NYC based songwriter Kevin Atwater recently released a new 6 song EP, Retriever. The calculated effort is an impressive collection of acoustic based material that displays an attention to detail, variation, and an appreciate for the instrument beyond its basic mechanism. Kevin is an underrated guitarist who can prolifically navigate a fretboard and accent notes using his strum/picking hand with accurate precision.
Retriever is all killer no filler, with every song bringing its own unique cinematic flavor. Atwater carves out 6 different musical worlds that all celebrate his queer experience in a refreshing overdue indie folk package. Music, especially folk music, has a way of getting to the heart of the matter in a way that poetry and fiction cannot. Atwater offers an understanding of the queer experience that is romantic, relatable, accessible, and pure. He is a modern trailblazer who deserves crossover appeal for his exceptional songwriting chops, and awards for how he gracefully embraces his truth through the power of his songs.
Atwater embraces the sad boy vibes of Elliot Smith, the melodic tension of acoustic Sufjan Stevens, and the storytelling of his influence Joni Mitchell. He colors his bare compositions with haunting melodies occasionally including an accompanying string instrument, but the eloquence of his weaving guitar work and introspective lyrics are always in the spotlight.
Kevin’s musical theater is lifted by his main gig as an actor and he has grown a nice following on Tik Tok. However he makes it happen, it should eventually lead to Retriever, a solid work from a bright young talent.
Hear a song about murder now on our Emerging Folk Playlist
Ysabel Bain teamed up with guitarist Scott Reynolds to bring her inspiring new single Harmonics to life. In conceptual grace Reynolds drips beautiful guitar harmonics throughout, showcasing the instrument in a rare light. That texture and touch recalls the guitar escapades of Rodrigo and Gabriella, with Ysabel adding her signature touch to bring that world into her lyrical folk stream.
Bain seeps with authenticity, it’s her calling card. It’s the same real magic that lifted artists like Tash Sultana and Lianna LaHavas to international stardom. What sets these artists apart is being able to get to the heart of the matter. Its one positive biproduct of a life of suffering. Their magic trick is that they know how to store it and use it like an ingredient in their musical stew, putting the pain of those experiences to song and exercising those demons with every revelatory performance.
Bain has plans to sacrifice a lot in the coming year, as she unravels a new project called The Grief Stories, a series of 5 EPS going through love, relationships, grief, and mental health in the Black community. Harmonics is the first release and a welcome preview on whats to come. The guitars are simply breathtaking, as real harmonics bring dreamy atmosphere and melody to the rich natural presence of these carefully recorded acoustics.
Hear Harmonics now on our Emerging Folk playlist.
On their new song Shadow, Hong Kong based psychedelic folk duo Carpe Diem capture the essence and mystique of the ancient Celtic songbook with some modern production and indie intellect. Traditional folk is at the root of Shadow, and the sanctity of the solo female vocal recalls praise songs of old, as ancient sirens would have recalled tragedies, celebrated their heroes, and immortalized cherished commoners of their history in patronizing song. Carpe Diem admits that all of their music reflects on the meaning of life, and there is no better platform than folk to get into the grain of our meaning in a simple eloquent musical message. Lyrically, Shadow encourages liberation from darkness. It’s a message about releasing the negative energy in your life so that you can enjoy our full potential.
“The magic spell casts a shadow, the power of darkness, Awful silence fills the soul, the hollow stranger. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light will do.”
A deep message like this one calls for minor chords and an emotive arrangement and Carpe Diem delivers. Like Charon crossing the river Styx, Carpe Diem recalls all that begets the underworld while the cinematic drama of the music swirls around them. The music breaks as you are immersed in the void of nothingness before being awoken by an unsuspecting electric guitar that wakes you like a revelation. Its easy to get lost in this singers dreamy affect, as her soothing lullaby touch is pleasant to the ears. Its ironic how something so beautiful delivers a painful warning about what’s to come, what we’ll devolve into if we continue to dwell in the darkness of our modern lives. Heed the warning in Shadow and bring the light back to your life. Hear Shadow now on our Emerging Folk playlist.
Josie Bello knows a thing or two about Resilience. When she sings “I wish you’d look beyond my gender, maybe then you’d see my strength,” she references a painful cultural truth that still exists today. Make no mistake, the fight for equality in regards to Women’s Rights is still very relevant and ongoing, often revealing itself in unfair wage practices. Josie Bello, a true Americana artist who blends folk, country, and rock, is just over face value assumptions period. She doesn’t want to be judged by anything on the surface, she believes in a deeper value that doesn’t discount anyone based on where they came from or how they look. This and more are the bedrock of her new album Resilience. Bello brings a little edge and anger to this familiar Americana package. She has the writing chops and the melodic awareness to match her message. With songs like “Coffee Shop Open Mic,” Bello reveals she is very much a part of the new community of folk. Open mics are about so much more than showcasing your talents, these communities are like families and they are significant purveyors of the craft. Some of them are too inclusive, but mostly they exist as safe spaces to showcase your artistry. Josie Bello wants you to close your eyes and connect with the song, look beyond your superficial premonition and let yourself absorb the natural essence music brings to our lives.
Josie sing from her soul, as her voice settles into everything she writes like she’s claiming her plot of land beneath the rumble of her band. Her rich tambre cuts through and carries over the music like an experienced pro who knows how to front a band. The accompanying musicians lift her works with impeccable musicianship and accurate execution. Fans of Lucinda Williams and Emmy Lou Harris will enjoy Bello’s Americana fueled angst.
Dig in to Resilience, now on our Emerging Folk playlist.