Emerging Folk – Naomi Wachira, Lake Nakoma, Jen Lush, Clare Siobhan

Naomi Wachira possesses an intoxicating tremble.  Her voice pulls at your vulnerabilities; it brings you to your knees.  She has the kind of voice that could heal a tortured soul, or a haunting legacy.  She offers that she draws inspiration from her African roots and personal experiences as a mother and immigrant. As a listener, her music brings spiritual comfort, not unlike the solace of worship or spiritual music, but adapted to a common narrative. 

On her new album Sometimes, I Worry, she conjures emotion from life’s most relatable experiences.  Her exclusive aura recalls classic folks first stars, musical enigmas with rare traits and ghostlike presence.  Folks first heroes were almost larger than life, as if they were dropped here just for a while before returning to their eternal haunting place.  

The Ep features some classic compositions, like There Is No One I Love More. We hear nostalgic movements akin to The Everly Brothers with some of the Gospel inspired adaptations that brought controversy to Ray Charles.  There are flashes of attitude and jive like on Sacred Love.  It adds some nice contrast to the collective work, but for us, we can simply melt into moments like the EP’s opener Something New.  With just a guitar and some harmony accompaniment, Naomi Wachira is perfect. 

Naomi Wachira is featured on our Emerging Folk Playlist.

After crossing paths at a 2018 party hosted by Fogg’s Alabama Shakes bandmate Zac Cockrell, Heath Fogg and Colin Woltmann agreed to team on a reimagining of some of Woltmann’s classic compositions.  They call the project Lake Nakoma, and it’s currently Alabama’s most buzzworthy indie export. Their self titled debut dropped earlier this month.  

An Alabama underground gem, Woltmann has the soft sentimental fury of Elliot Smith with some native compositional instincts.  Fogg adds energy and verified tube toned southern grit.  It’s heard on breakouts like New Skin.  That contrast is exciting.  

Fogg also injects some catchy uptick like on The Edge, with a nice dose of indie pop to match the alt country flavor.  Stylistically The Edge connects with classic releases by Wilco and Feist.  

Altogether the 9 song self titled debut features a batch of new tracks as well as two previously released singles, including their breakthrough Burying Old Bones.  The song is an elegant combination of their polar versions. For comparison, they bridge the gap between Darlingside and Explosions in the Sky, with a touch of alt country for context.  Burying Old Bones Initially presents as a slow indie folk reflection, the drama of the arrangement builds.  The final movement is epic, pulling you in with an uplifting guitar part that brings an influence of Post Rock.  The mix remains relatively tempered, but you get an idea of how this moment might explode in concert.  We find it exhilarating. 

Lake Nakoma is featured on our Emerging Folk Playlist.  

Jen Lush entranced us in the hypnotic melody of Lovers Parting, Dawn.  The lyrics present somber reflections on love and mortality.  Lush plots her poetry effectively, emphasizing the most impactful details, like when she repeats “Tombstone” with vibrato, as if to emphasize the gravity of the inevitable.  That conceptual flair adds to the songs cinematic journey.  

There are dreamy, almost psychedelic movements to the composition.  Like when the vibe evolves harmonious in the intoxicating chorus sections.  Like her existential spirit Lush doesn’t risk bored repetition, as the melody and arrangement changes with nuances that offer surprise and intrigue.  Stylistically, its as if Mazzy Starr produced Raising Sand.  Lush salutes an influence of alt country with her own dreamy alterations and illuminated mystique.  

Hear Lovers Parting, Dawn now on our Emerging Folk Playlist

Clare Siobhan has a gorgeous, almost smoky vocal delivery.  Her voice is rich in texture, and she controls it impressively.  That smoothness dresses her new single Flare with a silky sheen to contrast her peppy folk pop instincts.  She bridges the vibe between Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones with some recent indie pop compositional influence in the vein of Feist. 

A simple song at its essence, the tight band performance thrusts it forward, inspired by the magnetism that is Siobhan.  We hear an indie folk star in the making with the mainstream crossover appeal of Lizzie McAlpine. 

Hear Flare now on our Emerging Folk Playlist.  


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