Jacksonport – “California Gold”
-If you’ve been reading my articles on folk this year, you know the name Jacksonport. If we gave an artist of the year award, I would nominate Jacksonport. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard. “California Gold” is a delicate and rewarding folk song with elements of classic folk blended with some intriguing production elements. In particular the horn (muted trumpet or french horn?) creates a calming sense to an already lovely tune. The visual imagery created with the lyrics works delightfully with the chamber folk elements. To me, though, the highlight has to be the expressive harmony on the chorus. The balance of all of these aspects makes for an exceptional piece of new folk music.
Charles Benjamin – “Highway 1”
-Acoustic guitar and a harmonica… color me interested… and then a fantastic lead vocal. Okay, I’m hooked. This song is delightful. This is quintessential folk music with a wonderfully balanced sound and expressive lyrics. Once the full band kicks in, it transitions to more of a conventional country music style. That said, it’s still a calming tune. The finger-picked melody highlighted with the harmonica is outstanding. I could listen to song with that rolling melody style all day long. Benjamin is a gift; I’m really glad to have found this new track from this emerging artist.
Grace Thiesen – “Brightest at Night”
-When I first clicked on this song, I thought the intro was pretty good… and then the vocal entered the track and my jaw dropped. Oh. My. Word. Grace Thiesen is absolutely INCREDIBLE. It’s difficult to make a haunting sound work well, but Thiesen captures it well here. The juxtaposition between the beauty of the vocals with the darkness in the lyricism is outstanding. There’s tension and resolve in every verse-chorus combination. The song ends up being an adventure with just one listen. And here’s the thing… as soon as you listen once you’ll want to hear it again. I love this song and am excited to follow the career of this promising and talented artist Grace Thiesen.