Jesse Daniel – “Looks Like Rain”
-Daniel’s style is pure as the driven… rain? No but seriously this is a pure record that comes across as the real deal. The chord structure and slide guitar give it plenty of rootsy texture. Daniel’s voice moves the song along nicely, carefully articulating well-placed lyrics about sadness. It’s a song that teeters on the line between country stereotype and genuine article in just the right amount.
Copperline – “How Cold Is the Water”
-Copperline have a unique vibe to them, calling it “folk rock” but really fitting into a number of different styles. What I find most captivating about them is the vocal harmony between the male and female vocal. The moving rhythm here builds an incredible tension in the early part of the song, delivering a satisfying resolution around the 2:30 mark. There’s a little bit of a Shovels and Rope vibe here, so if you’re into that subgenre of folk give this duo a spin.
Welshly Arms – “Down to the River”
-Most people might not think of rock as a roots genre, but in this song from Welshly Arms you have the perfect fruition of roots music. Based in the root of gospel, adding in a blues derivative, and finishing it off with some classic American polish. This is a fine work of art. The lyrics are absolutely rooted in a gospel reality and the vocal has a fantastic fire to it. If you’re not already hip to Welshly Arms, this is an excellent introduction to their exceptional brand of Americana rock n’ roll.
Riley Catherall – “Watered Down Man”
-This song has one of the best lines I’ve heard in all of 2018. I won’t give it away, but let’s just say it’s about coping with disppointment with alcohol. Catherall’s phrasing and overall writing reminds me of an American icon in Jason Isbell. It’s not every day I can make that kind of comparison. I am already looking forward to hearing more from Catherall. His poetic Americana lyricism is a rare treat in the music scene today.
Eric Thorfinnson – “Bonolio”
-Folk is of course a roots genre, but so often people take folk in different directions. Thorfinnson’s brand of folk feels raw and real; it’s the Fleet Foxes subgenre of folk. What makes this track particularly interesting is that it even has some jazzy discordant elements to it as well. Maybe the best word for it is esoteric, yet at the same time it has some dirty, down-to-earth grit to it that works. It’s not a bee-boppin’ party anthem, but it’s a track that will make you want to dig into your writing journal and cry out with words.