A round-up of recent EPs and singles
SAILING STONES is the name by which Irish born, London-based Jenny Lindfors plies her trade, the digital self-produced, self-released ‘Telescopes’ her second release, piano, brass and mellotron coming together for an atmospheric five-minute electro-folk reflective ballad about learning what love is and means that seems sure to garner yet more Laura Marling comparisons.
‘Opium Of The Masses’ is the new single from SHARON LAZIBYRD. Sharon plays ukulele which gives the song a deceptively light opening but which is quickly overtaken by a much bigger arrangement, including a gorgeous piano passage, featuring Damon and Kate Bridge and Tom Cory. This is a powerful song about consumerism and pressure to conform to market forces. And no, Sharon, it’s not just you.
A Norwegian Americana trio comprising Mari Sandvaer Kreken, husband Tor and Kjetil Steennaes, DARLING WEST lay the ground for next year’s new album with two singles, ‘After My Time’ and ‘While I Was Asleep’ (Ja), the first a strong combination of psychedelic folk, pop and swirling Appalachian influences, while the other foregrounds mellotron, harmonica and mandolin for a mid-tempo folk pop number that perhaps suggests a middle ground between First Aid Kit and Lady Antebellum. The respective B-sides, the dreamier ‘Someone Like You’ and the banjo accompanied, and to my mind, catchiest number, ‘The Sweetest Tune’ both easy on the ear, melodic mid tempo ballads that should raise anticipation for the album.
There’s some nice finger-picking and slide guitar on You’ve Been Away So Long, the new EP from ALICE HOWE. A lot of the guitar work is down to Jeff Fielder but the songs are all Alice’s. The opener, ‘Homeland Blues’, is a catchy song with a heavy country vibe belying the fact that Alice is from Boston and the record was made in Seattle. ‘Make A Fool Out Of Me’ is a country waltz with contrasting hard-bitten lyrics and the title track is a lovely atmospheric piece.
Although curiously not mentioned in the press release, MARK OLSON was, alongside Gary Louris, co-founder of seminal 80s Americana outfit The Jayhawks, quitting in 1995 to join then wife Victoria Williams in The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers, subsequently reuniting with Louris for their duo album Ready For The Flood and, eventually a Jayhawks reunion. Since 2007, he’s also had a solo career and now he and wife Ingunn Ringvold, the Norwegian multi-instrumentalist, are readying their second album together. As a taster, he’s releasing the jangling, chords cascading ‘Dear Elizabeth’ (Glitterhouse) paired with the equally tumbling backwoods folksy ‘You Are All’. If the rest of the album matches these, it should be a real treat.
More country-pop comes from JESSICA LYNN’s EP Crazy Idea which was produced by Patrick Hamilton at Globe Studios in Belgium. She’s been dubbed ‘the new Shania Twain’ and she sure has a powerful voice and big band behind her – that must be Steven Wright-Mark playing the screaming lead guitar on ‘After Party’.
Where do bands get their names from these days? THE ANATOMY OF FRANK are a trio from Charlottesville, Virginia and, ahead of their latest album South America, they release a single ‘Holy Mountain’. Nice finger-style guitar and ethereal voices: it is a song about death and loss.
Neil Wardleworth used to be in Steel Threads, a band we rather liked. Now he’s teamed up with Harriet Brooke McDonnell in HARRIET! who have a debut double-A side single on both CD and vinyl. ‘Just Sign’ is heavy without being overwhelming and features Harriet’s lead vocals while ‘Those Three Words’ presents a (slightly) more acoustic duet. Nice one.
SEÁN KEANE sings ‘The Coast Of Labrador’ composed by Brendan Graham and Denis Carey as part of the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary and now available from iTunes. The song is set during the period of Irish emigration and tells of a young man who finds a new life with an Inuit girl and eventually teaches his son to play hurling on the ice. Who knows what that might lead to?