by Frank Ippolito
So, I get this email from the wonderful and lovely editors filled with a bunch of new stuff to listen to – made my day, actually.
But I thought that instead of taking each album one by one and listening to them in their entirety, I decided to generally take the first song (sans Sumiko Sprinkle, I chose her original), that the artist had on their page and make me a little “mixtape” and listen to them like that.
Why, you ask? Thanks for asking.
Here’s why: Because that’s the way people listen to records these days. Gone are the days when people will actually invest the time into an entire album (sans the wonderful Mr. Mitchell Hillman, a writer I admire). Our music players are all on shuffle, amirite? Or we are all too busy or haven’t taken our ADHD meds. I bet you you’re already scanning down to find out what I thought about the music (It’s OK, I get it, but hey, hold up for a second).
Additionally, I wanted to find out how each artist represented themselves on their music pages. What was the very first thing they wanted me to hear? And overall, my ears were delighted.
Why should I listen?
Each one of these artists has their own unique style and their own sense of self. From Brian Lopez, who is a wonderful storyteller (especially on the track “Persephone”), to Courtney Marie Andrews who transported me back to the Grand Ol’ Opry with her track, “They Say”. Owl and Penny, a favorite of mine, combines layers and textures and creates, well, basically a ghost story on “Wild Woods”. Sumiko Sprinkle jazzes it up on their track, “Sleepin’ In” – great smokey vocals and some terrific horns that add just the right amount of texture to the track (but when they say “Sleepin’ In” they uh, don’t mean it…) The Wanda Junes track, “Pallet”, has this great little banjo part that puts the mood smack dab in the middle of the Ozark Mountains but with a contemporary spin. And I guess my favorite, Saw Fox with “Honey Lover Sky Watcher”. Its delicate guitar, airy vocals and really great lyrics totally won me over. Maybe because I’m a junkie for the Cowboy Junkies, because that’s what it reminded of.
What you should listen for:
Listen closely how every artist above commits to their music. Fully and wholly. I mean whether its acoustic, folk, blues-y jazz, or ghost folk, it doesn’t nearly get heads bobbing up and down like rock or dare I say, pop, but these cats sound like they believe in what they’re doing and, in turn, I believe it.
One more thing:
While this genre doesn’t instantly translate to a must-see live performance, each and every one of these musicians/bands deserve your attention at the club. Yeah, you’re not gonna rock out, dance and spin until you vomit, but you will be privy to really wonderful musicianship and music. IMO.
(BTW, my experiment was a success in my book.)
Perfect listening for:
A rainy day. Reading “The Stranger” by Camus. Or during the time you’re thinking of changing your relationship status on Facebook.
Here’s where you can find the entire albums: