Nicole Atkins has had some turbulent times in recent years, but more recently found herself in a better place and able to record a new album – the rather excellent Goodnight Rhonda Lee. One old friend who encouraged her was Chris Isaak, who in the midst of all her soul-searching and soul-baring suggested that she write songs that emphasised the one trait that most sets her apart from the mere mortals of the industry, telling her, “Atkins, you have a very special thing in your voice that a lot of people can’t or don’t do. You need to stop shying away from that thing and let people hear it.” He was right – and the result was the instant classic A Little Crazy.
Brooklyn singer songwriter Paul Tabachneck has been writing in his own words “relationshippy” music for a while now, but world events have turned his head to another subject. He told us: “One reason I always gave short shrift to political songs is that I always found them to have an incredibly short shelf-life — if I wrote a song one day about how Bill Clinton was being raked through the mud, it would turn out the next day that the blow-job stuff was true. If I wrote about how it was time to move on from Bush to Kerry, Kerry would lose and the song would expire. This is the first political song I’ve written whose lines keep gaining relevance as the term serves out – he keeps making the same missteps, the same ways, on larger and larger scales – so I decided to put this one out on orange vinyl, sell it at a premium, and give the profits to the ACLU.” You can pre-order the vinyl here today if you’re feeling flush.
Joan Osborne has just released an album of Bob Dylan covers, review coming up on AUK soon, and from that record she’s releasing a single. Speaking about her version of ‘Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)’, Osborne says: “We went back and listened to a few other versions of ‘The Mighty Quinn,’ and I was struck by the gospel flavour of Manford Mann’s 1960s cover. My co-producer, Jack Petruzzelli, had been listening to the Edwin Hawkins track ‘Oh Happy Day,’ and suggested changing just one chord in the song to accentuate that gospel flavour. When we did that, it really lifted my vocal performance and brought it to a very joyful, celebratory place. Whoever ‘Quinn the Eskimo’ is, we eagerly anticipate his arrival!” We think it might be Ian Duncan Smith in disguise.
Moonsville Collective is a Southern California five piece whose new album “Moonsville III” comes out on September 8th promising “sonically warmer, more upbeat waters” for these troubled times. Their new single from the record, Hurricane Girl is an understated, bluegrass train shuffle and love song with a brush-snare backbeat and mandolin solo that channels Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter’s delicate indie/folk sound, and the band’s communal, nostalgiac approach to “music for music’s sake.” Simon Cowell would not be pleased.
Silver Torches is Erik Walters, a touring member of Perfume Genius and David Bazan’s band, and his first single from his forthcoming album If I Reach dropped on Stereogum earlier this week, a synth laden, heavily Springsteen influenced number. The new album dips in and out of americana, with the legendary Greg Leisz lending some pedal steel to a couple tracks and guest appearances from Courtney Marie Andrews and Noah Gundersen. AUK and synths. The end of the world must be nigh.
21st Century is the new single from lead singer and songwriter for The Felice Brothers Ian Felice (or “H Felice” as Steps fans would say) taken from his debut solo album ‘In The Kingdom Of Dreams’. He told The Bluegrass Situation: “21st Century’ is a three-chord song about the paranoid breakdown of someone’s reality. I wrote it on the banjo right after the November election as geese flew clockwise into the red sky. My brothers Simone and James accompanied me, as well as my friend Josh Rawson on bass guitar.” Catch him on tour in November – dates below.
The music of Canadian band Port Cities balances Nashville with Nova Scotia into a rustic and atmospheric sound, with an indie intimacy that betrays the band’s globe-trotting ambitions – 2017 sees them embark upon their second cross-Canadian and European tours. Their new single Where Have You Been has some nice oozing harmonies and intricate slide guitar. As band member Carleton Stone explains, “One thing we all seem to connect with lyrically is showing a less-than-perfect idea of love, and not being scared to talk about how everything is not great, or call out a lot of what normal, traditional love songs would be about.” As a bonus the song has been marked “clean” too so you can play it to your mum.
Is Happy Abandon the point where Mumford & Sons meet Mogwai ? Perhaps, but Severed Seams – the latest track to be released from Happy Abandon’s upcoming album Facepaint – is a stirring blend of banjo and drum indie-folk mixed with enormous crescendo hitting orchestral rock. However, Peter Vance (vocals & guitar) is quick to point out that Facepaint is not a breakup album. He explains “if the album were to have a subject, it would be the relationship a person has to loss and loneliness, which can manifest itself through breakups, homelessness, familial abandonment, and death”. In other words – it’s just the kind of cheerful stuff that’s food and drink to the Americana-UK crowd. The album is out on 25th August 2017 via Schoolkids Records.
This is absolutely lovely. “Sun to My Moon” is the second studio album from Lucy Kitchen, a journey spanning fragile stripped back confessionals to Americana, to psychedelic-tinged harmony laden anthems. It’s out September 1st and this particular track from it features some gorgeous strings and more than a nod towards Sandy Denny. Catch her on the cosiest run of dates you’ll see this year (below the clip)
Stays On is the rather lovely new single from New York born singer/songwriter Metaxas, who Music Week described as “the kind of artist who will permanently carve his folk & downtempo infused songs in to your psyche.” Due out 1st September, it’s about “something or someone that adds purpose, meaning and value to your life”, with echoes of Joshua Radin or Simon & Garfunkel. He now calls London his home so you don’t have to go far if you love the song so much you become obsessive and want to stalk him. Find out more about Metaxas over at his website (not his home address though).