Luke Fraser knows that Things Can Only Get Better. So much so that he wrote a song about it. He dressed it with vintage tones that shine with warm hues known to classic analog recorded rock. Inspired by Neil Young and his laurel canyon neighbors, it tweaks the folk rock serenity known to Harvest with an indie sensibility. Raw but modernly crisp, it recalls nostalgic offerings from Ray LaMontagne, Father John Misty and Dr Dog. There’s also evidence of The Band, I’m talking about Bob Dylan’s first electric backing band that went on to pen masterpieces like Music from the Big Pink. Fraser shares their affinity for soul and passion fueled performances.
Whatever happened to silly love songs? In the vein of classic rock, Things Can Only Get Better has a way of making love look remarkable. It navigates the delicate space between moving on and falling backing in. For most relationships, it’s a necessary trial. Commitment is hard and scary, a lot of us run away at the flames first dim, but some of us fuel the fire. Fraser aims to rekindle the spark, and so he wrote a song from the heart. A solid combination of vibe and melody, it’s a soulful feel good song without ever devolving into the world of pop.
Groove to Things Can Only Get Better now on our Emerging Folk Playlist
“It’s okay to say goodnight.”
Does it get more romantic than the world of math? The only truth in this world, you can always find security in its finite beauty. It’s no wonder Lizzy Dutton writes such pleasant, rare gems. A public school Math teacher by trade, she fell into her music in a flash of unexpected isolation. Lockdown turned into Amnesia, her new 6 song collection of clever indie rock arrangements and catchy melodies. The sharp designs and musical intellect will draw comparisons to recent indie icons of extraordinary artistry. A bevy of groups come to mind including Fleet Foxes, Wilco, Andrew Bird, Feist and Kathleen Edwards. Melancholy songs with cinematic appeal and enough of a groove to give you some swagger, her vibe intoxicates you with immersive affect. With strings and bent guitars she fleshes out jams like Living Archetype. She trends more indie pop on the unexpected When Summer Ends. She entrances you with the expressive picking of Lullaby, caressing you with her whispery delivery.
The execution on the instrumentation, most notably the strings, leap the typical expectation known to bedroom pop. Lizzy Dutton captures a candid vibe within impressive compositions. Masterfully calculated with an attention to every musical space, it recalls inspiring late career productions by The Beatles and Brian Wilson. Every player brings expressive feel and excitement to their performance. That’s the joy of making a record in the middle of a pandemic. It reminds you of the best times when you’re in a bad time. Front to back a solid release, and one of our favorite discoveries of the year.
Enjoy Lullaby now on our Emerging Folk Playlist
Immerse yourself in the story of Mona Lisa, the new single from Daulton Hopkins. An unsuspecting duet, singer Victoria Bigelow takes over the lead vocal coming out of the mid song break. Sonically diverse and musically beautiful, the artist injects tonal variation into every musical moment. The expressive guitars shimmer with subtle effects. The crack of the strings as the rosewood bends beneath the players measured grip is left naked, creating a percussive in the moment authenticity. The bass beneath creates dense atmospheric layers as the picked guitars mold into the deep with washing undertones. The whispery, almost falsetto deliver of Daulton’s vocal entrance is ripe with emotional affect. A hint of overconfident desperation resolves to underwhelming, as Daulton’s admiration loses shine. Victoria provides the alternative perspective, discounting the rumors of her perfection as trivial, she scolds her admirers selfish expectations.
With expressive strings and a dynamic arrangement, Mona Lisa is as much a vibe as it is a superb composition. Daulton is a buzz worthy producer. He hits all the marks. He brings variation and surprise to elegant catchy melodies, and the performances are exceptional. Finding his way onto several editorial playlists, he’s been rightfully receiving some envious recognition. The intellect and honesty of Mona Lisa paired with these sad indie folk vibes connect with releases by Sufjan Stevens and recent Big Thief. There’s also a hint of Kurt Vile in the tonal design and picking of the guitar work.
A superb release, dig in to Mona Lisa no on our Emerging Folk Playlist
Groove out to Last Year, the new single from Seattle based songwriter Ella Ruby. Full of swagger and attitude, Ruby’s lyrical cadence drifts between indie pop and 60s soul revival. Its an interesting intersection between the cool affect of Lou Reed and the Neo soul of Amy Winehouse. Delivered with a soft whispery timbre in the spirit of Norah Jones, it nestles beautifully within the bed of Last Year’s dense layered arrangement. Keeping it organic, lively strings and strummed guitars flow above a grooving drum, all glued together by the omniscient presence of a moving shaker.
The sexy queer folk writer pens a sex dream classic. She’s not afraid to admit her direct intention. The sultry exotic lyrical details dressed in this indie folk package conjure similarities to Rhye. As a collective work, Last Year is like a soft thunder. It compels you to groove to its catchy tempo while soothing you with its mezzo presentation. Lifted by an impressive orchestral arrangement, it accentuates Ruby’s triple threat as songwriter, producer, and performer. Ruby is intoxicating while avoiding the temptation of over embellishing reverb and effects. With magnificent musicianship Last Year is presented clean, crisp, and true to form. The execution is masterful.
Dream on to Last Year now on our Emerging Folk Playlist.