Whitney Mongé – “Born Without Wings”
-This wonderful track has a core of truth to it that slowly unfolds throughout the song. It’s a narrative form folk song with spirit. The chords help the lyrics cut through the air about identity in family and hard work. It’s a raw and real moment of music.
Pictures – “Don’t Take Your Love Away”
-This is a glorious throwback style song. I hear influences as old as George Harrison and as recent as Oasis. There’s something gleefully simple about it, yet I find myself humming right along with it. The depth of the composition is soothing and rewarding. It’s one I’m inclined to put on repeat and think about someone I love.
Five Islands – “Smoke”
-There’s something about the crack in the female lead vocal here that reminds me of my formative years. I don’t know if she sounds like someone I knew or what, but I tell you what when the harmonies start my hairs on the back of my neck go STRAIGHT UP. If my year in 2018 had a soundtrack, this song would make it. It’s folk duo beauty and I’m pulled into the heart of it on every listen.
KidEyes – “Take Me Back in Time”
-I’m not gonna lie this song feels like it’s a connection of many decades of music. I can’t tell if it tickles my 80s kid fancy or my 90s pop emergence, but it’s definitely a nostalgic vibe that does it for me. The harmonies and “arena rock” style work really well on this track. The fact that the lyrics push you to think nostalgically causes a synergy that is sure to make you regret some of your bad hair decisions… and look up your exes on social media. (Don’t front, you know you do it too.)
Graace – “SOS” (Live)
-We don’t always feature live performances, but when we do there’s genuinely something special about them. Graace has this ability to leave space in her phrasing so that you know she is expressing truth. This isn’t a performance of a fun little song – this is the expression of a poem, a pouring out of her heart, and frankly a call for help. It’s stunning.
Danny Fishman – “Train Song”
-Let me use my editorial voice here. I love this song. There’s a sweetness to it that I don’t hear every day. Fishman has a sincerity in his vocal that I adore. Then he goes on to add these wonderfully quaint lyrics that put me in mind of a songwriter like Ben Rector. I could listen to 1000 songwriters and not find one this good. Fishman is a treat and I’ll be following his career closely.
Navya Sharma – “New Routine” (Live)
-The up tempo style here is really interesting. But I’ll tell you what works super well with Sharma’s style; you have never heard anything quite like this. The vocal style is unique in a good way. The whole composition feels like a good time and the production is stellar on this version.
Jacko Hooper – “Trust In Me Always”
-Do you hear that tone in the lead vocal? Whew! It’s enough to get anyone’s attention. Then you listen to the reassuring beauty of the lyrics and you can’t help but be drawn in on this one. When the crisp electric guitars provide sonic highlights along the way, it feels like you’re looking at a masterful painting. The intricate details all come together for something exquisite.
Kyan – “Lonely River”
-Get your dancing shoes on for this one. There’s a ton of soul dripping from this arrangement of “Lonely River.” The groove is one that will definitely get you moving. When the different vocal harmonies enter the track, you’ll do that thing your crazy uncle does when he hears something he likes… half close your eyes and go “mmhmm.” It’s okay you’re allowed to do that too. Get ya GROOVE on, friend.
Frances Luke Accord – “Silver and Gold”
-Regular readers of our site are not surprised to see Frances Luke Accord on this list. We seem to write about them every time we get a new track. But listen. We’re not crazy; they’re just that good. This particular track has some fascinating unconventional harmonies and melodic turns. It reminds me of reading a poem with a new meter. You have to read it a few times to get it, but once you do it’s your new favorite. “What can’t I see?” Great question.
Jackson Harden – “Down by the River”
-One of the great traditions of folk music is to write about nature. I love how this song delicately talks about one of my personal favorite pasttimes of sitting by a river to think about things. I like how the song’s lulling acoustic style combines two of my favorite things – beautiful acoustic music and sitting by the river. Harden’s vocal is soft enough so as not to overrun, yet firm enough to convey the poetic and inspiring lyrics. This is an absolute gem.