Emerging Folk – Drew Worthley, Jon Sandman, Dominic Romano, Romain Gutsy

Lullabies and nursery rhymes are a fitting concept for the new collaboration between Drew Worthley and No Spinoza. A rich collection of cinematic orchestral dream worlds, illustrious arrangements and scholarly musicianship define the impressive works that comprise their new album, Maxim.  Occasionally upbeat, like on The Grand Old Duke of York and Three Blind Mice, they flashe glimpses of Worthley’s familiar indie pop side.  Overall, though, it’s dreamy soundscapes like Hey Diddle Diddle and Jack & Gill that bear the greatest prize from this impressive partnership.  Both possessing an extensive compositional palette, their use of orchestral instrumentation exceeds most of their contemporaries.  With dreamy synths and pads they expand into modern sonic worlds, but in essence it’s an indie interpretation of large scale orchestral productions known to Brian Wilson and Phil Spector.  A similar ethos drives more modern indie genre-bending contemporary artists like Andrew Bird and Beirut.  Like them, Maxim is able to bring some of the more complex traits from Jazz and Classical into the pop world.  

  The aforementioned Hey Diddle Diddle is a great case study of how they can evolve familiar folk foundations of finger picked strings and transcend into cinematic instrumental dream worlds fit for an award winning soundtrack.  

  Worthley is no stranger to critical success, as his sophomore effort won praise as “One of the albums of the year” from Louder Than WarMaxim should follow suit, as fans of a more complex, intelligent design will adore its elegance. 

  Enjoy Hey Diddle Diddle now on our Emerging Folk playlist.  

Jon Sandman

Jon Sandman first caught our attention with his song Dear Friends.  We’re just as into his new single Maybe

Maybe is highlighted by a more omnipresent atmosphere of choral voices and ethereal pads, the chord arrangement is carried by a soft piano, played delicately.  A sweet lead electric guitar drips melodic voicings between lyrical movements.  Sandman knows a lot about sound design, having studied Acoustical Engineering at Southhampton University.  Maybe is another master-class in tone and spacing, as this picture perfect mix lifts the songs sonic appeal.  The vibe recalls indie shape-shifter Sufjan Stevens, with the laid back accurate vocal affect of Kings of Convenience.  The dense atmospheric underlayer, predominately featuring voices, connect with the dreamy soundscapes of Lord Huron.  The jagged yet conventional calculated drum pattern recalls indie icons the National and how Bryan Devendorf can tweak a familiar beat to make it more interesting.  

  Beneath the aura and sound design is a heartfelt song about an apprehensive romantic.  It’s that all too relatable story, about how painful patterns in our search for love often leave us too guarded.  If you’ve been hurt, you’ll always resort to suspicion when you find something good.  Jon worries that “if you’re not the one, you’re just playing a part.  I know it won’t last, that’s what’s making this hard.”  Jon suspects that this seductive lover who bears wanted gifts might only give them temporarily, the typecast characteristic of a serial dater.  “You whisper into my ear only words that I want to hear, the scope of your love is deceptively large.”  

  “I cannot trust this, haven’t had much luck in love,” he admits.  He tries to stay optimistic, as he suggests “maybe, just maybe, this is a good thing.”  

  There is truth in Sandman’s poetic wisdom.  Maybe unfolds like a novella of a hopeless romantic who maybe, just maybe, got it right this time.  Anyone can get lost in this vibe, but if you need a ‘go to’ song on your fresh flame introspective journey, you can take this with you as you ponder the complications of love.  

  Enjoy Maybe, now on our Emerging Folk playlist.  

Dominic Romano

“It’s been two days since I let you go, and a part of me has fallen away.”  Dominic Romano introduces a monumental transition on his new single Red Moon Night.  “And all I have is shredded as familiar is ripped away.”  A melancholy break up song with a hopeful music vibe, Dominic knows this moment signals growth.  The red moon, a figurative characteristic of this universes massive reality, and rare natural phenomenon that pulls our lives into perspective.  To honor this, Romano dresses Red Moon Night in melodic beauty, as a bouncing picking pattern dances beneath an emotive cello.  Enlisting fellow songwriter and musician Harley Eblen, together they craft an intoxicating arrangement with auditory cues to lift the songs emotional peaks.  

  Romano blends the prettiest features of Laurel Canyons classic songwriters and updates them with an indie sensibility.  His soft voice and calculated guitar recall mid career works by James Taylor, and when re-dressed with dreamy atmospheres and stabbing layered harmonies, relates to the awe-inspiring ingredients known to new folk pioneers Darlingside.  

  In dramatic fashion, the most impactful moments of Red Moon Night swell and dissipate, toying with the emotion of the moment as Romano implies Love’s emotional waves. A bit of musical theatre known to classical music, Red Moon Night is like a musical interpretation of a fleeting romance.  Romano references last night’s flurry of ecstasy which now curiously seems suddenly exhausted, as you quarrel with the painful revelation that it’s never coming back.  With his secret weapon of song, he can let a little of it last forever, and with the sonic support from Eblen, immortalize the revelations from Red Moon Night forever.  

  Enjoy Red Moon Night now on our Emerging Folk playlist.  

Romain Gutsy

Songwriter Romain Gutsy is sending a message with his new song If You see Her.  The French crooner has been kicking around the music biz for the last 20 some years.  After stints touring with the likes of Soul Asylum and Calvin Russel, he’s taking his shot at solo stardom, and If You See Her is his first official release.  A scratchy horn and fiddling banjo are the perfect companion for his road ragged vocal.  The smoky performance reeks with authenticity and truth.  It’s the same aura that immortalized masters like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.  Gutsy is able to take a simple, common sentiment and dress it in song.  The result is both clever and charming.  It’s undeniably French, as the band waltzes with jazz pop execution.  The charm is in the arrangement, but the beauty is in the vocals.  “Tell her I know I was a jerk.  If you see her, tell her I forgot everything but a tiny piece of love.”  

  Like a wandering troubadour lamenting lost love, Romain hopes to reclaim the one that got away, or at least bring some closure to their painful demise.  He’s a bit hung up and sad.  That’s okay, everyone needs a sad song for a somber event.  Mostly, it’s relatable.  The tragedy of a failed lover hoping to clear his name in one last desperate effort.  Gutsy’s voice quivers with all the hurt and trauma to make this message real.  He’s trying to get his message through, he’s got the song to prove it. 

  Enjoy If You See Her now on our Emerging folk playlist.  

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