Posts Tagged ‘Folk. Singer-Songwriter’

Three years ago, Trevor Sensor released the wonderfully off-kilter album, Andy Warhol’s Dream. Like Warhol conveying messages about society’s insatiable consumerism through his art, Sensor crafted widescreen tales about the everyday person’s desires to have more. The stories were clever, entertaining, and timely, and even today the entire LP remains relevant as everyone continues to seek to have everything.

Given Sensor’s proclivity with the spoken word, however, a more apt comparison may be Hunter S. Thompson. The former journalist and late novelist immersed himself in American’s “counterculture”, delving deep into every corner of the USA to expose its ugliness and myriad of contradictions. The Illinois-born singer-songwriter similarly has dove headfirst into the polarization that threatens to rip America at the seams. His purpose, like Thompson, is to chronicle the truths that people wish to ignore, which he does brilliantly and with typical Sensor fervour on his latest single, “These Dark Days”.

The song is an entertainingly raucous and biting folk-rocker that sounds surreal yet is extremely present. It is filled with contradictions, including how the song is jubilant in its approach yet appalling in its observations. Immediately, Sensor sings:

“Everything is dead, the past left behind
Saw three pretty women weeping in line
Holy Bible in the drawer, sleeping on the floor
Waiting for the news of the comin’ war”

Throughout the song, Sensor discusses the many ways the world is imploding: leaders resigning, parents sacrificing their children, communities decaying, and religion striking fear into the people it is suppose to save. But the even more bizarre aspect is that we accept these occurrences as part of our daily lives. That these contradictions define who we are. Sensor goes further when he shares: The thing I notice is we all carry on with our pursuits no matter how good or bad the odds of them succeeding are. The fact that we do anything in spite of our certain end is the essence of our nature. That’s what makes the human story so heroic and comical. We put on the face of infinity while death hides in the back of our heads.

Hear this excellent and clever single below. For those in the US, with an election just around the corner, maybe, in Sensor’s own words, “it seems that we’re heading towards darker days.” Well, let’s hope not.

Trevor Sensor returns with the first single from his forthcoming LP “On Account of Exile Vol.1”

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It’s getting soon to the release date! It’s been weird to have an album coming out during this time, but in a way it’s been really nice to have something to work on and keep me level headed.. it’ll be our June 5th.
“I was named after you. Oh, where’s the strength that I’m meant to get from you,” sings Brigid Mae Power on I Was Named After You. In a lesson of empathy and the power to change, the Galway singer-songwriter teaches us in three short verses that great emotional obstacles can be overturned: “And now I’ve no doubt why I was named after you, cos it’s the vulnerability that did mend the situation in the end.”
“Head Above the Water” is the semi-autobiographical third album from the folk-country singer. It was recorded in Glasgow and produced alongside Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts and Power’s husband, Peter Broderick, formerly of the Danish indie group Efterklang, Power takes the intimate details of her life – the small moments that change everything – and gives them a certain grandeur. Her lover asks her: “City lights or country skies at night, which do you prefer?” on the opening track On a City Night. A question so simple in its answer, the pair decide where to live together as a team – “The city suits you on a city night” – their union cemented.

With a shrewd eye, she can home in on the decisions – often hard to make – that lead to a healthier life. I Had to Keep My Circle Small is a tale of stoic self-preservation, and her reworking of the traditional song The Blacksmith shows the catastrophic repercussions of lying. Not Yours to Own comes laden with advice to fight for your space in the world and to make sure that your voice is heard, whether it’s a whisper or a shout.
Lyrically she shows incredible caution in not just examining her own feelings but the feelings of others, too. The songs We Weren’t Sure and You Have a Quiet Power demonstrate the virtues of remaining patient when it comes to matters of the heart. Her windswept voice always leads the way in songs that are never pushed beyond a gentle strum of a guitar or a brush of a bodhrán, which means that the weight of her words lands without any confusion. “I wrote the lyrics for Wearing Red That Eve one day when I was sort of spacing out the window thinking about old memories and instances where I have been wearing the colour red.. It’s sort of a dream like song that drifts between truthful and imagined scenarios…”

As the title of the album – and the closing track – suggests, life rarely dishes out an easy hand to anyone but it’s how you face the struggles that matters. Even if she sometimes feels out of her depth, Power remains focused. No decision is rushed and conclusions are reached organically. Softly delivered, these are hard lessons that we should all learn in time. 

‘Wearing Red That Eve’ is Brigid Mae Power’s new single, from her upcoming album ‘Head Above The Water’ (Out 05/06/20)

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A few months ago Adam from “songsfortheday”, discovered a voice we immediately knew we would never forget. It’s rare to hit play on a track and instantly everything else around you fades away. Such is the case with the completely hypnotic and memorizing presence that Talitha Ferri presents.

