SkyBells – “Hike up the valley”
-When you tell your friends you listen to “folk music” this is what they think of. It’s quaint, plodding acoustic music. The harmonies are infectiously enjoyable. It feels like something you could hear in the mountains of the American southeast nearly 100 years ago. I bet Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family would like this one. That’s the highest praise I can think for this style of music. I adore it.
Hannah Ashcroft – “Landfire”
-If a solid lead female vocal is what you seek, look no further than Hannah Ashcroft. The saucy, timeless rock band that backs Ashcroft on this track will satisfy the soul of old heads and young guns alike. But don’t forget that it’s Ashcroft’s penetrating vocal quality that makes the song. The bluesy lyrics and raw folk rock instrumentation make this a memorable track from start to finish.
Fort Frances – “Desert Hotel”
-We’ve been covering Fort Frances for a few years now. You can hopefully hear why right away. The easy going folk rock vibe of the band is something that puts a smile on our face. I even dig the harmonica, man. There’s just something that feels right about this song. I can’t believe that it’s a “new” song. It feels like it could have been recorded in about 1972. I wonder if they had fu manchus when they recorded this…
Westerlight – “The Sea”
-The duo Westerlight bring a wonderfully captivating male-female vocal style to the folk scene. The easy comparison is the Civil War style, which seems evident even from the acoustic work as well. Westerlight are certainly an enjoyable act. In some ways, they remind me of what I like about Planes on Paper. It’s a delightful and poetic folk tune.
Davis John Patton – “We can find a place”
-The balance of acoustic guitar and vocal on this track stops me in my tracks. It’s rare to find a male vocalist with this kind of quality who isn’t already signed with some massive label. Patton has that magical “it” factor in both voice and delivery. This song is ready to be picked up for about a thousand different TV shows and commercial spots. I think it’s a delicate snapshot of the pop folk musical moment.
Joshua Hyslop – “Something more”
-Some years ago I got a chance to meet Hyslop. I was impressed with his creativity and music writing back then. He still has a penchant for folk music that moves. Rather than the same old tunes, Hyslop seems to infuse a modern pop sensibility that makes his intellectual lyricism and overall flavor stand out in the genre.
Jess Jones – “Souvenir”
-This is a wonderful folk song. The acoustic energy takes prominence while the vocal dances delicately along the top. The lyrical tool of “taking something away from this place” is well conceived. In life, as we travel, we take bits and pieces of our experiences to make us who we are. I really like the spiritual aesthetic of the composition. It’s quite genuinely reflective.
Josh Downey – “By your side”
-Josh Downey has put himself on my short list of “ones to watch” with this song. The style is reflective of something really powerful. The minimalist approach is excellent. The songwriting has that timeless quality to it that keeps me coming back for more. I am going to listen to this one over and over, but I’m also going to be following Downey’s career as it unfolds. Anyone who can make something this beautiful deserves attention.
Davey Allen – “Live another day”
-Man, I love Davey Allen. He might win the crown for being the single most underrated artist that I have the privilege of covering. Seriously every time I listen I think he’s amazing. He’s got this Cat Stevens singer songwriter vibe going for him. His songwriting is stunning. Listen to this song, goshdarnit. It’s existential, full of good will and blessing, and the vocal delivery is just raspy enough to hit that sweet spot. It’s like an old blues man singing you out at the end of the show with that one little happy well wish. It’s great.
Breachway – “Matrimony”
-There’s something sweet about this composition. It reminds me a little of Rusty Clanton, one of my favs. But Breachway has a unique, contemplative folk style that deserves some attention as well. The performance isn’t picture perfect, but I think that’s part of the charm. It feels raw, unpolished, and one hundred percent the real deal. It’s worth a spin for fans of modern folk music and thoughtful lyric work.