Emerging Folk – Randy Beth, Mats Dernand, Betty Reed, BREGN

NYC based singer songwriter Randy Beth ponders domestic futures on her sweet single make a home.  The artist avoids the lure of adding big production, instead opting for a rare bare arrangement of guitar, voice, and sparse backing vocals.  Her acoustic stylings are groovy, like a modern Tracy Chapman.  Her vocals are more Swift and sweet, with a hint of Country twang, and the pop sensibility of Maggie Rogers.  Overall it hits like the smoothest from Ani DiFranco’s catalog, the ones that make you think she might not be that mad after all. 

  Lyrically, make a home is an anthem for modern gay classic romantic in a straight world.  She wants traditional love knowing that in some places this affection is illegal.  Pleading to a doubtful lover, Beth is convincing in her desperation.  “A child just wants to feel safe, can we make a home?”   Randy knows we can do it, but some of our gay sisters still have premonitions.  Make a home is a lifeline, a call to dispel restriction and realize love’s full potential, as love can mean together, gay, forever, in our new enlightened future.  

  Enjoy make a home now on our Emerging Folk playlist.   

Mats Dernánd

Swedish multi instrumentalist and songwriter Mats Dernánd teamed up with another artist who we’ve featured twice, Luna Keller, on his new release We’ll Be Together. The upbeat song is dressed with layered instrumentation that spans the spectrum of indie folk and dream pop.  It’s as if Dernánd combined the anthemic acoustic pop of Coldplay and Ed Sheeran with the stomp and holler arrangements of Mumford and Sons.  We’ll Be Together is ripe with mainstream appeal, meant to lift a joyous celebration, it feels fit to soundtrack a celebration of family and love. 

Luna Keller (photo credit: Thomas Pelzer)

  The emphatic performances by both Dernánd and Keller explode with charm, as if you can hear them smiling.  It invites a fresh sense of community to the world of introverted bedroom pop.  The bells, banjos, strings, horns, and harmonicas have theatrical appeal.  With sharp execution and a stellar mix, you can imagine the magnitude of this performance, envisioning Dernánd and Keller at the front of this makeshift orchestra on a monstrous stage.  Hopefully they get the chance, until then enjoy We’ll Be Together now on our Emerging Folk Playlist.  

Betty Reed (photo credit: Taylor Napier)

Betty Reed is an inspiration for anyone coping with depression or dyslexia.  Where as so many might wallow in their condition, Reed pursues healing through songwriting, and in turn provides a soundtrack for the afflicted.  Reed has a treasure trove filled with upbeat indie pop hits in the bank.  Her 2021 EP Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned is front to back fire.  The Nashville by way of Boston songwriter possesses a solid mix of indie pop with a slight nod to country a la Kacey Musgraves.  Her new release features acoustic versions of the songs that make up the aforementioned EP.  Slight production touches of percussion and atmosphere appear only to support the bare arrangement of guitar and voice, as the acoustic renditions aim a spotlight on Reed’s proficient songwriting.  

  “It’s okay not to be okay” she reassures on her single Let It Out.  Lyrically, Betty lays bare her burden in song.  She displays incredible courage, admitting her vulnerabilities so that others can overcome their conditions.   Presented in this stripped down version, it recalls vibey acoustic works by Ryan Adams and Kathleen Edwards.  You can say, it hits different.  Reed is documenting the story of new America in the way that classic folk artists did for their generation in the early 60s.  Mental illness plagues a suffering generation raised in the vain poison of social media and reality TV.  It’s important to have these works, to document how they made it through, and to have these histories represented forever in their art.  

  Enjoy Let It Out now on our Emerging Folk Playlist.  

BREGN

BREGN shines on his hypnotic new single, Dreaming.  Nordic songwriter Jonnas Mikkelsen reimagined indie folk as BREGN in 2018 and has never looked back.  Dreaming is a tantric folk mantra drawing from instinctual tribal melodies.  Mikkelsen’s scratchy true voice is the ideal feature, ripe with dirty raw texture. It presents him as seasoned traveller, wise and worn from years on the road.  

  Brooding atmospheres lurk beneath his vintage acoustic, as his guitar recalls the warm textures of Nick Drake.  The bouncy alternating kick and hi hat bring indie folk sensibility, connecting with popular singles by The Head and The Heart and The Lumineers.  But BREGN is more introspective in his writing, a byproduct of abstract psychedelia and late 60s acoustic pop.  Claiming both The Beach Boys and The Beatles as influences, Dreaming could have just as easily been another cut on The White Album.  It possesses both intellect and originality, and has the eastern post India Beatles drip.  

  The artist admits that he wrote this tantric lullaby to soothe a friend dealing with nightmares.  We can all get lost to Dreaming, now on our Emerging Folk playlist

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