Now more than ever, the world is looking for ways to escape, even just momentarily into a different headspace or mood. With each new track that is released, Ferri easily enthralls the listener in an immersive experience of unmatched beauty brushed with love, loss and pain. Even more remarkable than her powerful yet delicate vocals are the transparent and revealing nature of her lyrics, which revolve around her own struggles with mental health issues. Ferri’s third single, “Porcelain”.

The Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter uses subtlety to evoke powerful emotions. With just her acoustic harmonies, a simple guitar, and a captivating violin, “Porcelain” personifies brittle beauty. The song follows Ferri spiraling in and out of depression, and she explains the strange reality of the guilt associated with feeling bad, yet everything around her is so good.

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I’m conscious that right now we need something that brightens things a little, that can be reflective but see some optimism in the world situation. Talitha Ferri seems to hit that balance pretty well with her new song ‘The Sadness Lasts Forever’, the 2nd song released in the lead up to her album which is due out in May. Talitha previously, a Danish / American songwriter based in Copenhagen, who released her track ‘Home’ through the ‘Soulpod Collective’ last month. ‘Home’ was an impressive opener, but ‘The Sadness Lasts Forever’ soars to another level, courtesy of those vocals, which have such assured purity and confidence, that I promise you will believe everything she says.  ”You’ll be alright, despite the pouring rain” she tells us at the start, and that’s kind of good to know.

Instrumentally the song uses stripped back support, with just acoustic guitar and a violin, which both creep in and then build with the song, with the violin matching the vocals for their contrasting mix of melancholy and upbeat musical phrasing. The lengthy instrumental section is nice enough, and although it loses my attention slightly just before it returns to the main musical theme, overall I like the balance of Talitha Ferri’s songwriting and musical arrangements.

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Talitha Ferri is joined by Joseph Ricci on lead guitar, Janus Jakobsen on bass, and Jamie Metcalfe on violin. Her debut album, Get Well Soon, will be released May 1st, 2020.

Michael Nau - Some Twist

Michael Nau is just 6 months on from putting out his first album under his own name and is now preparing for it’s follow up with a sense of immediacy. A new collection of twelve songs entitled Some Twist represents some of his most sharp and moving work to date, and finds the Maryland-born singer songwriter looking to move quickly enough to avoid some of the stop/start nature that had previously left large gaps of time falling between his output.

While last year’s Mowing and its standout single ‘Love Survive’ can be viewed as commercial and critical successes for Nau, it was the act of putting the album out to begin with that was perhaps the biggest victory. After veering away from two different outfits he had fronted in the mid-to-late aughts, Nau had spent an a good deal of time overthinking his next move to a semi-paralyzing degree:

‘‘Mowing felt like a success for me because I had just spent so long with no idea if was ever going to put out a record again. I felt like I was going to write music for the rest of my life and maybe go play some shows, but in the back of my mind I wasn’t sure I still had the courage to put an album out into the world. I spent so much time passing through, working on things and then just throwing them away and moving on to the next thing. So really, it was a success because it came out at all. At the time I would tell people in my life that I was working on a record, but nothing would happen. So when it finally came out it felt like getting over a wall in a way, because I had somehow forgotten how to put things together and finish them.’

Upon the urging of others around him, Nau did eventually put Mowing together and saw fans and the critical community alike respond in 2016. “His masterful instinct for arrangement, along with his reedy voice, earns Nau a place in the rock’n’roll underdogs’ Hall of Fame”. Shortly thereafter, the uplifting single ‘Love Survive’ caught the attention of various BBC Radio DJs & programmers leading to an extended run of airplay that has spread to a brand new audience throughout Europe.

But Nau is resisting the urge to fall into the same habit of tinkering for too long again. Some Twist was recorded just after Mowing saw its release in Europe, wrapping it up in early January 2017. February saw Michael debut some of the new material live on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. March will see the album’s first single ‘Good Thing’ released, a driving flurry of introspection laid within a piano and fuzz arrangement.

Some Twist will see its release on June 16th of this year via Full Time Hobby. Overall, the album splits its time between feeling both energized and unhurried, while featuring the same penetrating songwriting that has led fans to latch onto Nau since he arrived.

Taken from the new album “Some Twist” out now

Phoebe Bridgers Stranger in the Alps Best Alt-Folk of 2017

She’s forever friends with Julien Baker and Ryan Adams has called her “the Next Bob Dylan” – but this dark folk singer-songwriter isn’t intent on shining in anyone else’s spotlight. Yet you’ll hear Baker and Elliott Smith and Sharon Van Etten and so much more when you listen to her music, as she falls in line with one of the most beautiful genres as much as she defines a niche for herself.

There will be a twang of Van Etten, the talk-sing of Dylan, angst of Adams, bawl-inducing emotion of Baker, and understated timelessness of Smith as Bridgers sonically bridges the divide between the best of the best in her debut full length. Not many other musicians can master that feat by their early 20s. And I’m pretty sure I’ll still be listening to her and this album in particular when I’m in my 60s.

Basia Bulat covering Bruce Springsteen “Glory Days”