Nicholas Edward Williams – “Happy Life”
-Williams has an easy going folk style that keeps a smile on your face. There’s a definite theological point to this track, but it doesn’t come across as preachy. It’s optimistic and even joyful. The bouncy nature of the acoustic guitar work balances perfectly with Williams’ familiar sing-songy vocal. He legit sounds like a stereotypical troubadour and it works perfectly for this track.
A Choir of Ghosts – “Southwest of the Moon”
-I fell in love with this song on first listen. I shared it with one of my oldest, dearest friends right away. I love the way the lead vocal has just enough rasp to make it stick, while the acoustic energy carries through the track beautifully. The melody line on this song is really rewarding. I think if it could get some mainstream airplay, this would be a massively popular song. Fans of David Gray and the late 90s pop ballad will adore this track.
Evan Thomas Way and the Phasers – “Long Distance”
-If you like rock-laden Americana music in the vein of Glorietta or David Ramirez, you’ll get a kick out of Evan Thomas Way and the Phasers. The energy of this track is evident right from the start. There’s even a bit of Dawes in the inflection here. I think the chilled out rock vibe combined with the tone on the lead guitar makes for a perfect mix. The lyrics remind me of a folk painting; it’s not perfectly polished but you can totally appreciate the image. It’s about friendship and sincerity, all while acknowledging that we have broken pasts. It’s real and worthwhile.
Hunter Callahan – “Best Thing (Wedding Song)”
-The acoustic guitar work on this track puts a smile on my face. But since I am a happily married man for 12 years (with an anniversary next month), the lyrics get me pretty good, too. It’s the mark of a good love song if it makes you think about the good times you’ve had with your own partner. This track definitely did that for me. Callahan’s honest delivery and minimalist composition make it an excellent track for a slow dance in the living room or as special music on your special day. It’s great.
The Blue Winter – “Mountain”|
-There’s such a joyful sentiment to this song. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a genre that so often can be about the world’s trials and struggles. There’s a beautiful sentimentality to the lyrics in this track. Of course the “mountain” is a metaphor for “love.” It’s all about perspective. “Learn to flyyyy…” is the inspiring, cherished lyric for this track. The acoustic guitar work is bright and highlights the lyrics well.
Laura Jean Anderson – “On my mind”
-LJA is killin it for me with this album. It’s throwback, sure, but it’s also got this timeless power to it. The structure of this song feels bluesy, but really it’s about being in love. We might more accurately call this Americana, but I like it as part of this playlist. Anderson’s vocal is, as standard, on point with this track. There’s a ton of expressive emotion in this performance from the lead through the backup singers. The guitar is a delightful accompaniment to this engaging song that could have been written in any decade from the 1930s to the present.
Genevieve Racette – “In Your Arms”
-This thoughtful folk track has captured some kind of deep spiritual energy. I can’t tell if it’s in Racette’s airy and inspiring vocal or the optimism in the chord structure, but I just feel better listening to this song. Of course it’s a love song, but it feels like it has something special to it. It makes me want to slow dance with my wife. I adore the timeless truth of resting with someone we love. It’s a great folk pop love song.
Back Pockets – “I’ll be here at home”
-This is a cute song. I try to be more professional and use sophisticated musical descriptors, but seriously this is adorable. The male-female duo Back Pockets work perfectly together. It’s rare to find vocal blending as satisfying as you’ll hear on this song. The sweet reminder of faithfulness to your partner is really sweet. If you don’t smile listening to this song, you might want to get your smiler checked out.
Ryan David Orr – “Nothing More Than Love”
-This song might not totally fit in the “spring in your step” theme as well as a few others, but I really do think there’s an inherent optimism to the song. The dark chords all come around for a beautifully vibrant overall composition. There’s a hope in the lyrics about resilience. When we encounter suffering in this world of course it hurts, but the promise of this track is about finding hope in something greater. This song is hope in the vibration of strings.