Lounna orchestrated the sound of spring into her latest indie-folk reverie, Peak Season; a single that resonates with the soul’s longing for renewal and connection.
The Pittsburgh-based multi-instrumentalist, drawing inspiration from the likes of Bear’s Den and First Aid Kit, infused her latest single, taken from her Garden for Winter LP, with a unique blend of indie, folk, Americana and naturalism, and signalled her departure from her more whimsical approach to songwriting from her debut. By delving into more profound themes of mental health, resilience, and hope. The single is a harmonious amalgamation of lyrical depth and orchestral richness, with crystalline vocal harmonies commanding the ensemble with an effortless grace.
The track opens with a melodic embrace that gently uplifts the listener, symbolising the shedding of winter’s weariness. Lounna’s voice, soothing yet potent, weaves through the instrumentation with a narrative that echoes candour and resounds through universal relatability.
The orchestral backdrop, carefully crafted with Slate’s collaborator Daniel Blake, adds a panoramic dimension to the song, allowing each instrument to converse and complement the vocals, rather than overpower them. Peak Season allows you to stand at the shores of your own introspection while washing over you as a cathartic release from the clutches of life’s darker moments. It’s a sublime feat of originality and expression, that has left us with bated breath to see what’s to come from Lounna.
Stream Peak Season from February 16th on Bandcamp.
In Luanne Hunt’s 2024 album, Miles & Memories, the single, The Vice, is a standout feature in the series of vignettes, soul-stirringly portrayed through the lens of Americana folk nostalgia.
The lyrical journey is a testament to Hunt’s magnetism as a storyteller and musician. The song’s stripped-back arrangement, accentuated by the haunting resonance of folk strings, creates an intimate soundscape that allows Hunt’s narrative to take centre stage.
The Vice is a serenade that delves into the life of a man ensnared by hedonistic desires, a theme that resonates with the album’s overarching exploration of human experiences and memories. Hunt’s portrayal of this lone wolf ‘king of bluff’, with his penchant for Jim Bean, is both evocative and empathetic. Even those who live by the live and let live ethos will come to pity the protagonist. Hunt’s ability to paint vivid portraits and bring you emotionally in tune with them is unparalleled.
Each note and chord was meticulously chosen to complement the storytelling. The quiver of the strings not only reverberates through the heart but also underscores the emotional depth of the lyrics. Luanne Hunt, with her 24th album, has created a piece of profound resonance, which transcends the boundaries of genre and style. We can’t wait to hear the 25th.
The Miles & Memories was officially released on January 15. It is now available to stream in full on Spotify.
Staying true to folk roots while not getting entrenched in its antiquities, the Nashville indie folk quartet McKay made the genre relevant for this generation with their larger-than-life rendition of their latest single, Last Man Alive.
If you have ever immersed yourself in apocalyptic sci-fi media and wondered if you would have the determination to endeavour or simply submit to the same fate that removed the majority of the planet, you’ll hear familiar thoughts and questions echoed back at you. But McKay goes even further by touching on all of the ways that we make sense of space and time as society keeps on buzzing away. It’s impossible not to become caught up in a state of contemplation as you listen to the harmonica blow over the raw folk chords and Hudson Haining’s pontificating vocals, which bring you right into the introspective world the promising outfit constructed.
With the evocative pull of Deathcab for Cutie fused with the sonics of Neutral Milk Hotel, McKay’s sound is original as it is intimately affecting.
Last Man Alive will be available to stream on all major platforms from January 28; stream it on SoundCloud first.
Despite Christmas music often treading the well-worn path of jingle bells and festive clichés, Alison Wahl and Brian Berggoetz brought a refreshing gust of Americana folk rock into the Yuletide soundscape with their latest single, Christmas is the Right Time for Us.
Brian Berggoetz, a self-taught guitarist and a songwriter with a flair for reinventing classics, infuses his unique style into this holiday offering. His experience, ranging from performing at SXSW Festival to sharing stages with notable artists, shines through in the song’s intricate guitar work. The absence of traditional motifs and melancholy of aural nostalgia in favour of Americana folk elements is a bold choice, which infuses the song with an uplifting and authentic feel.
Alison Wahl’s vocal harmonies intertwine perfectly with Brian’s, creating a tapestry of sound that is both warm and inviting. The standout lyric, “When love is just enough, Christmas is the right time for us”, encapsulates the essence of the song – a celebration of love and togetherness that transcends materialism. This lyric, in its simplicity, captures the heart of the holiday spirit, reminding listeners that affection and emotional connection are priceless gifts.
The production of the song is a delicate balance of subtlety and strength, allowing the dual harmonies to take centre stage in a track that doesn’t just aim to be another Christmas hit but strives to leave a lasting impression on its listeners.
Christmas is the Right Time for Us was officially released on December 11; stream it on Spotify.
If you can relate to the melancholy of your dreams being more serene than your waking reality, prepare to be bruised by the emotional weight that will bear down on you when you hit play on the bitter-sweet folky acoustic pop lullaby, Go Back to Sleep, by the harmonically synergetic duo, Outpost Drive.
