Simon Alexander – “Home”
-I’ve been known to crack a joke or two about the prevalence of the title “Home” for songs, but Alexander really brings something unique for this one. It’s not your typical handy clappy celebration of the ones we left back on the farm. It’s a longing, bluesy sensibility expressed while out fighting the demons of life on the road. It feels raw and genuine; it’s perfect for those journeymen (and women) out there pounding the pavement in the name of adventure or earning a living.
Joe Nolan – “Tupelo Honey”
-If you’re looking for traditional folk music, put Joe Nolan’s name on your list. Everything from the fingerpicking to the dusty vocal style feels absolutely genuine. I feel like I stepped back into the 60s in Greenwich Village when I click play on this track. Nolan’s articulation, phrasing, and improvisational melody style all stand out in a folk scene that seems to be a bit too repetitive at times. This is truly something unique and I’m happy to support it.
Josh Kumra – “Don’t know why”
-I really don’t know what to call this song. Is it soul? A little. Is it pop? Maybe from some era. Is it folk? I guess so. Is it delightful? ABSOLUTELY. I love this song. The relaxed style, the quality vocal, and the relatable lyrics all come together for a treat. It’s the kind of music that brings fulfillment to my soul. It’s a really remarkable tune and a wonderful performance.
Briscoe – “Sailing Away”
-If you’re a fan of folky harmony bands, give Briscoe a quick spin and follow. These guys are making some really fun, engaging music. I really appreciate the overall vibe that feels like it could have fit right in during the 60s Haight Ashbury scene. In fact, I can’t even pinpoint a geographic or chronological marker for this song. It captures the wanderlust of youth. The clean lead vocal and nice detailed guitar licks in the background make for a sound you’re happy to share with everyone. I dig this a lot.
Pinewood – “Riverbank”
-The blend of good sound engineering and brilliant songwriting have created one of the best folk tunes I’ve heard in 2020. Pinewood have a sound that I rarely hear; it’s atmospheric and transcendent while feeling rooted. I always think of banjos as being “of the earth,” but the reverb (I think?) that makes me feel like I’m hearing this in a big ampitheater makes for a perfect combination. The earthy, literary lyricism reminds me of college lit classes. It’s a blend of influences that makes for a beautiful alchemy.
Sea Wolf – “Break it down”
-There’s a controlled aggression to this sound from Sea Wolf. It swells with energy and a genre-defying melody. There are elements of both indie folk and indie rock here, but the sound is smooth enough to be engaging for a wide range of audiences. The vocal inflections put me in mind of massively successful artists like Coldplay. It’s a fun sound that seems to take itself just seriously enough to make listeners lean in and pay attention.
Michelle Mandico – “Ptarmigan”
-The relaxed acoustic style here eases the listener into a wonderful song, but the breathtaking vocal style… WOW. Just hush and listen. I work really hard to find descriptions of vocals other than “angellic,” but… with Mandico that’s certainly worth consideration. It’s a timeless vocal quality that I look forward to hearing much more in the future. I really appreciate the minimal production decisions to allow Mandico’s gorgeous vocal to shine through.
Alt Bloom – “Damn baby”
-What a soulful vocal style! Alt Bloom has a groove that puts a smile on my face every time. I definitely get a good vibe from this track. It looks back on a former relationship with that “grass is greener” optimism to it. I dig the minimal production that allows the vocal to stand out. The clever lines and approachable style are sure to make a lot of fans for Alt Bloom.