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Best Folk Music Blog & Promotion

Simon Ewing serenaded through the eras in his acoustic indie folk triumph LULLABY

Simon Ewing’s latest single, LULLABY, artfully blends a spectrum of musical epochs with a mastery of guitar play that fans of folk and beyond will find irresistibly compelling. The track is a confluence of lo-fi charm and intricate guitar work that nods to The Maccabees’ Toothpaste Kisses while embedding a distinctly Americana vibe interlaced with blues’ soulful essence.

LULLABY won’t sing you to sleep; instead, it vibrates with life, signifying the Bristol-based troubadour’s knack for weaving narratives that affirm the sensibility of the soul. The song’s architectural simplicity in structure belies a complex, layered emotional resonance that hooks the listener from the first chord.

Ewing’s ability to synthesise swathes of genres into a seamless, flowing piece shows not just versatility but a deep reverence for the roots of each genre. Each note reflects a rhythmic exploration that feels both classic and innovative, making LULLABY a testament to Ewing’s ability to transcend traditional storytelling through music.

If Elliott Smith’s songs had veered away from melancholy towards this vein of succinct sweetness, they might have touched the same bright corners of the soul that Ewing reaches with this track.

Stream LULLABY on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ellie Irwin explored the agony of unmet expectations in her timeless folk single, Pill That Won’t Go Down

Pill That Won’t Go Down” by Ellie Irwin is a heart-wrenching exposition of coming to terms with a breakup where it was impossible to meet expectations. The single explores the intersections between contemporary folk and the styles of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor while winding in elements of alt-country through the acoustic guitar strings.

This track doesn’t just strike a chord; it is enough to reshape your idea of contemporary relationships, where we’re as disposable as everything else in our throwaway economy, where novelty trumps loyalty, regardless of the memories you throw away, the scars you carve into souls, and the distrust you leave in the minds of people you allowed into your world only to show them the door out of it.

Ellie Irwin’s vocal performance efficaciously encapsulates the aura of melancholy without the emotions overbearing the delicately balanced performance that will stay with you long after the final lyrical reprise of ‘the pill that won’t go down’. For anyone who has been there before, Ellie offers not just solace but a cathartic release, her music acting as a mirror to the soul’s more sombre realities.

For fans of innovative, thought-provoking folk, Ellie Irwin offers a profound exploration of heartache and the human condition. Her music serves as a critical commentary on the disposable nature of modern relationships, delivered through a blend of singer-songwriter finesse that echoes the timeless classics, yet with a twist of rawness and originality.

Pill That Won’t Go Down was officially released on April 12th; stream the single on Spotify and Apple Music.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Nick Cody and the Heartache – Covering These Tracks Vol II: An Americana Tribute to the Art of Song Interpretation

Nick Cody and the Heartache’s latest album, “Covering These Tracks Vol II,” is a masterful reinterpretation of eight beloved singles through an Americana folk rock lens. This Leeds-based artist, along with his band has created a collection that resonates with warmth and soul.

The album features a diverse range of covers, including Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” Nick Cave’s “Nobody’s Baby Now,” and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Name Droppin’.” Each track is meticulously reworked, maintaining the original’s spirit while infusing it with a unique folk-rock essence. The result is a cohesive collection that showcases the band’s ability to blend different musical styles seamlessly.

What sets this album apart is the way Nick Cody and his band have deconstructed these classics, stripping them down to their core before rebuilding them with his band’s distinctive sound. The quivering violin strings, the acoustic guitar’s steady timbres, and the spells of vocal alchemy, especially Towse’s crystalline harmonies, create an enchanting experience.

“Covering These Tracks Vol II” is more than a cover album, it is a tribute to the art of song interpretation. This album is a testament to their musical prowess and a gift to fans of Americana folk. It’s a journey through familiar melodies, reborn and revitalised, proving that great music can always find new life in the hands of talented artists.

