The Portland-based soulstress, Karyn Ann, released her debut album in 2015; after her sophomore album released in 2018, she started to garner critical acclaim and international airplay for her effortlessly powerful vocals and the emotional depth of her lyricism.
Her latest single, Wasting Time, gracefully captures the collective anxiety around watching the sands of time slip while failing to keep hold of anything that brings intrinsic meaning. After we’ve all endured 18 months of lockdown to some degree, Wasting Time is the perfect playlist staple for anyone seeking a little compassion.
The Americana singer-songwriter’s ability to weave a narrative through emotion, poetry and arrestingly minimal melodies is almost unparalleled. We’re fairly certain that this won’t be the last time that Karyn Ann leaves us mesmerised by her almost arcane sense of soul.
If you’ve been noticing the lingering sense of anxiety in the air, you will also note the timeliness of the Folk singer-songwriter Shannon’s single, For Now. The lyrics advocate for self-care while the instrumentals strip the weight from your shoulders with the blissful tones and compassionate melodies.
The bedroom-recorded single that is due for release on October 1st was remotely produced by Rachel Still who discernibly brought plenty of collaborative chemistry to the euphorically soulful, celestially layered single.
In the prelude, there’s a dreamy sense of nostalgia as Shannon exudes the grace of a 1950s chanteuse; as the single progresses, it soulfully picks up modernism on the way.
With years of songwriting behind him, LeoJJChill has given us a taste of what we can expect from his future releases. Anyone who found them ensnared by Nick Cave’s new material created in collaboration with Warren Ellis will quickly become ensnared by the ease of the melodies and the command of the vocals above the gentle acoustic guitar progressions.
His songwriting that takes you right back to the roots of folk is simple, but it isn’t without soul or authentic artistic licence, and that is exactly what leaves you absorbed by LeoJJChill’s less-than-archetypal approach to lo-fi folk. We eagerly await his official indie-folk debut.
Singer-songwriter Neil Armstrong first won us over with his cinematic folk exploration of Western movie culture through his single, Falling Man, in 2020. With his latest single, Moon, he’s gone interstellar.
The soulfully rendered piano pop single carries an expressive yet tender flamboyance that should be a hit with fans of Elton John, Bowie and ELO. Armstrong truly comes into his own through his huskily affectionate vocals and his lyrics that draw parallels between the cosmos and the connections we make with each other.
Neil Armstrong may be the only person in 2021 venturing into space that isn’t a total douche. Forget about the space race and immerse yourself in this passion-driven sweet serenade instead.
Moon officially released on August 21st; you can check it out for yourselves here.
Classically trained Austin, Texas-born singer-songwriter Kelsey Hughen has released her latest cinematic Celtic folk single, House on a Hilltop; the semi-orchestral single captures Hughen’s genre-fluid at its most arcane.
The celestial timbre of the instrumentals sets a fantastical tone, as the lyrics yearn for an escape from the struggle of conformity with the one person that you can strip back the façade with unashamedly. House on a Hilltop is easily one of the sincerest love songs to hit the airwaves this year. The way it captures the security of love that frees us is just beyond beautiful.
House on Hilltop is now available to stream via Spotify.
Down the Creek is the latest single to be released by the conceptually expressive singer-songwriter Janae Genna, featuring vocals from Alex Johnston. It was co-written by Janae Genna and Justin Brittain as part of the score for the film, Here Now. The accordant lullaby starts archetypally before the folksy single takes on an eerier tone, progressing almost in the same way as the cult-hit folk film Midsommar – before all the gore.`
Janae Genna’s and Alex Johnston’s layered harmonies give the otherwise minimalist soundscape a panoramically dynamic feel but as the single gears towards the outro, an uneasiness nestles into the release. The sense of anticipation it leaves you with could only be described as immense. You come to expect an ending akin to Nick Cave’s Where the Wild Roses Grow, you’re left with a foreboding unknown.
Soul-folk sensation Jane Allison has released her latest single, Don’t Spill Water; with disco, funk, psych-pop and blues-rock written into the mellifluous mix, it’s impossible not to get swept up by the vibrant energy.
The Welsh singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actress seems to emanate as much magnetism on screen as she does through her captivatingly narrative singles. She may stay true to the storytelling roots of Folk, but when it comes to her sonic style, that is where the bold experimentalism grips you.
Through the choppy staccato chords and rich ABBA-Esque vocals, Don’t Spill Water is an intoxicating invitation to strip yourself of the resentful weight you carry through life. That’s a reminder that we all need from time to time.
Don’t Spill Water is now available to stream on YouTube.
The Cautionary Tale of Richard Manuel is the indie psych-folk debut single from Woodstock-based, California-born singer-songwriter Marc Delgado. If the styles of Paul Simon, the National and Dinosaur Jr coalesced, the sonic result wouldn’t be all too far from Delgado’s debut that pulls the storytelling roots of folk up through a sleek and modern production.
The kicking beat, lofty colourful guitars and spacy synths converge to create a psychedelic platform for Delgado’s instantly magnetic vocals that draw you in by the unapologetically unadulterated passion to provide 3:28 minutes of total aural escapism.
The Cautionary Tale of Richard Manuel is now available to stream via Spotify.
Oregon-born folk singer-songwriter ELLSWORTH’s latest single, Potholes, carries the same amount of soul as Jack Johnson’s consoling releases, the Americana escapism of Dylan’s records in the 70s and the same melancholic air that truthfully resides in us all from time to time.
The relatability in this façade-less dreamy feat of folky bluegrass indie sweetens the already choral tones. With lyrics such as ‘turn my body inside out, I shook it real hard, nothing fell out’ for your mind to devour, you’d have to be dead from the soul down not to feel something as you listen to Potholes weave through the stunningly composed progressions.
Award-winning Scottish alt-folk singer-songwriter Colin Clyne’s latest single, Within Hindsight, takes you back to the time when ballads were tender and minimal instrumentation carried alchemically profound magnetism.
The tones in Within Hindsight are enough to evoke synaesthesia as you drink in the sepia colours weaved into the acoustic guitar progression and soft neo-classic-style meanderings of the piano. The gravelly whisky-soaked vocals hit the high notes with soaring ease, allowing Clyne to exhibit both his arresting vocal range and emotional range. They say that there are 34,000 possible human emotions, Within Hindsight resonates as capable of evoking most of them.
After spending ten years in California collecting accolades, including being a two-time winner of ‘The Best Acoustic Act’ at San Diego Music Awards, and featuring on a list of the best singer-songwriters curated by NBC that listed him alongside Tom Waits, it is safe to say that he made quite the impression. There is no reason why he can’t celebrate the same success on this side of the pond.
Within Hindsight is due for official release on June 25th.