Emerging Folk – JJ Smith, Jade Stanger, Chris Considine, Joe Wilkinson

JJ Smith is rare exotic on his new EP 28 Club.  The free flow and instinctual nature of his guitar playing suits his expressive vocal style. On the introductory Still, this stylistic ethos is combined with dark melodious orchestration that goes beyond the typical atmosphere, as it is more thoughtful and provocative than a basic string underlayer.  The opening track is an honest collective impression, serving as a sample of Smith’s signature style.  The powerful track flows into the cinematic guitar instrumental Splint, as Smith embellishes his impressive guitar playing.  Seeing beyond the chords, he employs melodic voicings that suggest classical tutelage. 

Every Time sees JJ back to trademark form, as his dynamic vocal is his defining trait.  Initially it conjures memories of Jeff Buckley with its exotic swings and emotional pull.  On the sequential Doorbell, there’s also evidence of Nick Drake and Robin Pecknold as a serene folky mellow vibe breaks through.  Smith also shares Drakes penchant for orchestrated production.  

The EP concludes with the progressive Should?  Smith introduces live drums and distorted guitars.  Paired with a full band and featuring a soulful bluesy guitar solo, it recalls selections from Pink Floyd and melodic cues from Alice and Chains.  

A rich collection ripe with style, 28 Club commits to a style while still showing many shades of Smith’s palette.  Though it initially conveys a dark aura known to indie folk, it suggests JJ Smith has classic sensibilities, with limited constraint to his artistic exploration. 

Dig into Doorbell now on our Emerging Folk Playlist 

Jade Stanger

Jade Stanger wanders into the world of bedroom pop with her new single The Stranger That Wasn’t Bad.  The intricate arrangement with soft horns and dynamic percussion draws comparisons to Beirut and Feist.  The writing is slightly poppy, with a semblance of punks melodic ethos in the songs chord progression.  The affect is equal parts dreamy and charming in the vein of classic cuts by The Cure.  

Lyrically Stanger pens an abstract, heartfelt homage to her soon to be wife.  She pairs the sentimental lyrics with a jovial performance, as if you can hear her smiling.  Stanger navigates that perplexing happenstance when love arrives unexpectedly.  Ironically Love has a way of showing up once you’ve given up on it.  “Imagine living life without hope, when you’re standing paralyzed, until the sunrise somehow changed into something more worthwhile.  Now intoxicated, delighted by something greater than before.  She was the stranger that wasn’t bad…”

A damn good love song in its own right, it also offers a proper love story for the LGBTQ community.  Stanger originally wrote the song acoustically and then enlisted producer Olly Shelton.  Together they crafted a cinematic soundscape that honors the serenity and complexities of her treasured love. 

  Enjoy The Stranger That Wasn’t Bad now on our Emerging Folk Playlist.  

Chris Considine

On his new single Dream Away, Chris Considine is able to navigate between a candid in the moment vocal delivery and a melodic swoon.  By pairing his transformative talents with thoughtful storytelling he emulates classic songwriters like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne.  Considine brings an additional indie folk sensibility known to the Lumineers and The Head and The Heart.  But he’s a little more Springsteen in the way he weaves his musical poetry.  There’s more unexpected melodic tweaks and bare honesty.  Considine tells his own story, with the music there to serve how he captured the feeling.  We’ve heard it before on his impressive Force Of Nature.  On Dream Away he laments,

  “So I shipped off to college, 

dropped out and got a nine to five. 

never felt quite alive after that, 

but I thought ‘it’s just a matter of time’”

  Considine is able to reference a classic sound while still sounding new and inspired.  It’s heard at 2:13 when lush harmonies conjure The Beach Boys as they sing “You’re just a dream away.”  The sentiment prevails throughout his catalog.  A classic heart with an indie soul,  he’s building up a catalog that competes with the best in indie.  

 Enjoy Dream Away now on our Emerging Folk Playlist 

Joe Wilkinson

Joe Wilkinson own the moment with his new single Let Me Know.  In 2022 the music industry demands pedal to the medal, one step back could mean you’ve taken your last step forward.  Let Me Know is more captivating than past releases, and it embraces an elegant medium where Wilkinson can remain in the indie spectrum while still digging deep into some jammy guitar work.  He offers a combination of Mayer and Sheeran as a range of the songs stylistic ethos.  We also heard similarities known to upbeat selections from Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews.  

Let Me Know definitely has mainstream appeal.  It’s delivered easy, and the sweet soulful guitar leads are tasteful.  The guitarist has a nice touch.  He knows how to draw feeling from the strings, it’s the difference between someone who can hit the notes and someone who really knows how bring the instrument to life. 

It makes sense that he cites Mayer as an inspiration.  Wilkinson shares Mayer’s crossover potential.  With catchy crafty songwriting and solid vocals he could draw in a larger audience, but its the guitar work that’s going to win him fans on the festival circuit.  

Enjoy Let Me Know now on our Emerging Folk Playlist 


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