SINGLES BAR 65 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 65STUART SMITH recorded The Sun EP Vol.2 in the world-famous Memphis studios using the time-honoured technique of one voice, one acoustic guitar, one harmonica and even a bit of talkback. (Vol.1 was released in 2019.)

Maybe it’s the association with Sun Studio that brings it on but there is a timelessness about the songs. The opener, ‘Josephine’, conjures up images of big old Yankee cars driving along dusty roads even though the setting is obviously more contemporary and the harmonica that introduces ‘Always & Never’ doesn’t destroy that mood. The finger-picked ‘A Long Goodbye’ brings the melancholy of a broken heart and a Dylanesque final line leading smoothly into ‘Waitin’ Around To Die’ followed by ‘Heaven’. Don’t look here for good cheer. A gentle electric guitar underpins the closing ‘Wait By The Window’ but it’s no happier.

THE ACCIDENTALS, who came together in Michigan, are a trio fronted by Savannah Buist and Katie Larson who presumably keep drummer Michael Dause in order. Following a live album they have now released an EP, Time Out. Sav and Katie are classically trained multi-instrumentalists who, when they aren’t rocking with their band, are in-demand string players in Nashville and add that sound to their guitar dominated songs. In fact, their strings add something magical to ‘Might As Well Be Gold’, the most recent single. ‘Night Train’ and the opener, ‘Wildfire’, have also been released as singles which just leaves ‘Anyway’ and the lovely ‘All Shall Be Well’ to mention. This is pretty classy stuff.

Previously only available on Spotify but now downloadable off Bandcamp, tenor-voiced Winchester singer-songwriter ANDY COMLEY adds another lovely single to his catalogue with the slow waltzing, yearning ‘All That I Am’, a gentle hymn to new resilience and beginnings.

It’s not often that a singer collaborates with a football club but IONA FYFE has done just that. Her new single, ‘The Northern Lights (Of Aberdeen)’, featuring Graham Rorie and Aidan Moodie of Gnoss and Michael Biggins was released to support Aberdeen FC’s season ticket drive. Written by Mary Webb, it’s a song about coming home with a strong singalong chorus balancing the longing of the lyrics.

With Polly Bolton bunking off to join The Trials of Cato, the new MAGPIES line up sees banjo player Kate Griffin joining bellow banjoist Bella Gafney and fiddler Holly Brandon make their debut with a spooked atmospheric and dark take on ‘I Never Will Marry’ (Magpies Music) that suggests a more Appalachian sound going forward.

Wiltshire trio THE LOST TRADES recruited Peter Knight to add some violin related magic to their new single, ‘Road Of Solid Gold’. It’s a powerful piece about the wanderlust crossed with a sort of night-visiting song of the sexual, not supernatural variety. Knight gets to cut loose at the end but his presence underpins the whole record.

The featured vocalist on David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet, DAISY CHUTE self-releases ‘Music Is There’, a vocal soaring, chords cascading anthemic hymn to the power of music to comfort and connect people that won the Grand Prize for the International RootsTech 2021 songwriting competition.  An album is most eagerly anticipated.

CHRIS CLEVERLEY has released a radio edit of ‘The Arrows And The Armour’ as his new single. It’s a knockout song and we should encourage you to buy it but… you should really get your hands on his album, We Sat Back And Watched It Unfold, and revel in the whole experience. Chris is a complex lyricist and the song has the grandeur of a mythical fantasy but is probably about the madness of being in love. He has a fine band in support, too.

SARAH MCQUAID releases the final two singles from her acoustic St Buryan Sessions EP, the first the hushed, simply fingerpicked and pure-voiced ‘Time To Love’ a co-write with Irish singer-songwriter Gerry O’Beirne that originally appeared on 2018’s If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous the other, accompanied by piano, a previously unrecorded cover of Michael Chapman’s ‘Rabbit Hills’. Individually wonderful but the whole EP is a must.

‘Stone’s Throw’ is the new single from Weightless / Still, the forthcoming album by ELGIN. It opens with a delicately pretty instrumental figure but builds and builds and there is a darkness in the lyrics that slowly emerges as you listen.

A five-piece folk cooperative who specialise in taking traditional shanties and shaking them by the scruff of the neck, THE SALTS dig back into their 2018 album Brave to pressgang their rowdy take on ‘Drunken Sailor’ into service as a remixed single. Great for an inebriated rowdy singsong down the folk club, but even so a somewhat bizarre choice as a standalone release.

JINNWOO has spent a great deal of time recently performing with Bird In The Belly and Green Ribbons but has now returned to solo work with a new single, ‘Milk’, in advance of an album later in the year. The song explores his obsession with nostalgia and is delivered in his typical disturbing vocal style with an accompaniment reminiscent of fairground organs. The video is equally disturbing – you’ll never ask for black tea again when you’ve seen it.

Hailing from the Armagh-Monaghan border and now based in London, DANI LARKIN is a rising nu-folk star and has been touted as one of Ireland’s finest new breed of songwriters. In the run-up to her debut album release, Notes For A Maiden Warrior, in June she’s releasing ‘Love Part Three’, a minimal strum and warm brass backdrop accompanying her gentle lilt as, the rhythm gradually building, she sings of needing to pull together during hardships, offering a testament to the power of wild spaces to soothe the ache of longing.

‘Tightrope Dance’ is the new single by MORNING CRUSH or Tim Ostrowsky-Thomas as he’s known in unreal life. Produced by Frank Turner, the song has a nicely retro feel updated by modern recording technology and tells the story of a relationship in an off-the-wall style. Nice one, Tim.