Between the aching of yearning and the gratitude of revisiting memories, Go Back to Sleep immediately cuts to the core of emotional juxtapositions when you are brought to tears recollecting the person who always knew how to make you turn a smile but only exists in dream. The lyric, “I’m lonely as I am free”, alluding to how life is just a dichotomy of Pepsi and Coke suffering, is especially potent as it cuts through the euphonically timeless orchestration, which proves how arcane instrumental minimalism can be when it is executed with superlative melodic command.
Willow Robinson and Mary Bragg Robinson, hailing from the English countryside and the American South, respectively marry the styles of British folk with Americana to deliver a sound that is as inventive as it is authentically all-consuming. The debut is a testament to the ability of love to transcend borders after the couple endured a year-long hiatus due to immigration hurdles. We can’t wait to hear what the ultimate folk power couple have in store for their sophomore release.
Go Back to Sleep was officially released on November 10th; stream it on Spotify or purchase the track on Apple Music.
With the macabre murder folk proclivities of Amigo the Devil and the soul-affirming warmth of Tejon Street Corner Thieves, the Portland, Oregon-hailing band of Americana raconteurs, Beggars Canyon, breathed life into the existential reality of the human condition with their latest single, Silver Lining.
By staring mortality in the face and serenading the reaper with their arcanely uplifting vocal harmonies and authentic Americana Folk arrangement of folky strings, banjos, and guitars that insinuate that the devil made a pitstop in Portland before he went down to Georgia, Beggars Canyon extracted the pensive sting from the human experience with their endearing approach to song crafting which has allowed them to build a cult-like following and amass 13,000 monthly Spotify listeners.
Silver Lining was an all-too promising precursor to Beggars Canyon’s sophomore LP, Vol. II, which was released via Flail Records and is now available to stream and purchase.
If you can already feel Seasonal Affective Disorder kicking in, sink into the latest single, Long Hard Winter, by the Americana folk raconteur Ben Brooks.
Created in collaboration with EG Vines, the meta single cleverly runs in the parallels between the winter phases of our lifetimes and the bitterly cold season which leaves serotonin in short supply; both of which leave us yearning for the spring and summer of youth and the warmth that allows the trees to blossom.
With a sonic style as arrestingly affecting as Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Ben Brooks, who has recently found his voice and inspiration again post-Covid, is perceptibly back in his stride. This bitter-sweet earworm will undoubtedly become a great source of comfort for many as the leaf litter thickens and days darken. Even though it was written during the hardest winter during the pandemic, it’s a smorgasbord of sun-toned soul.
To kick off their eponymous EP, the Minneapolis band The Way Back Yard put their own baroque spin on the folk classic Wayfaring Stranger. The vignette of a world-weary soul traversing dirt roads in a bid for self-discovery may have been around since long before the Civil War, but it still lyrically rings just as true today in an era that is blighted by a collective loss of meaning.
The folky Americana retelling of the melancholic tale will embed itself deep within your soul; with every cello and violin sting pull, you will feel more of the gravity projected by the three-part harmonies that The Way Back Yard has become revered for.
They’ve come a long way since playing in backyards in the Twin Cities; their Crosby, Stills and Nash-inspired melodies have received extensive radio and podcast plays, and they’ve become part of the furniture in the Minneapolis bluegrass scene. On the basis of the gravitas in their cover of Wayfaring Stranger, it is about time for them to become a global folk phenomenon.
The self-titled EP from The Way Back Yard is now available to stream on Spotify.
The Brothers Reed’s latest single, Home, is sweet enough to make you homesick for a place you’ve never been. If that doesn’t stand as a testament to stellar songwriting and performative charisma, I’m not entirely sure what does.
The playful bluegrass roots blossom in the eclectic yet traditional folk instrumental arrangement while the lyrics and honky-tonk vocals paint a vivacious picture of miles travelled and home comforts yearned for. If you don’t feel the oxytocin start to flow by the time you’ve hit the romantically punchy chorus, you might want to check that you’ve still got a pulse. We can’t wait to hear what follows after the Brothers Reed’s stint away from the airwaves.
Home will be available to stream everywhere from April 8th, including SoundCloud.
Scottish songwriter, composer and guitarist, Mark Lewis Heavenor has released his most poignant work to date with his morosely gruff art-folk single, Young Boy. While the soundscape paints a quaint sepia-toned ramshackle town in your mind, the music video juxtaposes it by using a soul-sucking British ghost town as a location to place two dancers as they find inspiration despite the lamentable landscape.
Like many artists, Heavenor pulls plenty of inspiration from Tom Waits to create his own artfully rich sound but in every progression, you hear Heavenor push past assimilation into the realm of authentic creation.
The weight of the heavy yet bright vocals crawls under your ribs as you listen to the art-folk instrumentals quiver, rattle and angularly blossom from the fretboard. With the gentleness of Elliott Smith, the lyrical conviction of Kurt Cobain in his more melodious work and the cinematic pull of his Flamenco/Americana Folk guitars, you’d have to be soulless not to be spellbound.
The official video for Young Boy premiered on October 20th; it is a stunner; go check it out on YouTube.