SINGLES BAR 64 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Formerly Evan Petruzzi and now just EVVAN, the New York-based singer-songwriter self-releases her Home EP, a five track collection of self-discovery and self-acceptance that kicks off with her defiant perhaps slightly Fleetwood Mac-tinged coming out number ‘I’m Not Done Yet’. The title track is a more restrained affair with ticking and descending guitar notes about taking time to being the moment and take stock of the little things in life, ‘Hurricane’ a rocker, drum-led track that again conjures Stevie Nicks as it offers a metaphor for a tumultuous relationship.​

The first song written for the project, given a suitably tribal drum rhythm ‘Wolf’ again draws on metaphor about confronting your inner wolf and deciding whether to run with the pack or be yourself while the final number, ‘Falling Over You’, is a slow building moody piano ballad that climaxes on a dramatic surge of emotion.

Joined by two longstanding members of his band, Spencer Cozens and Alan Thomson, East Yorkshire’s KATIE SPENCER pays tribute to the late John Martyn with her Hurt In Your Heart EP, featuring her live recording interpretations of three of his songs. First up, sparsely arranged for piano and drone, the title track stems from 1980’s Grace and Danger, followed with gentle fingerpicked and piano accompanied sway through ‘Couldn’t Love You More’, originally featured on 1997’s One World in 1977 (and subsequently re-recorded in an uninspired version for the unsanctioned 1992 titular release). The final number also stems from One World, ‘Small Hours’ reimagined – at nearly half the running time to retain just the opening evocation of the early morning mists.

SUTHERING is the new name for the Devon-based duo formerly known Julu & Heg, making their new nomenclature debut with the waltzing ‘Gather’ (Bessie Records BR002). Recorded with and featuring Lukas Drinkwater, their trademark interwoven harmonies backed with plaintive piano ripples, it journeys through the year, its eyes always on the promise of a new dawn. A taster from an upcoming album, they chose the new name from a line in John Clare’s poem The Autumn Wind, the word meaning the noise of the wind moving through the leaves, or under a bird’s wings, and here symbolising the balance and flow of nature. The EP also features the self-penned gentle, woodwind-coloured ‘A Place We Know’ and an unaccompanied reading of the traditional ‘Ten Thousand Miles’.

Californian JADE JACKSON is apparently goth country, which isn’t exactly a description that comes to mind listening to her new single ‘6ft Changes’ (Anti), the first from her upcoming album. A softly sung, mid-tempo number about the loss of human interaction during the pandemic as she sings “Dancing with strangers and holding up beers/tapping on shoulders and whispering in ears/was taken for granted all these years”. It’s all very lovely, but we may have to revamp our definition of goth.

‘Sweetness & Pain’ (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASDS2104), the latest download single from her St Buryan Sessions, finds SARAH MCQUAID in sparse a cappella traditional folk mode, the song, which likens the fruit and the thorns of brambles to the experience of love and how the pain will eventually pass, originally appearing as three separate snippets on 2015’s Walking Into White but now appearing in full.

IAN GEORGE from Minneapolis looks to the future with a new single ‘Post Corona*’. It’s really about all the things we’ve learned not to do (or do) over the last year or so: “I’ll never wear sweat-pants again, Post Corona” he declares but also vows to leave the city behind. A catchy song decorated with some really nice guitar.

Based in the North West, ROSE PRICE & MARTIN MEDINA, self-release  the spooked musical box-like acoustic folk ‘The Mistletoe Bride’ as a precursor to an EP, their ghost story  retelling of a traditional folk tale and about a young bride playing a game of hide-and-seek during her wedding breakfast, who hides in a chest in an attic and, unable to escape, suffocates, her wedding-dress skeleton being found many years later, their modernised version told from the female perspective and inspired by a short story by the novelist Kate Mosse.

JOE WILKES releases a new up-tempo version of ‘Hares On The Mountain’ told from a largely female perspective. It’s one of those songs full of floating verses that you can do just about anything with and Joe treats it to a nice acoustic guitar and flute accompaniment.

