A folk playlist for a sunny summer day

Joe Kaplow – “I said I was going and I went”
-There’s something deeply endearing about Kaplow’s style. It’s like the song is in no hurry to move along, but you’re perfectly happy to enjoy the lull of the strings and vocal. It reminds me of being in the middle of a really good novel. You want the sense of accomplishment of finishing it, but you’re perfectly happy to just exist in that space. Feels good, ya’ll.

Rain and Left – “I wonder”
-We’re usually big on recent tracks, so with a year since this one’s release we had to make an exception. You’ll hear why right away. It’s sweet and quite good. The male-female duo folk style bleeds right through and makes for a delightful romantic song. It’s sure to make a lot of fans for the duo.

Taylor Mathews – “Run Like Hell”
-Okay truthfully this is a little more pop than it is folk, but I want to include it on this list. Editor’s privilege! I think the songwriting and overall quality deserve a wider audience. You might not think of yourself as the typical “pop” fan, but the heart and spirit of this song are evident. Mathews can really sing, too!

The Little Miss – “She’s What We Need”
-I hate when people take songs with political meaning and call them “anthems” when they really aren’t. This isn’t a feminist anthem, per se. But it’s definitely a powerful message about women’s equality. I love the stripped down style and overall purity of performance. Yet at the same time, the lyrics will cut through the air on issues like economic and social equality. It’s really powerful and deserves to be heard widely.

Vocal Few – “To the Ocean”
-I was beginning to think this sort of jangly folk music was dying, but then I found Vocal Few who show that it’s alive and well. They remind me of The Oh Hellos, who we have covered extensively here. It’s a really infectious kind of pop folk music. The vocals here are absolutely on point, too. The whole composition will have you wanting to take your own trip to the beach. Yee haw!

Dustin Tebbutt – “All Your Love”
-This acoustic folk track is captivating to me. There’s something about the articulation of the strings that matches the vocal perfectly. It might evoke comparisons with someone like Jeff Buckley, but no matter what you call it Tebbutt is on point. The song has the intricate balance of melody, lyric, and performance that is quite rare in music today.

Calan Mai – “XO”
-This song has a sweet reality to it. By that I mean it feels fresh and honest. It doesn’t seem old fashioned or overly progressive. It feels embedded in our moment. I could totally hear this playing in a coffeeshop. Maybe it should be?

Michael Flynn – “Get Old”
-Flynn’s style is subtle and rewarding. He reminds me of everything I love about Matt Thiessen’s piano work. It’s melodic and has some gently flowing lines. The lyrical theme of maturity is really wonderful here. I could see this one as a graduation party theme song. It’s lovely.

Matt Spicer – “On Clouds”
-It seems every week I’m finding another Matt Spicer track to cover. Maybe he has earned a full review. What do you think? Anyways, the haunting vocal on this one is worth spinning more of his work. The phrasing and songwriting on this track is absolutely stunning. He reminds me of a few other artists, but has blended his own artistry so well that I see him as a truly unique artist.

Joe Bray – “Miles” (Acoustic)
-Bray is the kind of artist that keeps us blogging, honestly. The methodical softness in his guitar work lays the groundwork for a rewarding vocal. It’s like he’s expressing deep, personal emotions. The comparison with someone like Noah Gundersen is there, sure, but Bray deserves to stand on his own as well. I was thrilled to hear he’s nearby in Pittsburgh and I hope to catch him live some time.

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