Stream Covering These Tracks Vol II on SoundCloud from April 19th.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Seßler/Zeeb packed a lyrical plea for compassion in a pop-rock ballad with ‘If No One’

The superlatively soulful German pop duo, Seßler/Zeeb, sprinkled swathes of (Ziggy) stardust into the production of their 70s folk singer-songwriter-tinged rock-pop ballad, If No One, which implores the listener not to discard humanity and compassion in an era which is becoming increasingly hard to bear.

Over the gentle major piano keys, the lyrics find a way of directly engaging you, pulling you into the plea to bolster the strength of humanity by one act of kindness at a time. The reprise of “if no one really cares” affirms that feeling as though you’re all alone in your plights is one of the most devastating shots to the heart of the human condition. The duo’s handling of this tender subject matter stands as a testament to their ability to evoke emotion with their provokingly pure approach to classic pop songwriting.

Between the lyrical messaging, which will leave you questioning what you can do for someone else today, and the upbeat tones which carry the timbres of the gospel choir in the chorus until it’s time for the guitar solo to inject the release with euphonic zeal, If No One will stay with you, long after the final note has faded.

If No One was officially released on April 5th; stream the single on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Darius Marquis weaved RnB, Retro-Pop & Gospel into a Folklore Serenade with ‘Fairytales’

Like every good folk tale, Darius Marquis’ standout single, Fairytales, alters the mind through expansions of the imagination. The slick with soul and swathed with experimentation release exists between the borders of genres, exploring untrodden intersections of RnB, retro pop and gospel, allowing Fairytales to unravel as an exploratively sincere extension of candour.

Fairytales nuancedly exposits how stories shape our perceptions of the world while we’re too innocent to experience the unfair brutality of it only for those illusions to be shattered, one shot to the heart at a time. The Houston-based artist and producer charted these emotional themes with folk-esque eloquent ease, allowing the poetic fragments of introspection to flow throughout the hazy instrumental currents with melodious ease. With gospel infused into the grooves, the melodies endlessly ascend beneath Darius Marquis’ honeyed harmonies which bring luminescence to the most bitter-sweet facets of life.

If there was as much justice in the world as fairytales would have us believe, Marquis would be a #1 phenomenon.

Stream Fairytales on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Brian Berggoetz gave hopeless romantics hope in his pop-rock serenade, More Than You’ll Ever Know

Sweet enough to give hopeless romantics hope, the standout single, More Than You’ll Ever Know, from singer-songwriter Brian Berggoetz is a melodious ode to a true love that can be alluded to in words but never fully captured.

Springsteen may have been born to run, but Berggoetz was born to bring warmth and depth to the pop-rock scene; More Than You’ll Ever Know is the ultimate attestation to his legacy. With vocals that caress as tenderly as the simple yet profoundly affecting instrumental arrangement, the single unravels as the dreamiest earworm you’ll hear this year.

With the stunning serenade, Brian Berggoetz emanated the aura that resounds through the soul in inexplicable throws of unflinching affection and passion. Lock into the blissful-bordering-on-arcane melodies, and tune into the affirmation that Berggoetz is a superlatively eloquent conduit of soul.

Between the folk strings, the twang of alt-country, the rugged roots of rock and the hallmarks of singer-songwriter pop lies a synergy which has become synonymous with the Tuscon, Arizona-hailing artist who finds influence in a diverse confluence of styles and genres.

More Than You’ll Ever Know is available to stream on Spotify with the latest LP from Brian Berggoetz, Magical Times.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Mystic Rhythms and Folklore Fusions: Musa Stone’s ‘Woman Please Is a Journey Through Sonic Serenity

Musa Stone added an ethereally mystic edge to the airwaves with the unveiling of his folklore-instilled standout single, Woman Please, taken from his debut LP, Fugue.

By painting from a scintillating colour palette and synthesising swathes of sonic cultures, the level of intrigue which oscillates through the artfully arcane production is off the scale. The celestial timbre of the sermonic layered harmonies feeds effortlessly into the otherworldly atmosphere of Woman Please, which is constructed through Latin rhythms and electronic aesthetics that register as organic as any classic folk instrumentation.

