genuine emotion of the lead vocal as it expresses the struggle and pure elation of a successful relationship. There’s hope when it’s real.
Xavier Rudd – “Times Like These”
-Rudd gets a bit outside of our “emerging artist” theme as he has definitely made a name for himself already. That said, this song came in as a submission that won our hearts right away. The expressive lyrics work perfectly with the plaintive acoustic work here. It’s the kind of recording quality that highlights the vocal and allows it to cut through the air beautifully. Even the harmonica puts us in a Dylan-style timeless “good music” space.
Plasi – “Vienna”
-This Swedish singer songwriter Plasi brings a cool confidence to this unique song. Sure it’s “just” an acoustic singer songwriter song, but there’s a sweetness to the melody that keeps me smiling throughout the recording. The whistling as well as that half step chord change both bring a real delightful openness to the recording. I am eager to keep an eye out for this act in the future.
Luca Fogale – “What I Came Here For”
-Fogale’s vocal pierces through this track like a hot knife. The fingerpicking on the guitar is outstanding as well. When you combine these elements, you feel something that is really outstanding. This is what it means for an artist to “stand out in a crowded genre.” Fogale’s execution is perfect, with bouncing lyrics about infatuation and dreaming about being with someone forever. This song absolutely begs to be used in television or film; it is infectiously optimistic and perfect for a springtime playlist.
Andreas DeValera – “Next To Me”
-DeValera delivers his lines in an almost whispered manner, but it seems to work here. There’s an intimacy to the song both in the lyrics as well as the subtle duet here. The strings pop in and out of the arrangement, allowing the almost “pillow talk” commentary to seep through. It’s about the sweetest thing I’ve heard all year. If you’re putting together a playlist of love songs, you should include this hidden gem.