AUK’s EP Round-Up – November 2023

It’s that time again and here’s a round-up of this month’s EP releases. We’ve had a lot of submissions recently (because it’s not long to Christmas?) so there is no time or space to analyse each one in detail but the list will give you an idea of what’s out there EP-wise.

The Pairs are a three-piece vocal group from Canada consisting of sisters Noelle Francis and Renée Coughlin along with Hilary Watson. Their new EP is titled ‘When Will We Find Our Way’ and features six tracks that highlight the trio’s soaring harmonies which at times are reminiscent of The Nields and The Roches – there’s something about sibling voices meshing together seamlessly and delightfully that raises the spirits and ‘When Will We Find Our Way’ is a perfect example of just that.

Brighton based The Curst Sons have been part of the local scene for over two decades releasing six albums the last of which was released in 2016. The band’s new EP is called ‘The Curst Sons Live’ and was recorded in June this year at the Wimborne Folk Fringe. The five excellent tracks feature the trio’s brand of what has been called Hillbilly Blues or even Thrash Skiffle.

‘Hurry Up’ is the debut release from Georgia native C M Jones. Recorded at Standard Electric Recorders Co. in Atlanta, the five tracks see Jones joined by some local musicians including The Groundscore Trio. Jones describes his music as “Very sad overly sentimental and likely won’t be the first choice for BBQs or house parties” so perfect for the long, dark, cold nights ahead this coming winter.

Another EP perfect for winter listening is from Swedish folk rock singer Lovisa Holten whose music has been defined as melancholic with beautiful melodies and colourful lyrics. The four tracks on ‘The Garden’ are a mix of gentle and folky, and the more rockier. Holten has the perfect voice, sometimes wistful, sometimes more powerful, for this EP of songs of love, sadness, freedom and longing.

London band Bear’s Den have been around for quite a while, releasing their first album back in 2014. The band are basically a duo consisting of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones. Their new EP is called ‘White Magnolias’. There are four songs of which songwriter Davie says, “On a songwriting level, I feel these are some of the most intimate songs I’ve ever written”. A four-date residency at Union Chapel this year shows how popular the band are and ‘White Magnolias’ will only enhance their reputation.

‘The Name’ is the title of Claire Hawkins’ new EP, the third she’s released. Hawkins has a powerful voice that she showcases superbly on the five tracks that make up the EP. Self-described as a “globetrotting singer/songwriter”, Hawkins is certainly that with the songs written in Germany, recorded in Thailand with production in New York and videos shot in Ireland! With influences ranging from Brandi Carlile to Olivia Rodrigo, ‘The Name’ reflects the inspiration Hawkins has collected on her travels.

The Skydiggers have been around a long time having released their first album way back in 1990 and have released another 14 albums since. Now the band who are basically a duo, Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson have released an EP ‘Bide Your Time’.  The songs have a world-weary, lived in feel – as Maize explains These songs carry a common mood that is somewhere between wistful and contemplative”.

Rose Gerber is a Portland Oregon based singer/songwriter Rose Gerber new EP ‘Memories Someday’ contains four tracks that showcase not only Gerber’s songwriting but her heavy-duty, heart-breaking vocals which have been compared favourably to the likes of Gillian Welch and Natalie Merchant and there are traces of both throughout the four songs. As Gerber says, “My songwriting is a tool to help me work through feelings and things I can’t always talk about”.

Elephant Path is the non-de-plume of  Salt Lake City based Devin Snelling and the four-track EP ‘Keep Walking’ is their/his latest release. The four tracks are all very different and are inspired by Snelling’s Midwest experience. Two of the tracks are quite bluesy in feel while the other two are a bit more folky and acoustic but they all flow together to make an interesting whole.

Tyler James Johnson is a Canadian singer/songwriter based in Victoria, British Columbia. His debut release is a six-track EP ‘Songs For Everyone’ recorded at Neighborhood Recorders in his hometown. He’s aided and abetted by Jennifer Croden who not only sings on most of the tracks but also assists Johnson with songwriting edits. At times they sound more like a duo rather than a solo act especially on the opening song the rousing ‘By The Time I Get To Nashville’ and also on the ballad ‘New Day. 

Searows is the name Pacific Northwest singer/songwriter Alec Duckart performs under and his latest release is the five-track EP ‘End Of The World’. His songs are gentle, wistful and often melancholic and his soft, almost feminine voice fits them perfectly as does the lo-fi production. Duckart sounds like a gentle soul but suffused through his songs is a lot of angst which as he says, “I think on this EP I’m dealing with a lot of the same themes surrounding anxiety but through the lens of someone who has grown and learned a coping mechanism or two”.

The last EP in this month’s round-up is ‘Devil Songs And Other Such Nonsense’. The intriguingly titled release is from country singer/songwriter Kimberly Morgan York, who’s Kentucky born but now lives in Athens GA . There are two songs with “devil” in the title, ‘The Devil’s In Durango’ and ‘The Devil Works All the Year Long’ although there’s nothing satanic about them as this is a classic country EP with lots of pedal steel, Floyd Cramer style piano and York’s honeyed Dolly Parton/Loretta Lynn infused vocals.

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