As a truly global artist, Musa Stone allows his sonic signature to span the landscapes that have shaped his material reality. While many artists solely use music as a means of expression or to feed their ego, music gave Musa Stone a home that no other phenomena or place could offer, while acting as a gateway to an emotional world. Hit play on Woman Please, which delivers deliciously imploring soul with a touch of desert folk, and you’ll instantly get a sense of the singer-songwriter’s ability to act as a conduit of the unfiltered essence of the human experience.

Stream Woman Please with the full Fugue LP on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Weather the storm with Chris Chism’s indie Americana folk exposition of introspection, When It Rains Down on School Street

Chris Chism’s single ‘When It Rains Down on School Street’ is a folk offering steeped in Americana and visceral emotion, reminiscent of a melancholic gaze through a rain-glazed window. This consolingly evocative release spills into the soul, embodying the essence of introspective folk music.

The gentle, finger-picked guitars in the track carry an alt-country flair, intricately woven and effortlessly carrying Chism’s vocal notes. His voice, a shot to the heart, resonates in the celestially timbered vein of Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Ray LaMontagne. It’s this combination of delicate guitar work and soul-stirring vocals that elevates the single to the epitome of pensive solace.

‘When It Rains Down on School Street’ aches for both literal and metaphorical brighter days; Chism’s ability to capture this longing, coupled with a sense of cynicism that often accompanies life’s storms, makes the track a poignant reflection of the human condition.

Raised on a diet of bluegrass and classic country, Chism’s roots are evident in his music. His journey from metal and punk to the folk and country scenes has culminated in a sound that will see him go far. Now a fixture in North Carolina’s folk scene, his music reflects the stories and struggles of working-class people, infused with raw honesty and deep personal connections.

When It Rains Down on School Street was officially released on March 25; stream the single on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Harmonising Gems: Nick Cody’s Journey Through ‘Covering These Tracks Vol II’

Nick Cody

This week, A&R Factory had the privilege of sitting down with Nick Cody, a maestro in the art of musical reinvention. We explored the intricate layers of his latest masterpiece, ‘Covering These Tracks Vol II‘. This album is a mosaic of musical exploration, blending classic hits with lesser-known treasures. Cody’s approach to this project was akin to a musical alchemist, transforming and transcending genres with a simple yet profound setup: a guitar, a violin, and the harmonious interplay of two distinct voices. As we delved deeper, Cody revealed the nuances of his creative process, the challenges of embodying other artists’ universes, and the exhilarating journey of bringing this ambitious project to life, both in the studio and on the stage.

Nick Cody, thanks for sitting down with us to discuss your latest release. Could you share the creative spark behind the conception of your second ‘Covering These Tracks’ album? 

Originally the plan was to create an EP with my Californian friends Towse and Corwin Zekley with Harry Orme from the UK. This EP idea became a mini album ‘Covering these tracks volume I” and we had so many ideas and magical moments, I decided to do a second album.

My rule of thumb was that we would only have two instruments, guitar, and violin and two vocals from Towse and myself. Covering these tracks volume II is even more ambitious than the first album.

As well as recording classics like Joni Mitchell’s “Case of you” and Nick Cave’s “Nobody’s baby now” I also chose some hidden gems like “Gold” from Peter Blegvad and “Name Hoppin” from Ray Wylie Hubbard, two fantastic songs that deserve to be heard. So, the creative spark was finding well known and hidden gems that have great melodies and sharp lyrics, transporting the listener to a new space of magic and fascination.

How does it differ from your previous projects? 

This project is more ambitious in that when you step into another artist’s universe when recording and that’s a very different experience than simply listening to their songs. A good example is one of the verses on Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” . This is where on the second line Bruce adds a huge number of words that all need to fit with the melody.

The first part – “Now I been looking for a job, but it’s hard to find” is simple enough, BUT the next line is –

Down here, it’s just winners and losers and “Don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line”.

