Brian Dale Allen Strouse – “Before it burns”
-The production on this track stood out to me right away. It sounds SO GOOD. Then the vocal enters and has this transcendent power to it. Something about the overall mix puts me in mind of what I loved about finding David Ramirez and Rayland Baxter back in the day. There’s an energy that blends what I love about folk and rock so perfectly well here. The lyrics feel deeply personal, encouraging people to stop performative acts and be true to themselves (and each other). It’s beautifully philosophical and moving.
Matt and Madeline Shugert – “October”
-Although we didn’t hear the song until December, I’m certain I can relate to the energy of the season captured in the song. The harmonies on the chorus remind me of some timeless Americana and even Old World music. The picking on this track, both banjo and guitar, are really rewarding. They remind me a bit of Pharis and Jason Romero. It’s a great listen for fans of bluegrass and old timey music.
Pawns or Kings – “Anymore”
-I really appreciate the quality of the lead vocal on this track. They are the kind of folk band that tell the truth and make you pay attention. The phrase “I don’t write anymore” punctuated by a whistle solo is probably what stood out the most to me on this one. As a writer by trade (sort of?), I can relate to this. When inspiration leaves it can be incredibly difficult to press on with the obligations we have. I love the existential energy of this track.