Improvisers par excellence Adam Summerhayes and Murray Grainger, aka THE CIDERHOUSE REBELLION have a new single ‘The Whitby Rose’, named for a boat owned by Adam’s grandfather. Initially released as part of the YouTube InCider Sessions, it’s a tune of two halves – first a slow, rather melancholy air and then an up-tempo section that evokes the sometimes choppy waters off the North Yorkshire coast.

Glasgow-based four piece GNOSS are joined by Braebach’s James Lindsay on double bass for ‘Cold Clay’ (Blackfly), the first taste of their upcoming new album, an up-tempo number which, featuring Connor Sinclair on whistle, is all about feelings of frustration, using the simile of digging for diamonds and hitting just mud.

And by way of a similar earthy title, sounding not unlike fellow West Country man Reg Meuross, Exeter-based singer-songwriter BEN MORGAN-BROWN heralds his new introspective vocals and acoustic guitar album with the rather lovely title track ‘Chalk & Clay’ (HEMP003), an autobiographical song about growing up in a Bedfordshire village between Luton and the Dunstable Downs and “drunken nights, riding motorbikes, mirrors smashed/Forest fires, pulling out the wires, phone booth pranks/Stockwell Park, times in the dark with Tara Jayne”.

O’NEILL & JONES, Sophie and Mat, have just released their second single, ‘Broken Shoes’. It’s a catchy, up-tempo song featuring a sparkling arrangement, wonderfully sweet harmonies and a rather fine acoustic guitar break. There’s a lot happening in its two-and-a-quarter minutes.

The artist formerly known as Oh Susanna will henceforth revert to her real name of SUZIE UNGERLEIDER, partly having   decided that her previous moniker carried unfortunate minstrelsy associations in these woke times and partly because she now feels more confident in being herself rather than hiding behind a persona. As such, now based back in Vancouver, she’s releasing rebirth album My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider later in the year, trailed by the single ‘Baby Blues’ (MVKA/ADA), a slow paced, strings and snare drums number about how the traumatic events we witness when we’re young can haunt and shape our older selves. The name may have changed, but the music remains as haunting and evocative as ever.

BEN REEL releases a new single, ‘Safe And Sound’, to celebrate the first anniversary of his album The Nashville Calling. It’s a dark song, powerful and mysterious, and is paired with the rather more danceable country-blues of ‘New Jerusalem’ – perhaps a better choice for the A-side?

Having paved the way with an accomplished and well-received EP and single, KATHERINE PRIDDY will be making her album debut in June. To whet anticipation further, she’s released the first single from it, the dreamily swaying fingerpicked, caressingly sung pastoral folk of ‘Indigo’ (Navigator). A long time staple of her live set, with its slow, steady drum beat and swooning strings, it reinforces her ability to wave beguiling narratives, here addressing our relationship with nature in a story about a young child and a tree that unfolds to speak of loss, of innocence, friends, lovers and, perhaps, the eco-system as we grow older.

IONA FYFE has a new single, ‘Scotland Yet’. The song, written and originally performed by the late Davy Steele, is a thinly-veiled call for Scottish independence. It’s definitely coming back into favour, having also been recorded recently by Hannah Rarity. Whatever your views on the politics it’s a damn good song given a powerful treatment by Iona.

Confusingly, ELGIN (Anthony Furey and Paul Butler, formerly of The Young Folk) are a duo from Dublin who release their new single, ‘Oh Love’, in advance of their forthcoming album Weightless / Still. They both have famous forebears in Irish music but as they say “we’re not young and we’re not folk”, hence the new name and new direction. The song, written by Paul, opens with what sounds like a gentle synth drone heralding dramatic piano and concerns having no religious beliefs in an intensely religious country. What is there to say and do in the face of death?

MICHAEL RANDLE is a veteran of several bands and styles who has now gone solo and built his own studio. ‘Black Eyeliner’ is the first single from his upcoming album, A Time For Stargazers. Michael cites a good many influences and it’s fair to say that this song is more Bruce Springsteen than Nick Drake but it’s something of a grower.

Irish songwriting duo SEAFOAM GREEEN (Dave O’Grady and Muireann McDermott Long) roar back with a new single ‘House On The Hill’. It’s a mighty stomper that just about waves to folk music as it passes by. It presages a new album, Martin’s Garden and if your thing is noisy Americana you’ll really like this.