This requires the singer to really focus in articulating every word and delivering it all in the same bar.

Bruce is mostly about telling stories and the lyrics are invaluable in every song with no waste. I first came across him with the brilliant Born to Run album and have been listening ever since.

With Joni Mitchell it’s a very different style, but also with killer lyrics including the following first verse of “Case of you

“Just before our love got lost you said,

“I am as constant as a northern star,”

And I said, “Constantly in the darkness,

Where’s that at?

If you want me, I’ll be in the bar.”

This project is about travelling to and inhabiting other artist’s universes in creating new versions of their songs. This is both equally fascinating and challenging. I’m really pleased with the final results and can’t wat to play these tracks live.

How did the collaboration with Towse, Corwin Zekley, and Harry Orme shape the sound and direction of this album? What unique elements did each artist bring to the table?

On this album, Harry Orme plays all the guitar parts. Harry is a truly gifted player and quite brilliant at 100% nailing the sound. If he were a chef, he’d have three Michelin stars, without doubt. Once I have the guitar parts, I’ll lay down my vocals. The mix then goes to Towse, and I will say “Do what you think works best, I trust your musical instincts”.

This is our third album, and this has always been my approach. Towse always knocks it out of the park and Carl Rosamond (my producer) and I love to receive those parts. It’s like Xmas day opening a great present when those files land.

Once we do the mix with towse, the file then goes to Corwin who has a unique sound unlike anyone else. Corwin and Towse are like creatures from another dimension and the result is to my ears pure magic. I played Jon Gomm a couple of the new tracks “Gold” and “Crashing and Burning” by Fred Eaglesmith and his response told me we really had something with this collaboration.

With the live showcase in Leeds on the horizon, how are you feeling about bringing this album to life on stage? What can your fans expect from this performance?

Leeds April 26th will be a special album launch with sets by Harry, Towse and Corwin as well as all of us playing together with other members of the expanded Heartache ensemble that include David Bowie Jnr on bass, Rich Ferdi on percussion, Jon Burr on Harmonica. I’ll also be doing a set with my Caravan of Dreams ensemble that includes the brilliant vocalist “Agi” who I have been working with for many years.

This new album is more challenging, so we are rehearsing hard to deliver the very best performance. At times there will be up to eight of us on stage, so that’s a lot of moving parts! We’ll be playing many of these tracks for the very first time, so are rehearsing hard in the forthcoming weeks.

How does the dynamic of your fluid band line-up influence your creative process and the final output? 

My producer Carl calls this way of working “The Steely Dan model” where I surround myself with a tapestry of great musicians who can be brought in as and when needed on several projects. This fluid band line-up allows for a huge number of sonic possibilities and of course, I’m often working on a number of projects simultaneously.

Really excellent musicians are of course always busy and not sitting at home waiting for calls. I have a 12 – 18-month timeline for projects and I often choose songs and write with specific musicians in mind. With the Covering these tracks albums, I deliberately chose to work with three other musicians from the core group and the results have been so good, we’ve kept going with releasing a second album as well as more material “in the vault” for future release.

Rich Ferdi and Dave Bowie Jnr are my live ensemble choices for bass and percussion and of course, I’ve been working with these guys for years, so the dynamic works well. On the April 26 launch at times all eight of us will be playing live, so it’s going to be one of those “I was there!” nights I’m always on the lookout for exceptional talent to add to the growing ensemble and recently joined a choir as a side project where I’ve already spotted some gifted artists…

With performances planned from Leeds to Osaka, how do you approach adapting your music to resonate with such diverse audiences?

I’m choosing to only play very specific live dates these days and after the album launch, the Osaka date will be with my good friend Brian Cullen. Brian is an excellent mandolin and guitar player as well as a great vocalist. My experience is that most audiences love something that is performed really well and engages them both musically and lyrically. This is universally true regardless of whether I’m in New York, or at The Lagoa Guitar Festival in Portugal.

