Browsing Tag

Folk Singer Songwriter

Entwine with Alba James’s folk-pop reverie, You Belong to Me

In their latest single, You Belong to Me, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alba James equally exhibited their profound connection to music and nature. Hitting play opens a doorway to a portal of fantasy, constructed by a mind attuned to folk-tale reverie; in the same vein as Cosmo Sheldrake, James rhythmically renders naturalism into her productions, which also tap into the enduring appeal of Dodie and Sufjan Stevens.

Though the title of the single implies possession, the free-spirited energy that breezes throughout the production with the retrospection of affection acts as an unexpected contradiction. James’ arcanely serene vocal lines drift through the organic layers of instrumentation attesting to how integral giving room to breathe is in a world full of confines.

Despite their relatively fresh innings in the music industry, the French Sweden-residing folk-pop troubadour allowed their aural talents to blossom from a young age before releasing their debut single, One in a Million, in 2020. Since then, they’ve shared 13 singles and their critically acclaimed EP, Bedroom Walls ahead of You Belong to Me. Even though nothing is off lyrical limits, themes of ancient mythology, queer love and nature are the cornerstone of the artist’s inspiration.

The next time you feel the need to touch grass, just tune into her discography instead.

Stream the official music video for You Belong to Me which premiered on May 7th via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

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

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

Belfast’s Fuar became the paragon of the loveable rogue in his folk debut, Leave the Light On

For his debut single, Leave the Light On, the Belfast-born-and-bred multi-instrumentalist Fuar put the faux Irish roots of Mumford & Sons to shame. If you want to get high on the fumes of authentic Irish folk, make Faur your dealer.

The infectiously upbeat acoustic folk anthem needed little more than his guitar chords, a solid backbeat and Faur’s naturally exhilarated charisma to drive the euphoria through the progressions of the hook-proliferated single which celebrates love and the ecstasy found in the sparks of connection.

With Faur’s affinity for punk giving Leave the Light On plenty of fiery rugged bite, he hasn’t just contributed to the rich tapestry of Irish folk music, he’s made his own matchless mark on the genre. With the promise of plenty more singles to come conflated with the commercial potential which courses through his debut, it is impossible not to anticipate Faur becoming one of the biggest breakthrough singer-songwriters in 2024. Watch this space.

Leave the Light On was officially released on March 16th; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Igloo Hearts exhibited a new installation of art-folk in their ornately rendered vignette, Watering Can

Igloo Hearts’ latest offering, ‘Watering Can‘, is a masterful blend of folk sensibilities with a touch of baroque elegance. This single, emerging from the heart of Wrexham, positions the married duo as a folk force to be reckoned with while echoing the artistry of legends like Tori Amos, Kate Bush, and Mitski.

Katie Macgregor’s soprano vocals are the centrefold of the art-folk piece. Her haunting and ethereal timbres, cascade over the keys, enveloping the listener in a cocoon of timeless yet contemporary flair. The emotion conveyed through her performance is palpable, resonating with a depth that speaks to the soul.

Watering Can is an arresting showcase of their captivating sound, marked by classical piano, mesmerising chord progressions, and flawless harmonies, influenced by Jesca Hoop, Radiohead, and Kate Bush. The duo’s refined musicianship has earned them recognition as runners-up in the Purbeck Folk Rising Competition and Radio Wigwam’s Awards along with numerous BBC Introducing radio plays. Their live performances, held at esteemed venues like the Liverpool Philharmonic and Llangollen International Eisteddfod have received critical praise from across the board.

As they continue to gain acclaim, including an upcoming feature on the Channel 4 series ‘The Piano’, any self-respecting folk fan will want Igloo Hearts on their radar.

Watering Can was officially released on February 16. Stream the single on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Lounna orchestrated the sound of spring into her indie-folk Americana release, Peak Season

Lounna

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.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

In Conversation with Phil Coomer: Unveiling the Healing Power of Love in Songwriting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNRKiL6PZT0

In an insightful interview with A&R Factory, Phil Coomer delved into the creative process behind his latest single, “All the Medicine I Need.” The song, born from a personal moment of realisation, transcends into a universal anthem about love’s healing power. Coomer shares how an injury and his girlfriend’s return sparked the song’s conception, highlighting love as the ultimate panacea. The interview also touches on influences like John Prine, the joy of songwriting, and themes in his upcoming album, offering a glimpse into Coomer’s artistic journey and the profound impact of relationships in his music.

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Can you tell us a little bit about your latest single, All the Medicine I Need?

“I tend to write about how I feel or how others feel and All The Medicine I Need does not vary from that methodology.  Because I had done a good job of injuring my left arm in the fall of 2023, I was looking for some kind of medicine that would help relieve the pain I was having in my arm.  I wasn’t having much luck but about that time my girlfriend came home from an extended trip abroad.  Her attention and caring made me forget all about the pain I was having.  I realized that she was all the medicine I needed.  When I was working on songs again, I thought that because I felt that way maybe others did too.  So, I started working on the song and it turned into being about the normal day in a regular person’s life and the restoration that tends to come when we are with our person our significant other.”

It’s such a great extension of the ‘love is a drug’ adage; was it difficult to transform the lyrics from a personal feeling to a universal sentiment? 

“Very quickly I realized that I could easily change the song from being about her and me to being for everyone.  The song is about any healing or restorative relationship.  He-her, her-her, him-him, parent-child, child-parent it always works no matter who sings to who.  It was as simple as changing “the girl” to “the one.”   I did talk to her about the change, and she said I should definitely change the lyrics so the song could speak to everyone’s feelings.  But she knows it’s her song.”

We love that the song started from a soulful epiphany and built from there; is that usually how your music comes to fruition?

“Yes, and I wish I could have epiphanies more often. I said earlier that I usually write about my feelings or the feelings of others. I don’t know why I’m wired that way.  Maybe others are too.  I was working on a song from a recent trip to NYC to the World Trade Center Memorial and to Strawberry Fields in Central Park the John Lennon Memorial and was just getting nowhere I was writing junk.  Finally, I decided to write from the perspective of a woman who had lost someone and to let her tell the story and It just flew out my mouth and onto the paper. It became, easy and natural yet different, wicked and soulful.  That song is called “Still Lives.”

Were there any particular artists who inspired the sound and style of the single?

“Yes, I think so. Musically to me it is very akin to a John Prine song in simplicity and matter of fact-ness.  There’s even a little Prine humor in the 1st verse line “and I guess elevators too”

What is the most rewarding aspect of the songwriting process for you?

“There is always some euphoria when you’ve framed in a new song and think it’s complete enough to play for someone else.  But I think a few months out when you’ve played the song in front of hundreds of people and it’s actually now part of you and there some sustained affection for the song that’s pretty nice too.”

How has your approach to songwriting evolved over the years, leading up to this release?

“I’d say that I moved more from writing the ballad or story of what occurred to the feeling or the impact the notion had on who is there or who found out and what it did to them.  It seems more endearing to me to show the effect of impact to us.”

You mentioned All the Medicine I Need will feature on your upcoming album; what other themes does the album explore?

“All The Medicine I Need is the first recording of the next project and a couple of the other songs are “Kissing Lessons” – written after seeing a bulletin board ad I came across at college.  Another song is called “Different Ride” which is what occurred to me when I’ve come across people who are still alive yet their fate is already written.”

Watch the official music video for Phil Coomer’s latest single, All the Medicine I Need, on YouTube.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Dreams and reality blur in Baz Edmondson’s artfully alternative folk single, The Shepherd’s Lullaby

Baz Edmondson’s sophomore release, ‘The Shepherd’s Lullaby‘, is an ornately tender foray into a euphonically artful world where dreams and reality blur into a harmonious symphony.

This single, beating in the heart of Bournemouth’s folk scene, is a testament to Edmondson’s stripes as a singer, songwriter, and storyteller. It is an intricate blend of traditional folk and art rock, showcasing Edmondson’s unique ability to take feelings and transform them into musical experiences that resound like no other.

The gentle piano keys, placed at the forefront around the orchestral strings and other folk synthetics amplify the sentiments in the sleep-dusted serenade which sees the instrumentals ebb and flow into crescendo, bringing a sense of grandeur while never overpowering the release.

Edmondson’s vocal delivery is reminiscent of Thom Yorke’s fervour, imbuing the song with a raw, emotional depth that is both captivating and haunting. The navigation through the highs and lows of the melody is a journey you will want to take with Baz Edmondson time after time.

For those seeking to rediscover the feeling of their soul being whole, Baz Edmondson’s intricately artful folk world is a journey worth embarking on.

The Shepherd’s Lullaby was officially released on January 31; stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Phil Coomer prescribed love as a drug in his latest release, All the Medicine I Need

https://youtu.be/eNRKiL6PZT0?si=2dDJrrguCrbBzFlA

The folk-pop evocateur Phil Coomer used all his award-winning song-writing stripes to decorate his latest single, All the Medicine I Need, with a sense of sentimentality that will see your soul swell with gratitude for everyone who sweetens your world.

As the orchestral strings quiver, the tenderly fingerpicked acoustic guitar strings amplify the warmth spilling from Coomer’s folky Americana harmonies which shine with crystalline soul as they emanate the soft and intimate folk vocal style of the late 60s and carry the same affecting mesmerism of Nick Drake.

Even when artists pen their own material, it isn’t a given that they will orchestrate something original; there’s never any danger of assimilative pedestrianism when you slip into a Phil Coomer folk score; just how it is possible for a salve for the soul to feel so expressively raw is an alchemic paradox that stands as a testament to his songwriting virtuosity.

All the Medicine I Need will be available to stream and purchase on all major platforms from 05/06/2024. Until then, you can stream the music video on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast