Santa Cruz based indie artist Eema Naomi’s music revolves like petroglyphs from the past of that haunted place. In the summer, bustling with tourism, but in the winter, Santa Cruz is eerily desolate as walking caractertures of lost souls scurry through the side streets and walk ways in town. Naomi is the folk hero of this moment, a snapshot of that feeling in the off-season, those 9 months of the year where shore town folks are just hanging on, trying to keep the drugs at bay, fighting the allure of that daunting statistic. On This Too Shall Pass, you can feel that moment, hanging on for dear life, waiting for the crowds and the sun to return.
They’ll tell you they hate the tourists, but there’s medicine in that distraction. The waiting, though, is the hardest part. Naomi brings a new soundtrack to the California vision, this is the central Cali blues, where the divinity of this illustrious place can feel heavy. Eema has winter’s soul of this place. She is tapped into its wild roots, she respects its grace and how it has allowed her to persist among her hills, forests, and coastlines. Where a fire, earthquake, or drought could compromise it all in a minute, Eema holds on to this fleeting moment. All is temporary and nothing lasts forever, good or bad it will be gone in time, that is the aura of her reflection.
Eema’s voice is weathered and rich like the sands of her coasts. Her smoky delivery breathes fire and wisdom into her song. She knows these truths are hard to come by, as she gently explains “Who knows when things will turn around, who knows when they had to come to pass. Though we know these things they cannot last.”
The sliding guitar is like a place-marker, an ode to Laurel Canyon and the Western Coast sound. Eema boosts the atmosphere with eery under layers and lurking violins. The result is a contemplative indie folk dreamscape that gets in your bones. Fans of Emmy Lou Harris and Brandi Carlisle will relish in these dark cinematic folk motifs.
Enjoy This Too Shall Pass now on our Emerging Folk playlist
Svavar Knútur is a humble Icelandic artist with massive potential. In his press release he lightly downplays the significance of his memo, but Svavar absolutely deserves your attention. On his new single November, he shows the breadth and scale of his talent. Svavar is careful not to show all of his cards, he understands that his complex worlds are not easily connected. Therefore this song exists in two parts. The first half is vintage folk a la Simon and Garfunkel, and the second half is interesting indie art pop a la Juniper. He settles into both so easily, an old soul in modern times. The contrast reflects his appreciation for musical connections. He is an apt collaborator, and recently participated in the Global Music Match initiative. Through the initiative he linked with artists in the UK, Canada, and Australia.
November is included on AHOY! Side B. Side A was released in 2017, and together the two sides are a double album recording project with singles being released in tandem.
The songs transition is also an ode to the month it represents. November marks a pivotal change in season, and for this Icelander the polars of Summer and Winter are daunting. Southerners will never accept or understand the Northerner’s experience. Every year is a cycle between two worlds, with massive changes to your psyche. Northerners have an elevated awareness of the elements and their powers. It breeds humility in everyone who exists beneath it. Out of this, the gift of true art free from superficiality has earned Iceland a reputation for imaginative creativity. With November, Svavar apply’s to the ranks of an esteemed musical culture in popular music. He belongs in that conversation, he is that good. Fans of Jose Gonzalez, Bon Iver, and Fleet Foxes will enjoy the melodic and progressive nature of his music. We know those are some heavyweight indie folk name drops, so you should be careful to give this one a complete spin. Hear November now on our Emerging Folk playlist.
Alfredo is an Italian born, South American rooted storyteller who currently resides in London and releases music with his project Colourshop. His jazzy folk grooves and soft vocal cues are reminiscent of Kings of Convenience, with subtle cues from the nylon guitar standards of Brazilian song master Jobim. You could imagine this folk troubadour traveling between countryside cafes, serenading you between siestas and sips of espresso. Alfredo admits, its not the destination, but the journey that entices him. He speaks this sentiment through his music, which feels light and free. These blissful summery campfire vibes would sit nice between the stars after a long day in the surf.
All of this is felt with clarity on his new single Northern Lights.
Alfredo has a penchant for poetry that suits the inquisitive traveler. He weaves together optimistic projections of the journey ahead, and you can feel his excitement for the unknown. His voice has conviction, and on Northern Lights he brings genuine feeling to a soft moment. As a careful traveler, he admits, “The road is not an animal I know, but that is what is called discovery.”
The beauty of Colourshop is that it embodies that realization and awareness that can only be projected by a true traveler, and is revered by the rest who haven’t really strayed from their nests. Alfredo can only transmit these vibes having traversed these roads, and he bottled up that experience in a graceful folk passage that is pleasant and intoxicating.
Enjoy Northern Lights now on our Emerging Folk playlist.
Matt Sexton burst onto the scene in 2015 when Google featured his song Seabird on their homepage. It’s the kind of exposures that indie’s dream of, and it brought Matt a quick wave of attention after years of hoping for a big break. Though Seabird is an instrumental, it feels contemplative and aware of the sanctity of our planet, and Sexton brings that awareness and focus to his new song Animal.
Animal is Sexton’s tribute to the trials of winter. Like a reaper the cold dark days can pull you into the throes of depression. Sexton knows he he has to face it. “I am just an animal who cannot hide away.”
Sexton envy’s the summer birds who fly south for winter. Like native animals, he feels trapped in his place, unable to escape the cage of his formalities. Work, responsibility, and convention. Like a purposeful songwriter trapped in the troves of society, Sexton has the accolades and history to make a go of it, but the path just resolves in circles, and another winter is here to curse him.
Animal is sad and somber and might break your heart. Sexton sounds a little broke, having come up and down and round again. Often being so talented and prolific can feel burdensome, the trials of the industry hang heavy, and Sexton owns all of that weight and more on his honest Animal. A patient piano and female vocal highlight this cold winter anthem. Fans of Elliot Smith and Daniel Johnston will connect with the sad friend vibes, but everyone can enjoy this melody. Animal is a well crafted tune from a masterful writer.
Hear Animal now on our Emerging Folk playlist