The Lagoa Guitar Festival main stage in Portugal was only my third-ever live performance back in 2016, a baptism of fire, equally (at the time) terrifying and inspiring! Since then, I have had a lot more experience and doing support for artists like Jon Gomm and Martin Simpson has really helped me develop my skills when playing live. 

How has working with Carl Rosamond influenced the production of your music? Can you share any insights into this creative partnership?

Carl Rosamond is like my “George Martin”, the hub of the sonic wheel in all my projects. We’ve worked together now for many years, and I’ve always had a policy of sitting in with him throughout the whole mixing and mastering process. He’s massively in demand, so I block book studio time for projects, and we’ve always got something on the go. We also work in a very relaxed manner and since COVID I’m doing all my vocal parts in my own studio with the excellent Austrian Audio mics. The Covering These Tracks project is the most stripped-down work I have done to date, with two instruments and two vocals, but it’s a huge sound. The press feedback increasingly highlights just how great the production is and of course that helps massively with radio plays.

We have our recording ritual where we start at 10 am on a weekday. We have all the raw tracks ready to be mixed and I turn up with vegetarian sushi made that day by my wife Sue, for the session. We then go to work and the rule of thumb is that we’ll work straight through until 6 pm to mix a track. I estimate we’ve worked on around 80 – 90 tracks to date and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

Is there an element of your music that you feel is best captured in a live setting?

The live setting is unlike any other experience. I spend a lot of time designing a set to make sure like a movie, there’s a beginning, middle and conclusion. I really like to stretch out and improvise with some songs and am reminded of the many years when I saw The Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre in New York. They would invite special guests and have great sections of improvisation in songs that are sonically pure magic.

I’m interested in creating the same dynamic and when you have access to artists of the calibre of Corwin, Towse, Laurent Zeller from France, Michael Ross from Nashville, and Jon Burr, live performances can be pure magic. Some of my original tracks like “Slow News Day” and “Perfect Place” are great for showcasing fantastic improvisational passages and letting these great artists really go for it!

Looking beyond the release of ‘Covering These Tracks’, do you have any future projects or directions you are particularly excited about exploring?

For the first time involved in a choir project and have become absolutely fascinated by the experience. It’s a totally different way of working, essentially ‘an orchestra of 60 voices”.

I’m pondering a cover single release using a choir for 2025. This is extremely ambitious, but I can already hear how this would work on one of the tracks I already have “in the vault”.

The plan is for a third “Covering These Tracks” album, but this will be with an expanded ensemble and there’s no rush to complete this, I’m taking my time. As well as all this I’m finalising the second electric Nick Cody & The Heartache album, “This is Love and Heartache”.

One thing is certain, there’s a lot more music in the pipeline and we’ll as always be pushing the boundaries of what we are creating.

Stream Covering These Tracks Vol II from April 19th on Bandcamp.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Step into a spiritual awakening with DORA GOLA’s alt-folk séance, Humble Your Eyes

DORA GOLA’s latest single, ‘Humble Your Eyes’, is a mesmerising journey into the heart of alt-folk, infused with a deep spirituality that resonates with every note. Born in Poland and blossoming in Ireland, DORAG GOLA’s unique blend of Eastern European folk and traditional Irish folk testifies to her profound connection with music and nature.

The track begins with percussion that awakens something primal within the listener, a call to the roots of human existence. The arcane elements of European folk music add a layer of mystique, enhancing the transcendence of her vocal lines which ascend endlessly to deliver a slice of salvation for the soul and an invitation to attune oneself to the mystical allure of nature.

GOLA’s journey from a childhood steeped in a diverse musical heritage to her immersion in Irish culture and mythology has culminated in this hauntingly beautiful single. Her voice, a powerful and sensual force, draws listeners into a narrative of Earth’s consciousness and human longing. The fusion of Slavic folk, brooding synths, and lavish Eastern sounds reaches the epitome of alt-folk innovation. Do your psyche a favour and hit play.

Humble Your Eyes will drop on March 29th; check out the single on DORA GOLA’s official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast