WALKING IN THE RAIN (Mixtape)

Enjoy this mixtape with some of the best and most melancholic folk songs released so far in 2019. I tried to compose the ideal soundtrack for a walk in the rain, at sunset. Eight songs, thirty minutes of musical beauty and delicacy.




If you liked this mixtape, I recommend to have a look to THE BEST FOLK OF 2019 and to follow the playlist THE INDIE FOLK RADAR.


THE BEST FOLK OF 2019 (Episode 1)

Since the beginning of 2019, we could enjoy a good number of valid and interesting folk music albums and we are already able to point out which are the best records of the year (up to now). The first episode of this chart refers to the first quarter of 2019 and it features five different albums spanning from indie to traditional Scottish folk. Enjoy this article and stay tuned for future updates!



#5) “Tomb”, by Angelo De Augustine

Indie Folk

Sometimes you meet with artists, or records, that manage to transmit you strong emotions independently from the specific music they play. Tomb, which is the latest LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, represents one of these cases. The LP is third of a discography which includes his self-released debut album, 2011’s Spirals of Silence, and his previous 2017’s LP named Swim Inside the Moon.

Tomb develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. There are two ways to cope whit that: we give up or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before.

Listening to the music of Angelo De Augustine is like enjoying the recitation of a poem, and in this sense his work is actually in between these two different forms of art.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with additional details on the record and also a few videos to see.



#4) “Those Who Roam”, by Claire Hastings

Traditional Scottish Folk

The biography of young Scottish folksinger and songwriter Claire Hastings says that despite already at primary school her teachers noticed how good was her voice, she didn’t pursue music until she arrived at the University. In a few years, however, she managed to compensate for all the time lost and, impressively, she was named “BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year” even before releasing her debut album (Between River and Railway). This year Hastings has released her second LP, named Those Who Roam, and we may enjoy once again the talent of one of the most promising figures of contemporary folk.

The element that stands out the most in this record is for sure the beautiful voice of the singer, while the musical part is not always at the same level. Those Who Roam is like a nice walk in a flowery park, under the sun. A sun that, however, still can’t make you feel warm, it’s only a slight sensation that you have on the skin.

Those Who Roam is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with more information and a couple of songs to enjoy.



#3) “Ode to a Friend” by Old Sea Brigade

INDIE FOLK


After releasing a number of intriguing and appreciated short publications, American singer-songwriter Ben Cramer, who plays under the moniker of Old Sea Brigade, eventually released his debut full-length record, named Ode to a Friend. Despite arriving after four previous EPs, the songs of the new album are all unpublished and the new material shows the capacity that has been developed by Cramer – in just a few years – in defining a style that is quite unique and personal, moving with ease among folk, Americana and ambient soundscapes.

Ode to a Friend is an album that’s absolutely poetic and fascinating, something which has the capacity to take us away from the chaos, but which also requires extremely quiet environments in order to be fully appreciated. And if most of the tracks of the LP are still built on Cramer’s finger-picked guitar and echo effects, for the first time we enjoy in his songs also a wider palette of sounds which includes notes from a distant piano or gentle layers of synths.

Ode to a Friend is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with videos and other information.



#2) “Le Ceneri di Heliodoro”, by Rome

DARK FOLK

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is the latest release from Luxembourg’s folk master Jérôme Reuter, who operates under the name of Rome. This is the most recent entry in a very large discography which features more than 10 LPs and many other EPs, all of them devoted to telling fascinating stories which interconnect ancient wars with the struggles of modern times.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is an album that manages to be at the same time profound, conceptual but still absolutely enjoyable to listen to. From a musical point of view, the album doesn’t deviate substantially from the dark folk that has been offered in all the previous releases from Reuter, with the exception of an increased presence – in the new album – of “martial” elements. The LP starts with a sequence of impressive and absolutely brilliant songs, gifted by some of the most beautiful melodies we heard in recent times.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with videos and other details.



Best Folk Album of 2019 (so far)

“Crushing”, by Julia Jacklin

INDIE FOLK / INDIE POP

Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer and songwriter based in Sydney, and she has released in late February 2019 her second LP, Crushing, which follows her 2016’s impressive debut studio album, Don’t Let the Kids Win. Similarly to what happened on the occasion of her first record, the first thing which impresses of Crushing is the remarkable emotional intensity of the songs. These are reflections and flashes made by the artist on her life and her past experiences, translated into music with a naturalness and a sense of urgency and immediacy that cannot leave us indifferent.

From a musical point of view, the songs of Crushing stay right on the border that separates indie pop from folk. The instrumentation, in particular, is that typical of folk music: the tracks develop mainly on Julia’s voice and guitar, with a simple rhythmic session made by repeated notes of bass and slow beats on the drums. Rarely we hear a piano. The simplicity of the arrangement, however, is compensated by warm and beautiful sounds of all the instruments, which in the end enhance the sense of intimacy of the tracks.

Crushing is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. The album was included in this blog’s Best New Music category and here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with more information and also a couple of singles to enjoy.



All the best indie folk songs that were released since the beginning of the year are collected in the Playlist called The INDIE FOLK Radar, which features all the artists included in this chart bat also other remarkable songs from artists like Sun Kil Moon, Meat Puppets, Mandoline Orange, and many others. Listen to it and follow it: the playlist is periodically updated with new tracks.


The INDIE FOLK Radar (Episode #2/2019)

One month has passed since the first episode of the The INDIE FOLK Radar and we have another group of interesting albums to review in this periodic digest with the most relevant Indie Folk releases. In the first episode I introduced the albums released by Old Sea Brigade, Angelo De Augustine, Better Oblivion Community Center, William Tyler and Mandolin Orange. For this second episode I’ve selected other five LPs, most of themreleased during the month of February 2019. Adding these five new records to the ones reviewed in the previous episode, it’s possible to say that the beginning of the year was absolutely positive for what concerns folk music.

As far as geography is concerned, we have one artist from Australia (Julia Jacklin), one from Luxembourg (Jérôme Reuter‘s Rome), one from England (Rosie Carney), and two from the U.S.A. (Jessica Pratt and Mark Kozelek‘s Sun Kil Moon).

Enjoy this new episode of the indie folk music radar and stay tuned for future updates!



“Crushing”, by Julia Jacklin


I want to start this digest with one of the best albums that were released since the beginning of the year: it’s Crushing, the second LP by Australian singer and songwriter Julia Jacklin.

When you start listening to this record, the first thing which will impress you is the remarkable emotional intensity of the songs. These are reflections and flashes made by the artist on her life and her past experiences, translated into music with a naturalness and a sense of urgency and immediacy that cannot leave us indifferent.

Musically speaking, the songs of Crushing stay right on the border that separates indie pop from folk, and in fact the LP has been featured in both the two categories of this blog. The instrumentation, in particular, is that typical of folk music: the tracks develop mainly on Julia’s voice and guitar, with a simple rhythmic session made by repeated notes of bass and slow beats on the drums.

The album was included in the exclusive SBG’s category of the Best New Music, and you can read from here the full review that I wrote about the LP.



“Le Ceneri di Heliodoro”, by Rome


Among the most interesting folk releases of this period we had the new album from Luxembourg’s folk master Jérôme Reuter, the artist who operates under the name of Rome. Le Ceneri di Heliodoro (“The ashes of Heliodoro”) is the most recent entry in a very large discography which features more than 10 LPs and many other EPs, all of them devoted to telling fascinating stories which interconnect ancient wars with the struggles of modern times.

From a musical point of view, Reuter’s production can be generally classified as dark folk, but beyond tags and definitions, what’s really impressive in the LP is the sequence of emotional and brilliant songs which open the album. For the lovers of folk music who are not familiar with the music of Rome, this is definitely a good opportunity to hear something different from what we’re used to listening, and to enjoy some of the most beautiful melodies that were written in recent times.

There is a dedicated article for this album, you can access it from here.



“Bare”, by Rosie Carney


I approached with great curiosity the debut album by Rosie Carney, a young singer-songwriter that is getting great attention as one of the most promising talents of the British folk scene. And effectively the songs of her first LP, named Bare, highlight a musical sensibility and also a maturity of style that have very little to do with an artist that has just left her teenage phase.

Almost all of the eleven songs of Bare have an extremely essential arrangement: acoustic guitar, vocals, a very light and almost imperceptible layer of keyboards and some rare appearance of delicate instruments such as the xylophone. Only in a few cases, we hear drums and electric guitar. Such kind of instrumentation has the effect to highlight the beauty of the artist’s voice, which is perhaps the central point of the whole album. More than the melodies, in fact, which are very simple and linear, it is the combination of Carney’s angelic voice and her intimate lyrics that capture the listener’s attention.

The tones are quiet and meditative, the rhythms slow. This guarantees a stylistic coherence for the whole record, but at the same time makes the listening experience a little flat, even because there are only a few melodies that emerge from the memory after the album ends. Remembering that Bare is a debut album, however, the final judgment is definitely positive and Rosie Carney remains one of those artists who are worthy of our attention.



“Quiet Signs”, by Jessica Pratt


Jessica Pratt is a singer-songwriter who has never chosen to chase success and fame through the simplest ways. Instead, she has developed through the years a very personal and delicate style of music that requires a special dedication, but which can provide the listener makes the experience of listening to her songs something really special and absolutely fascinating.

Quiet Signs, her third and most recent album, is a collection of pieces that are so fragile and intimate that they really need the right conditions to be appreciated in full, and to protect the beauty of the small details from the disorder and the background noise of our routines.

The style of Pratt’s songs is characterized by a strong retro feeling and also by the adoption of instrumentation and an arrangement that are really simple and minimal. This allows her particular and angelic voice to illuminate the scene, although the record, as a whole, may result excessively linear and at times flat.



“I Also Want to Die in New Orleans”, by Sun Kil Moon


Album after album, year after year, what’s offered within every new record released by Sun Kil Moon is gradually moving out from the domain of “music” and entering into that of prose. A song like I’m not laughing at you, which is one of the tracks of the band’s new LP I Also Want to Die in New Orleans, can be a good example of what I’m saying. The song begins with four initial chords on an out-of-tune guitar, and from that moment, if we exclude a few sparse moments of “music”, what we hear is just a single guitar string that’s picked with a syncopated rhythm, on top of which Mark Kozelek whispers and tells one his many stories. That’s all: one note, a few dissonant chords, and Kozelek’s voice. For almost 12 minutes.

Musically speaking, the new album by Sun Kil Moon is one of the most minimal and essential in the band’s discography. The attention is almost totally on the lyrics, with the sounds playing an absolutely secondary role. This style certainly has something fascinating, and there are also moments in which the faint and almost imperceptible musical lines manage to generate particular and relatively intriguing atmospheres. But for my personal tastes, we’ve gone a little too far.

And frankly speaking it’s a pity, because there was a moment, between 2012’s Among the Leaves 2017’s Common as Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood, in which I was really impressed by the charm and uniqueness of Sun Kil Moon’s style of folk.

I felt obliged to mention I Also Want to Die in New Orleans in this review of the most important releases of the last months. But in all honesty, this is not something that I think I’ll listen many more times in the future.



If you liked this article, you will love the folk music playlists that I’m curating on Spotify. One is MODERN SONGWRITERS, the playlist which features the most interesting releases from contemporary singer-songwriters. The second is named THE INDIE FOLK RADAR and it’s the one dedicated exclusively to the best songs of 2019. Enjoy!


Best New Music: “Crushing” by Julia Jacklin

Sometimes I find myself thinking about how many groups or artists try to reach the hearts of their fans with compulsively conceptual songs, or stylistic choices that want to be innovative, but that ultimately do nothing else than putting an unnecessary distance between the music and the listener. Then, all of a sudden, a young musician arrives, with just her voice and a guitar, and she sweeps away all these overcomplicated artefacts with the simplicity of beautiful songs that speaks directly to the heart.

Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer and songwriter based in Sydney, and she has released in late February 2019 her second LP, Crushing, which follows her 2016’s impressive debut studio album, Don’t Let the Kids Win. Similarly to what happened on the occasion of her first record, the first thing which impresses of Crushing is the remarkable emotional intensity of the songs. These are reflections and flashes made by the artist on her life and her past experiences, translated into music with a naturalness and a sense of urgency and immediacy that cannot leave us indifferent.

“Crushing” is the second LP by the Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin. The album was released on February 22nd, 2019, by Liberation Records.

When you listen Julia Jacklin’s new record, it really seems to be alongside an old friend of ours who decided, on a rainy day, to tell us about some of the strongest emotions she has experienced in the last few years, and she does it with passion, transport, and using a musical language that’s simple, as it is effective and confidential.

This album came from spending two years touring and being in a relationship, and feeling like I never had any space of my own. For a long time I felt like my head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B, and writing these songs was like rejoining the two.

Julia Jacklin, from her Facebook page
Julia Jacklin

From a musical point of view, the songs of Crushing stay right on the border that separates indie pop from folk. The instrumentation, in particular, is that typical of folk music: the tracks develop mainly on Julia’s voice and guitar, with a simple rhythmic session made by repeated notes of bass and slow beats on the drums. Rarely we hear a piano. The simplicity of the arrangement, however, is compensated by warm and beautiful sounds of all the instruments, which in the end enhance the sense of intimacy of the tracks.

As far as the style of the songs is concerned, Crushing alternates between poetical moments with meditative and confidential tones, and others where the rhythms rise (relatively) and the songs embrace a rock and roll feeling. The first category of songs is that one that impressed me the most, and which in my opinion makes this LP so beautiful and gorgeous. The opening song of the LP, Body, is perhaps one of the most expressive and engaging tracks I’ve heard in recent times. The song tells of the end of a relationhsip, and of how the destiny can have an impact on our lifes in the most unpredictable ways.

On the album-opening lead single “Body,” Jacklin proves the power of that approach, turning out a mesmerizing vocal performance even as she slips into the slightest murmur. A starkly composed portrait of a breakup, the song bears an often-bracing intimacy, a sense that you’re right in the room with Jacklin as she lays her heart out. And as Body wanders and drifts, Jacklin establishes Crushing as an album that exists entirely on its own time, a work that’s willfully unhurried.

Excerpt from Julia Jacklin’s Facebook page

Crushing is an album filled with emotions and played with passion and elegance. Julia Jacklin is improving her style and storytelling skills year after year. We can really expect the best from her future career.

I’m giving the LP an overall rating of 8/10. As I said, I was particularly impressed by the most intimate and delicate songs of the LP, which include the already mentioned Body, Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You, Convention, Turn Me Down, and Comfort.


Crushing is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.



Songs from Crushing are now featured in a number of different playlists among those I curate on Spotify, namely: CRESTS OF WAVES (the softer side of music), THE INDIE FOLK RADAR (the best of Indie Folk since the beginning of 2019), THE INDIE POP RADAR (the best of Indie Pop since the beginning of 2019), and MODERN SONGWRITERS. Check these out and follow the playlists, these are updated frequently with new songs.



ANGELS OF FOLK (a Mixtape with the most beautiful voices of Contemporary Folk)

Enjoy this precious selection of the best folk songs released in the last couple of years, featuring the most beautiful voices we could enjoy in recent times. Eleven songs, for 40 minutes of uninterrupted musical poetry.



The tracklist includes songs from Adrianne Lenker, Claire Hastings, Emilie Mover, Heater Taylor, Joan Baez, Karine Polwart, Marissa Nadler, Michelle Mandico, Olivia Chaney, Rosie Carney, and Sarah McQuaid.



If you liked the mixtape, you could also enjoy the playlist Modern Songwriters, which collects the latest and best songs from contemporary songwriters.


Quick Review: “Le Ceneri di Heliodoro” by Rome

There is a great album among those released in this first part of the year that I was in danger of missing: sometimes the most precious LPs are covered by the mass of mediocre publications.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is the latest release from Luxembourg’s folk master Jérôme Reuter, who operates under the name of Rome. This is the most recent entry in a very large discography which features more than 10 LPs and many other EPs, all of them devoted to telling fascinating stories which interconnect ancient wars with the struggles of modern times. Le Ceneri di Heliodoro (“The ashes of Heliodoro”), in particular, addressed the concept of a city under siege and it uses this dramatic scenario to speak about the uproar and the confusion which reigns in contemporary politics, with clear references to Europe’s dissolving unity, its relations to the US, and the fragile fraternity of its nations. Other secondary themes that emerge from the songs are those related to nationalism and utopia.


From a musical point of view, Rome’s new album doesn’t deviate substantially from the dark folk that has been offered in all the previous releases from Reuter, with the exception of an increased presence – in the new album – of “martial” elements. The LP starts with a sequence of impressive and absolutely brilliant songs, gifted by some of the most beautiful melodies we heard in recent times. As the LP proceeds towards its central and final parts, the overall tension begins to fade, and in the end what it’s kept in our memory is the majestic incipit of the album.

This city shall bring a purifying fire
For the world entire
And of all of our sin
Of its beauty and splendor
Now and forever
So now watch us try and reconcile salt and mind

(from “A New Unfolding”)

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is an album that manages to be at the same time profound, conceptual but still absolutely enjoyable to listen to. In addition to that, for those who’re not familiar with this folk project, the LP may be a good opportunity to hear something different from what we’re used to playing in our stereos. For who’s already a fans of Jérôme Reuter, Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is another valuable entry in an already remarkable discography.

My overall rating for the LP is 7.5/10. Highlights: A New Unfolding and Who Only Europe Know.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.


The INDIE FOLK Radar (Episode #1/2019)

Indie folk is an extremely heterogeneous genre of music that embraces many different styles and arrangements, but which in general gives a lot of satisfactions. And if we look at the number of good records that have been published only in the first weeks of the year, we can really have great expectations for 2019.

I’m presenting in this article a selection of five albums that were published in the period which spans from the beginning of the year and the first week of February. This is not of course an exhaustive list of everything taht was released so far; the albums that I’m introducing in the following, however, may be easily considered the most relevant of the period of interest.

Let’s start with the first record, and remember to visit the blog periodically for the future updates of the folk music radar.



“Ode to a Friend”, by Old Sea Brigade


After releasing a number of intriguing and appreciated short publications, American singer-songwriter Ben Cramer, who plays under the moniker of Old Sea Brigade, eventually released his debut full-lenght record, named Ode to a Friend. Despite arriving after four previous EPs, the songs of the new album are all unpublished and the new material shows the capacity that has been developed by Cramer – in just a few years – in defining a style that is quite unique and personal, moving with ease among folk, Americana and ambient soundscapes.

The music in Ode to a Friend is extremely delicate and introspective, and there is a persistent note of sadness that impregnates most of the songs (the record tells of a friend of the artist who committed suicide). The result is a collection of pieces that maybe don’t have the brilliance and fluidity to become memorable songs, but still have the capacity to make us think, and dream.

My review of the LP is available here.



“Tomb”, by Angelo De Augustine


Tomb is the new LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, the third of his career, and it’s value goes beyond the mere analysis of the musical aspect. The album, in fact, develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. When this happens, there are two ways to reacto: we give up, or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before. This message is carried out through simple sketches of melodies, which make Tomb a delicate but also fragile work.

You can read here my review of the album.



“Better Oblivion Community Center”, by Better Oblivion Community Center


In recent years we have witnessed many interesting cases of couples of artists who decided to join artistically and produce folk music, one of the most recent and succesful cases was that of Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, but there are many other examples. Among the newest duos that have been formed we have the one composed by American indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers and American singer-songwriter Conor Oberst. The two have started a collaboration under the name of Better Oblivion Community Center, and released a self-titled album in late January 2019.

The album is quite interesting especially for the fact that the style of music varies a lot from song to song: there are melodic acoustic ballads, reaatively experimental pieces with electronic inserts, intimate songs alongside rock-oriented tunes. The same characteristic, from another point of view, may be seen also as one of the limits of this work, which in the end doesn’t show a well-established and recognizable style. It’s as if the two artists haven’t yet got that musical alchemy for which the blending of the individual styles and backgrounds produces something new, and different from the simple sum of the two parts.

For sure there is so much potential in this duo. Ideally in their future works the music will be more homogeneous and original than today.



“Goes West”, by William Tyler


Among the less acclaimed but still interesting publications of the last few weeks I can certainly includethe new solo album by William Tyler, a talented guitarist who’s playing indie folk since he was very young. In 2010 he stared a solo career and since then he’s publishing LPs with impressive regularity: one new album every three years. The last one, named Goes West, offers a collection of gentle and easy listening instrumental tunes.

William Tyler’s style of music has definitely become softer when compared to his early albums, and the acoustic guitar today has almost completely replaced the electric one. Tyler’s melodies are extremely light and simple, and they somehow struggle to sustain 40 minutes of completely instrumental music. However, some of the songs of the LP are still catchy and enjoyable to listen to. The first track of the album, Alpine Star, is definitely one of the best of the record.



“Tides of a Teardrop”, by Mandolin Orange


Many times we get excited for complex, deep and articulated records, but there are moments when we need something simpler and more direct. These are the cases where albums like Tides of a Teardrop seem to be made on purpose.

The new album by American folk duo Mandolin Orange shines for the magical kind of beauty that’s generated by the combination of guitar with mandolin, which are the two main components of the band’s sound, on top of which the gentle voices of Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin tell of simple but intimate stories.

From a musical point of view, the songs of the LP move with ease among the typical styles of American traditional music, from appalachian folk to country, but always maintaning an appreciable delicacy of sound and an enjoyable lightness of the arrangements. In all the songs you can also feel how strong is the harmony reached by Marlin and Frantz, something which tells us of years and years of playing together, and sharing the same passion for folk music. The two artists play and sing as they were one, and this is the secret which allows the songs of Tides of a Teardrop to stay simple, but beautiful.



Enjoy the best indie folk songs that were released since the beginning of 2019 in the playlist The INDIE FOLK Radar:


Quick Review: “Tomb” by Angelo De Augustine

Sometimes you meet with artists, or records, that manage to transmit you strong emotions independently from the specific music they play. Tomb, which is the latest LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, represents one of these cases. The LP is third of a discography which includes his self-released debut album, 2011’s Spirals of Silence, and his previous 2017’s LP named Swim Inside the Moon.

Tomb develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. There are two ways to cope whit that: we give up or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before.

Throughout our lives we bury many dead things in our hearts and minds. There they go to rest and hopefully are reborn as something beautiful for the world to behold.

A. De Augustine, from his webpage

This album is, at its core, a prayer for hope and clarity, and a prayer for love

A. De Augustine, from Tomb’s Bandcamp page

It’s easy to guess that this subject is deeply related to the artist’s personal life. As he explains in his website, as a teenager De Augustine dreamed of being a professional soccer player and even reached the international circuit before being derailed by an injury that left him unable to play. Soon after, a friend of the family gifted him a guitar and his dedication to soccer was replaced with singing and songwriting.


Tomb reflects a beginning for Angelo — both emotionally and in his career. It’s a motion towards positivity, addressing lost love, the worthwhile cost of honesty, and the ramifications of regret. In the end, Tomb isn’t about burying or hiding something away, it’s about opening the seal and letting something new emerge. It’s about telling people how you feel when you feel it, instead of burying everything over the span of years. Like the best heartbreak albums, Tomb transforms inward pain into universal beauty. The songs have helped him to heal and now they can help those who hear them.

An excerpt from the album’s Bandcamp page

The songs of the album are built on simple, I would say “basic”, sketches of melodies, played by Augustine on the guitar or the piano, on top of which we have gentle layers of synths and his ethereal voice. Rarely, we hear some simple beats in the background. Such an essential arrangement certainly gives intimacy and lightness to the songs, but at the same time makes the music of the album extremely fragile. We really need to be in a condition of absolute tranquility, and silence, to enjoy the songs of Tomb. Otherwise, all the delicacy and the intimacy of this music are destined to succumb under the chaos that surrounds us.


Listening to the music of Angelo De Augustine is like enjoying the recitation of a poem, and in this sense his work is actually in between these two different forms of art. However, I’ve personally experienced how these lyrics tend to slip away into the background noise as I gave up some of my attention from the music.

Musically speaking, my overall rating for the LP is 6/10. But as I said at the beginning of the review, there are things that cannot be measured with numbers. And the universal message that’s carried by this work goes beyond a simple collection of short songs.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

My favorite songs are You Needed Love, I Needed You and the title track Tomb.

An alternate version of “You Needed Love, I Needed You”, played with Sufjan Stevens on the piano


Angelo De Augustine is featured in MODERN SONGWRITERS, the playlist I’m curating on Spotify with all the best and latest songs from contemporary songwriters.


Quick Review: “Weird” by Juliana Hatfield

American singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield has accumulated a huge number of different musical experiences throughout her intense career, and she has achieved a relevant reputation in many different genres of music: from the alt rock she used to play with the Blake Babies to the power pop of The Lemonheads, passing through the indie rock she did with Some Girls. Therefore, every new release from Hatfield brings with it a moderate curiosity about the style and the influences that we will find in the record. Last year I had some perplexity in front of her solo album “Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John (contrarily to the average reviews of the official critics): it seemed to me that the LP was lacking the capacity to communicate genuine emotions to those who were not familiar with the discography of the Aussie singer. This year Hatfield is back with a new LP called Weird, and I feel that the new album is definitely stronger and more effective than the previous one.

From a musical point of view, Weird oscillates between a sparkling and catchy rock and roll and a mainstream-oriented indie pop. It’s thus difficult to classify Hatfield’s new album into one single category: the style of her music today is truly the expression of an artist that has matured her own way to write and play, and she does it with extreme confidence. At the same time, it’s worth to remember that with her new LP Juliana Hatfield has now arrived at the seventeenth studio album of her career, and this number includes only her solo works. At every new release, she has the opportunity to take the best from all that she learned during such a valuable journey into music.


Sonically speaking, most of the tracks of Weird are built upon the basic combination of a clean electric guitar and Hatfield’s voice, with the rhytmic section that has the only role of keeping the pace of the song. The result is a sequence of melodic, cheerful and absolutely engaging ballads which still maintain an “indie” feeling.

One thing that I liked very much about the LP is that sense of freshness and immediacy of the songs. Weird seems to have been composed through a spontaneous and natural process, and we get the feeling that Hatfield experienced a moment of significant creative impulse when conceiving the record, as if the songs came out from her mind with relative ease. Despite the intimate and sometime pessimistic lyrics, the overall mood of the LP is substantially cheerful and positive, and you can enjoy its songs in many different moments of your day.


If I should give a rating to the album, I would go for a 7/10.

The album can be streamed on Spotify.

My favorite songs of the record are: Staying In (which is the opening track and maybe the strongest song of the LP), It’s so Weird, and Paid to Lie.



Juliana Hatfield’s song Staying In is now featured in CREST OF WAVES, “the Softer Side of Music”. Check it out and follow it, the playlist is continuously updated.



Quick Review: “Ode to a Friend” by Old Sea Brigade

After releasing a number of intriguing and appreciated short publications, American singer-songwriter Ben Cramer, who plays under the moniker of Old Sea Brigade, eventually released his debut full-lenght record, named Ode to a Friend. Despite arriving after four previous EPs, the songs of the new album are all unpublished and the new material shows the capacity that has been developed by Cramer – in just a few years – in defining a style that is quite unique and personal, moving with ease among folk, Americana and ambient soundscapes.

The music in Ode to a Friend is extremely delicate and introspective, and there is a persistent note of sadness that impregnates most of the songs (the record tells of a friend of the artist who committed suicide). The result is a collection of pieces that maybe don’t have the brilliance and fluidity to become memorable songs, but still have the capacity to make us think, and dream.

“Hope” is the lead single of Old Sea Brigade’s new LP.

From a musical point of view, Old Sea Brigade’s new album is characterized by a clear expansion of the sonic palette that has been used by Cramer to craft his songs. Many of the pieces are still built on Cramer’s finger-picked guitar and echo effects, but there are also a few other songs where we can enjoy notes from a distant piano or gentle layers of synths. Everything, however, is contained into a bubble of sound that never explodes. The music of this LP seems always controlled, at times ethereal or whispered. This makes Ode to a Friend an album that’s absolutely poetic and fascinating, something which has the capacity to take us away from the chaos, but which also requires extremely quiet environments in order to be fully appreciated.

A relative defect that I can express about this LP is related to the melodic aspect of the songs. The delicacy of the sounds and the dreamy atmospheres make the music of Ode to a Friend absolutely elegant and enjoyable to hear. In some of the songs, however, we miss a good and “catchy” melody to accompany the suggestive lyrics that are sung by Cramer, and the result is that at times the form seems to take over the substance. Fortunately this occurs only sporadically and there are many good songs that keep high the emotional impact of the record.

Ode to a Friend may be streamed from Spotify.

Highlights: Seen a Ghost, Cigarette and the lead single Hope.



Songs from Ode to a Friend are now featured in CRESTS OF WAVES and MODERN SONGWRITERS, which are two of the playlists that I’m curating on Spotufy. Enjoy!


MODERN POETS: The Best SONGWRITERS of 2018

I was not sure, at first, wheter to present an update of my selection of the best songwriters of 2018, or rather to wait until next month and publish the final “End of the Year List”. In the end I decided to go for the update, mainly because in the recent months there were a few very important releases, including Kurt Vile, Thomas Dybdahl and Michelle Mandico, and I thought it might be nice to see them together with the other artists that made this year so exciting.

You’ll find below an update of my personal selection of the best records by contemporary singer-songwriters. Compared to the previous episode, which appeared on last September, there are new entries and also some repositioning between some of the artists who were already included.

Enjoy this list and also the music that has been selected for each one of the selected artist. And stay tuned in view of the final chart, which will arrive approximately in one month from now.



#1) King Dude, “Music To Make War To”

King Dude is the stage name of composer, singer, musician and producer Thomas Jefferson Cowgill.

American songwriter Thomas Jefferson Cowgill is one of those artists who likes to move between extremely different forms of expression. In his brilliant musical career he now operates under the pseudonym of King Dude and with such new artistic identity he has already released a good number of excellent pubications. As a matter of fact, listening to King Dude’s discography one may think that’s it is practically impossible for him to publish low quality works and his latest record, Music to Make War To totally confirms this trajectory.

King Dude’s new album looks like as a perfect blend between The National and Nick Cave, in which however the melodic elements of the songs always prevail over the more introspective aspect of the music. As expected the album is deeply rooted on that melancholic tone which has become one of the most recognizable elements of King Dude’s music (what’s sometimes referred to as “dark folk” or “goth folk”), nevertheless melancholy is partially alleviated in Dude’s new album through a lightness of approach and also a research for musical simplicity which are at times totally disarming.

Arrived to the seventh record of his great discography, King Dude has succeded in the apparent impossible operation to make catchy and somehow “radio friendly” songs which still convey the emotional intensity and the darkness that we appreciated in his previous works.

“Velvet Rope”, taken from”Music to make war to” by King Dude
“Good and Bad”, featuring Josephine Olivia, taken from”Music to make war to” by King Dude


#2) Sarah McQuaid, “If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous”

Born in Madrid (to a Spanish father and an American mother), raised in Chicago and now living in rural England, Sarah McQuaid released in 1997 her debut solo album (“When Two Lovers Met”) and she has published in 2018 the fifth LP in her career of singer-songwriter, “If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous”.

Madrid-born, Chicago-raised and UK-based singer and songwriter Sarah McQuaid has explored in her valuable career many shades of folk and alt rock, and listening to her most recent works we can realize how profound and rich this journey has been. Sarah’s last and fifht release, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, is her more mature album so far, and the songs of the LP capture the artist in a phase of full confidence in her capacities.

In McQuaid’s new album, the artist meditates over challenging themes and evokes intimate and sometimes desolate atmospheres. Most of the songs of are characterized by dark tones and rarefied melodies, so don’t expect to find crystal-clear melodies and danceable but, rather, get ready for a melancholic journey where the happy ending is not always guaranteed.

The main feeling that emerges from If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous seems to be the serene acceptance of human nature and the fact that sometimes we have only a minor role before the regular and imperturbable cycle of life. This cosmic message is partly evoked by the artist’s voice and lyrics, and partly by the haunting, minimal and evocative music, which is the real added value of the album. We have a few ballads in the classic style of folk, with violins and acoustic guitars, but the peak of the emotions, in my opinion, is reached when the Sarah McQuaid sings accompanied by only the reverberation of her electric guitar, which arrives to you hears as an echo from distant worlds, like memories from your past that suddenly appear in a corner of your thoughts, leaving a feeling of conscious abandonment.

“The Tug Of The Moon”, the first single from Sarah McQuaid’s fifth solo album “If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous”
The title-track of Sarah McQuaid’s new album


#3) Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood, “With Animals”

Over the last years, American songwriter Mark Lanegan and English multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood have worked torgether on their previous joint LP “Black Pudding” as well as on Lanegan’s solo records “Blues Funeral” and “Gargoyle”.

The discography of American iconic singer-songritwer Mark Lanegan has become so full of different and heterogenous entries that there is a specific page on Wikipedia that is dedicated to report all of his releases and appearances, which include many solo albums, a bunch of EPs and a vastity of collaborations with other bands and musicians. As part of this large number of collaborations, in 2013 Lanegan released an interesting record with English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood. The album, called Black Pudding, received however mixed reactions from the public and the critics, partly due to the absolutely secondary role that was given to Gardwood, but also because Black Pudding, in the end, resulted as an extremely monochromatic and predictable album, with Lanegan anchored to his consolidated formula of dark and bluesy folk.

Five years after Black Pudding, Lanegan and Darkwood have released a second collaborative effort, named With Animals, and since the first couple of songs it’s clear that the harmony and the spiritual connection between the two has largely improved. For the casual listener this album could appear quite similar to the last few works by Lanegan, but this is not true if you go beyond the surface.

With Animals is a solid and inspired album, where all the songs are linked and correlated by a sort of spiritual connection, something which makes you feel like venturing into the darkest and most disturbing areas of your inner self. Darkness, restlessness, impotence. These are the feelings that emerge when you listen to With Animals, which don’t come only from the raspy voice of Lanegan, but this time also from a stronger contribution by Garwood and his hypnotic guitar loops. Garwood’s, in many moments of the album, reaches peaks of absolute beauty and in a few cases it even takes the lead over Lanegan’s voice.

If you’re not discouraged by the minimal arrangements, the slow rhythms and the dark and oppressive atmospheres, With Animals can become a valuable companion to your moments of reflection and relax.

The title-track from Lanegan and Garwood’s second LP “With Animals”
“Scarlett”, taken from Lanegan and Garwood’s second LP “With Animals”


#4) Michelle Mandico, “Ptarmigan”

Colorado native singer-songwriter Michelle Mandico released this year her debut full-length album, “Ptarmigan”, which is a colorful tribute to her crossing from the Rocky Mountains to Denver’s live music scene.

Michelle Mandico is a young singer-songwriter from Colorado, in the U.S., who released this year an impressive debut album, Ptarmingan, which not only showcases her remarkable musical sensitivity and expressive voice, but that enters immediately among the best indie folk releases of the year.

The release notes of Ptarmigan say that Michelle spent 2 years writing and recording her album, and from what we hear the result of such effort is evident. Without knowing the details of Mandico’s writing process, I presume that most of the work consisted in “lightening” the music by removing all the superfluous components and putting the melodies and her sublime voice at the centre of each song. Ptarmingan is in fact extremely delicate and soft, and the arrangements are made so as to leave in each song an area of apparent emptiness to be filled by the listener’s imagination. This is music that has the ability to relieve you from the thoughts and concerns of your day, whilst Mandico’s voice captures your heart.

Yes, the voice. I believe that there are skills and abilities that can be learned and improved with hard work. However, there are also innate talents that every person possesses as a gift. That of Michelle Mandico, in my opinion, is to enchant the listeners with her beautiful voice.

From a musical point of view, Ptarmingan follows a style of American folk that’s quite close to the classics of the genre. This is probably one aspect on which Michelle Mandico can now concentrate her efforts, trying to develop a more characteristic and unique sound. The musical performance is however flawless and it also benefits from the value of the musicians who collaborated to this project.

There is a new talent in the music scene, she is a songwriter gifted by an extraordinary and fascinating voice that we will follow con interest and curiosity in her next steps.

“1000 Feet”, taken from Michelle Mandico’s debut LP “Ptarmigan”
The title track of Michelle Mandico’s debut LP “Ptarmigan”


#5) First Aid Kit, “Ruins”

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg play under the name of First Aid Kit. They have released so far four albums, the last one, “Ruins”, published in the early months of 2018.

First Aid Kit, the Swedish folk duo consisting of the two Söderberg sisters, released in January 2018 a new album, Ruins, which enriches an already interesting and valid discography.  In ten years of career, the duo has in fact released to date four EPs and just as many LPs, reaching the very first positions of the Swedish charts and collecteing also many important awards at international level.

Ruins is particularly interesting record because it shows a clear desire of the two sisters to experiment with new styles and directions for their music, in particular as regards the increased presence of elements of country music. Even if they’re still relatively young (the older of the two, Johanna, hasn’t reached yet her thirty years) the two Söderber sisters have already demonstrated a remarkable musical maturity, and in this respect the songs of their latest album show a further improvement in terms of musical sensibility and songwriting skills.

“Rebel Heart”, taken from First Aid Kit’s new LP “Ruins”
“Fireworks”, taken from First Aid Kit’s new LP “Ruins”


#6) Thomas Dybdahl, “All These Things”

Thomas Dybdahl is a Norwegian singer-songwriter whose career started as the guitarist in the band Quadraphonics, but who eventually started a solo-career releasing to date 8 LPs

One year after the release of his appreciated album The Great Plains, Thomas Dybdahl is back with a new work called All These Things, which indicates that the artist must be experiencing a period of particular creativity.

An element that amazed me last year on the occasion of Dybdahl’s previous record, and which still surprises me as I listen to All These Things, is how Dybdahl’s music is so warm and soft, which is basically the opposite of what you would expect when thinking of the cold lands of Norway. The atmospheres that emanate from the songs of his new album are extremely relaxed and intimate, and the effect is further amplified by the absolute elegance of the arrangements. The persistent tranquility and warmth of the music allow the album to flow placidly and smoothly from the beginning to the end, but at the same time – at least for a distracted listener – it might also appear that All These Things doesn’t offer any burst of emotions, or any moment where the shallow calm is broken by a sudden wave of energy. In reality what happens is that most of the beauty of Dybdhal’s new work is hidden in the details of each song, as well as in the overall balance that has been achieved among the various components of the music. Therefore, it’s really difficult to appreciate the real value of the album with only a superficial listening.

In the best tradition of Dybdahl’s productions there are always a couple of songs in every album which stand out from the others, and this is confirmed also in his latest LP. However, both the style and the dominating atmospheres that we find in the songs of the album are extremely similar and, in the end, All These Things, taken as a whole, is definitely more uniform and homogeneous than Dybdahl’s previous records. This is partly due to the fact that the album was recorded in the course of only 3 days. As the author explained, it was a sort of reaction to the fact that his previous album was much more focused on the production and on the sonic aspect of the songs.

Another element of interest of the album is given by the fact that Dybdahl collaborated with a cast of talented artists, including American songwriter and producer Larry Klein, American composer and pianist Patrick Warren and American guitarist Dean Parks. And when you launch the album it really seems to be surrounded by an ensemble of excellent musicians, playing just for you, in a relaxed environment, creating precious and fragile fragments of melodies over delicate sequence of chords.

“What You Came For”, taken from Thomas Dybdahl’s new LP “All These Things”
The title-track of Thomas Dybdahl’s new LP “All These Things”


#7) Holly Miranda, “Mutual Horse”

Holly Miranda is an American singer-songwriter and musician. She has released to date five solo albums, and two LPs with The Jealous Girlfriends, a four-piece band based in Brooklyn.

There are only few things in music that are more beautiful than the magic that’s reached when creativity and authenticity are combined with the beauty of the melodies and the depth of the songs. This special combination of factors may be found in the songs of Holly Miranda‘s latest album, Mutual Horse.

Arrived at her fourth solo LP, the American singer-songwriter has definitely mastered the expressive abilities of her peculiar style and of her intriguing voice. The songs of her new record, in fact, range between different and sometimes contrasting atmospheres but all of them share the same fluency and enjoyability, two characteristics which make the experience of listening like an emotional journey along delicate, quiet and sometimes poignant atmospheres.

Maybe there isn’t any track with the credentials to become an “hit” but taken in its entirety this is probably one of the best LPs composed and recorded by Holly Miranda up to this point.

“Exquisite”, featuring Kyp Malone, a song taken from Holly Miranda’s new LP “Mutual Horse”
The song “All of the Way” from Holly Miranda’s new LP “Mutial Horse”, recorded live at Gibson Room.


#8) Kurt Vile, “Bottle It In”

Kurt Vile is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He is known for his solo work and as the former lead guitarist of rock band The War on Drugs

If someone should ask me whose artist I would be able to recognize after listening only to a few guitar chords, I would definitely say Kurt Vile. Few songwriters have in fact developed a style so easily identifiable as the American musician did in the ten years of his career. This characteristic certainly represents a positive aspect from the point of view of musical identity, but it also means that Kurt Wile’s records, at least at first impact, seem to be all the same. Clearly this is not the case, even because all the longterm fans of Kurt Wile (as I am) can easily appreciate that across his eight studio albums there are physiological highs and lows. In such a range of values, Bottle It In, which is Kurt Vile’s most recent effort, places approximately in the middle.

In one hand, in fact, the album indulges in melodies and harmonies that are at times so simple and essential to seem almost improvised, but on the other hand the songs played by Kurt Vile continue to provide us with little sketches of contemporary poetry, always nice and fascinating to hear.

And even if some of the songs may give us the idea that the album came out sooner than the right time, it remains always a pleasure to have something new from a talented and unique singer-songwriter like Kurt Vile.

“One Trick Ponies”, taken from Kurt Vile’s new LP “Bottle It In” 
“Bassackwards”, taken from Kurt Vile’s new LP “Bottle It In”


#9) L.A. Salami, “The City of Bootmakers”

English singer and songwriter Lookman Adekunle Salami, known professionally as L.A. Salami, has released so far three EPs and two albums.

I want to be honest: if L.A. Salami entered the list of the best songwriters of the year it’s mainly because of one specific song of his 2018’s LP The City of Bootmakers, a tune that’s stuck in my mind since the beginning of the year and which doesn’t want to go away. I’m talking of the song I Need Answers, which is probably one of the most beautiful modern ballads that I’ve heard this year and that highlights the multifaceted style of this young artist.

London singer and songwriter Lookman Adekunle Salami, best known as L.A. Salami, is one of those artists who manages to escape from easy labels. On the contrary, he’s one that demands to his listeners dedication and attention because of the complexity and charm of his music. Hovering constantly over the thin boundary which separates pop from folk, the tracks of his records seem to be written for a niche of listeners, and only sporadically the musical language of this artist manages to find a more immediate and easily understandable expression for the casual listener.

On L.A. Salami’s second album, The City of Bootmakers, the artist showcases a very unique blend of styles and inspirations, but he also addresses deep and challenging subjects, which are treated however with an uncommon class and profoundity. The musical part isn’t always up to the author’s ambitions, but in the most successful songs we may enjoy one of the most charming and stylish songwriters of his generation.

“I Need Answers”, taken from L.A. Salami’s new LP “The Cityof Bootmakers”
“The City Nowadays”, taken from L.A. Salami’s LP “The City of Bootmakers”


#10) Ellens Starski, “The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants”

American songwriter Ellen Starski began playing guitar at 19 years old. In 2008 she moved to Nashville, where she started her solo career with support of producer Anne McCue and a handful of the town’s top musicians.

Tennessee-based singer-songwriter Ellen Starski released in 2018 her solo debut album, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants, which collects the folk songs that she wrote over the course of the last 12 years. The album highlights the many influences that contributed to define her style of music: stripped-down and melodic folk ballads that are reminiscent of the the early works from Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, Patti Smith and to some extent also Paul Cohen.

A special mention is necessary for Ellens’ emotional voice, which is often the real added value of the album. Throughout the songs of the LP the artist sings of her homeland, she tells personal anedoctes or reflects upon the beauty of nature, with a style that is both an homage to the masters of the past and also a celebration of the magic of folk.

Taken as a whole, The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants features a very valuable and enjoyable collection of indie-folk songs, some of them particularly exciting, and we expect good things for her future, ideally with a style that will become, with the years, even more unique and particular.

“Daughter of the Sea”, taken from Ellen Starski’s debut LP “The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants”
“Missing you”, taken from Ellen Starski’s debut LP “The Days When Peonies Prayed for the Ants”



All the artists that were included in this chart, together with others that didn’t appear, are featured in the playlist MODERN SONGWRITERS. Listen to it and follow it, because it’s updated periodically with new songs.



Quick Review: “Bottle It In” by Kurt Vile

If someone should ask me whose artist I would be able to recognize after listening only to a few guitar chords, I would definitely say Kurt Vile. Few songwriters have in fact developed a style so easily identifiable as the American musician did in the ten years of his career. This characteristic certainly represents a positive aspect from the point of view of musical identity, but it also means that Kurt Wile’s records, at least at first impact, seem to be all the same. Clearly this is not the case, even because all the longterm fans of Kurt Wile (as I am) can easily appreciate that across his eight studio albums there are physiological highs and lows. In such a range of values, Bottle It In, which is Kurt Vile’s most recent effort, places approximately in the middle.

In one hand, in fact, the album indulges in melodies and harmonies that are at times so simple and essential to seem almost improvised, but on the other hand the songs played by Kurt Vile continue to provide us with little sketches of contemporary poetry, always nice and fascinating to hear.

 

 

It looks as Bottle It In came out sooner than the right time, and effectively some of the songs seem like flower buds which weren’t given the possibility to blossom and mature into the intimate and moving songs that we were used to enjoy. As a matter of fact, only one year ago we expressed in this blog a great appreciation for the collaborative album that Kurt Vile wrote and released together with Courtney Barnett. That record, when compared to Bottle It In , looks definitely richer in inspiration and more dynamic in terms of musicality.

Anyway, it remains always a pleasure to have something new from a talented and unique singer-songwriter like Kurt Vile. However, I would have preferred to wait a little longer if this could have allowed the songs to gain more substance and, for Kurt Vile, to expand further the borders of his well-established style of music.

Bottle It In can be streamed from Spotify.

Standout tracks: Bassackwards and Loading Zones.

 


 

Kurt Vile is contributing to Modern Songwriters, the playlist which collects the best contemporary songwriters and indie folk artists. Check it out!

 

 


 

Quick Review: “All These Things” by Thomas Dybdahl

Last year, in the pages of this blog, we talked about Thomas Dybdahl on the occasion of his album The Great Plains. At that time, the Norwegian singer-songwriter was already introduced as one of the most interesting representatives of the neo folk movement and his LP was appreciated mostly because of a couple of really exciting songs, such as the beautiful Like Bonnie & Clyde.

 

 

One year has passed and Thomas Dybdahl is back with a new work called All These Things, which indicates that the artist must be experiencing a period of particular creativity.

An element that amazed me last year on the occasion of Dybdahl’s previous record, and which still surprises me as I listen to All These Things, is how Dybdahl’s music is so warm and soft, which is basically the opposite of what you would expect when thinking of the cold lands of Norway. The atmospheres that emanate from the songs of his new album are extremely relaxed and intimate, and the effect is further amplified by the absolute elegance of the arrangements. The persistent tranquility and warmth of the music allow the album to flow placidly and smoothly from the beginning to the end, but at the same time – at least for a distracted listener – it might also appear that All These Things doesn’t offer any burst of emotions, or any moment where the shallow calm is broken by a sudden wave of energy. In reality what happens is that most of the beauty of Dybdhal’s new work is hidden in the details of each song, as well as in the overall balance that has been achieved among the various components of the music. Therefore, it’s really difficult to appreciate the real value of the album with only a superficial listening.

 

 

In the best tradition of Dybdahl’s productions there are always a couple of songs in every album which stand out from the others, and this is confirmed also in his latest LP. However, both the style and the dominating atmospheres that we find in the songs of the album are extremely similar and, in the end, All These Things, taken as a whole, is definitely more uniform and homogeneous than Dybdahl’s previous records. This is  partly due to the fact that the album was recorded in the course of only 3 days. As the author explained, it was a sort of reaction to the fact that his previous album was much more focused on the production and on the sonic aspect of the songs.

Another element of interest of the album is given by the fact that Dybdahl collaborated with a cast of talented artists, including American songwriter and producer  Larry Klein, American composer and pianist Patrick Warren and American guitarist Dean ParksAnd when you launch the album from your stereo it really seems to be surrounded by an ensemble of excellent musicians, playing just for you, in a relaxed environment, creating precious and fragile fragments of melodies over delicate sequence of chords.

 

 

All These Things can be streamed from Spotify, where you can also enjoy a very nice playlist created by Dybdahl himself which collects all of his best songs.

 

 

My highlights: What You Came For, Lifeline, The Longest Night and the title track All These Things.

 


 

If you enjoyed the music featured in this article you might have a look to MODERN SONGWRITERS, the playlist that I’m curating on Spotify with all the best and latest songs from contemporary artists.

 

 


 

Quick Review: “Wanderer” by Cat Power

In the last few years American singer-songwriter Charlyn Marie Marshall (known to the public as Cat Power) had to experience some complicated vicissitudes, including an harsh contrast with her record label, Matador, which was absolutely dissatisfied with the direction that the artist’s music was keeping. It’s not totally unexpected, therefore, that the new record from Cat Power, called Wanderer, is one of the most essential, minimal and poor of “special effects” of her entire discography, something which appears like a total rejection of what her previous producers wanted from her.

 

 

The experience that you experience listening to a record as Wanderer is basically that of a jump in the past, when the folk scene was full of singer-songwriters who painted small musical sketches with their guitar or piano, singing about the different experiences they lived while traveling along the roads of the United States of America.

What Cat Power offers today to her listeners is a timeless, austere and deeply intimate indie folk. Anyway, writing albums of this kind and evoking intense feelings from just a few chords of the guitar and a handful of rhymes, is not for everyone. The songs of Wanderer carry the weight of all the experiences and the strength of an author who has gone through different musical phases and who eventually recorded the album that she wanted to write, without thinking of what the public, and the producers, expected to listen. And where this stream of consciousness meets the beauty of gentle and delicate folk melodies, we can enjoy moments of pure ecstasy.

Wanderer is available for streaming on Spotify.

Highlights: In Your Face, Me Voy and Robbin Hood.

 


 

 

FOREVER AUTUMN – A Folk Mixtape by Guerino

 

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old, and darker days are drawing near,
The winter winds will be much colder, Now you’re not here.

I watch the birds fly south across the autumn sky and one by one they disappear,
I wish that I was flying with them, Now you’re not here.

Like the sun through the trees you came to love me,
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away…

Through autumn’s golden gown we used to kick our way, You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now, ‘Cause you’re not here

(“Forever Autumn“, originally composed by Jeff Wayne in 1969, subsequently recorded by Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass, and recently covered by Sarah McQuaid)

 

We have again entered that season of the year when the days become inexorably shorter, the warm air of the summer slowly turns into the colder winds of winter, and our spirit inevitably lingers in a sweet and bitter melancholy.  Driven by these feelings I collected and mixed together the most beautiful folk songs of the recent months, along with some other piece from the recent past, and made this compilation named “Forever Autumn“, which in my idea could be perfectly suited to accompany us in this beginning of the autumn season.

You’ll find here the most melancholic and emotional songs composed and recorded by artists like Sarah McQuaid, Blowzabella and Mark Lanegan.

 

Sarah McQuaid 1300
Born in Madrid (to a Spanish father and an American mother), raised in Chicago and now living in rural England, Sarah McQuaid released in 1997 her debut solo album (“When Two Lovers Met”) and she has published in 2018 the fifth LP in her career of singer-songwriter, “If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Blowzabella is an English band who play bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy and an array of acoustic instruments to produce a driving, drone-based sound influenced by British and European traditional dance music.

duke and lanegan 1300
American singer-songritwer Mark Lanegan and English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood have started in the recent years an interesting collaboration which produced already two LPs: 2013’s “Black Pudding” and the most recent “With Animals“, released in 2018.

 

The complete tracklist of the mixtape is the following:

  1. Shoreham River by Bird In The Belly
  2. Waltz by Kittel & Co
  3. Bedlam Boys by Solasta
  4. Bushes and Briars by Blowzabella
  5. Forever Autumn by Sarah McQuaid
  6. Tree in the Valley by Jack Rose
  7. Off To See The Hangman, Pt. II by Gwenifer Raymond
  8. Desert Song by Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood

 

As you can see, the compilation features mostly traditional folk songs and a few pieces of american primitivism (by Jack Rose and Gwenifer Raymond).

Enjoy the mixtape, and share it with your loved ones.