A working-from-home playlist for spring 2020

Ali Dineen – “Hungry Ghost”
-This is one of my favorite songs of 2020 already. The instrumentation feels like something Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne would have written. Dineen’s timeless vocal cuts right to my spirit. The whole composition is really enjoyable. The lyrics have that Joni Mitchell combination of visceral images with abstract ideas; I dig it a lot.

James Franklin – “Why let our people cry”
-I don’t really know what to call this song in terms of genre, but it sure feels like soul music to me. The beat is a bit funkier than traditional soul, putting it more in an R&B vibe, but it works really well. Franklin’s high baritone range works perfect for a track like this. It’s a song that makes me think if it got some airplay in major markets, it could take off. There’s a bit of Bruno Mars thing going on here. Where WAS Mark Ronson when this track was recorded???

Cayley Thomas – “Two minds”
-I’m always a sucker for vintage sounds repackaged for the modern era… or ear? Anyways, the Carly Simon vibe with this one is so strong I almost wrote Carly Thomas. The vibes around this song feel like they’re from another era. I get distinct impressions of bell bottom pants and Pall Mall cigarettes. The horn work even reminds me of those great 70s made for TV dramas that used to be on reruns when I was a kid. I’m looking forward to following Cayley’s vocals on other tracks as well.

Cedar Lake – “Dreamsong”
-Equal parts soothing acoustic guitar work and gentle, believable vocal work. Cedar Lake produces a sound that we honestly don’t hear that much. While acoustic singer songwriters are pretty common, the fusion with this relaxing overall production style doesn’t come in that often. The dreamy lyrics are reflective, like reading a diary. But I’ll tell you what if you ever experienced a break up… this song will hit right in your core.

Ring them bells – “Favorite gun”
-Put the guitars on the “buzzy” setting, have the lead singer crank out some heartfelt rock expressions, and make the drummer play fast. LET’S GO! This track asks “was I a killer for you?” I hope it’s a metaphor about working hard enough to maintain a relationship. But the resonance on the guitars and the overall energetic vibe of the track puts Ring Them Bells in a category all their own. This is a hard distinction to achieve in such a crowded rock scene; they’re worth checking out, for sure.

The Haberdashers – “Peach”
-This rambling Americana tune from the Haberdashers puts a smile on my face. You know what they say about pickin’ and grinnin’? I believe this band genuinely has fun. The lines about wanting to travel and make love… whoooooo eeeeeeee! It’s just the kind of timeless theme that can put us all in a better mood. In a world that can be so utterly dystopian on a daily basis, it’s great to remember that completely enrapturing feeling of being deeply in love. Great memories!

Luke Wallace – “Jet Lag”
-“I love the land more than my country” is a repeated anthem on this track. It resonates like hymn in a church. The more you sing and feel it, the more you understand the meaning. This is one of those not-so-subtle folk songs that seeks to speak truth to the people. Luke Wallace has this approachable style that makes me look forward to his future writing as much as I enjoyed this one.

WILD – “Draw the line”
-I hesitate to use the word “poetic” to describe the lyrics from WILD, but honestly they’re really in that category. The vibe of the track is pop rock with a lean toward commercial, but the verses dip into this delightfully happy pop folk energy as well. The combination makes my heart swoon. The lyrics dance around this complexity of how good a relationship can be but also how maddeningly difficult it is to make it work. There’s wisdom in the key lyric about establishing boundaries. Here is where I draw the line. I’ve never heard an anthemic love song about setting boundaries, but I love that this exists!

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