Category: Country

New Audio: Introducing the Cosmic Country of Honey Harper

Perhaps best known for stints in acclaimed indie acts Mood Rings and Promise Keeper, the Georgia-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist William Fussell grew up surrounded and immersed in country music. And with his recording project Honey Harper, Fussell introduced himself to the country music world with the release of his debut EP, 2017’s Universal Country, a critically applauded effort that found Fussell that draws influence from his Georgia roots — but with a genre-bending, outsider perspective. 

Fussell is currently working on his full-length debut, which is slated for release later this year but in the meantime, the Georgia-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist is releasing an EP in April — and his first single of this year, which also is the EP’s first single is the shimmering and atmospheric “Strawberry Lite.” Centered around fluttering electronics, steel pedal guitar and Fussell’s crooning and a soaring hook, the song is a cosmic (and perhaps shoegazey) take on the familiar and beloved country sound — and while pushing the genre in a very different direction, the new track manages to built upon a swelling range of subtle (yet very profound) emotions. 

Speaking about how the song came together, Honey Harper shares, “‘Strawberry Lite’ was written on the couch in my living room and on the floor of Dean Street Studios, where I record most often. I lay on the ground of the studio with Mick and Gus, two of my band members, as we discussed the song and what we all thought it meant. We talked about the past and the future, stress and letting go, The Grateful Dead, old hippie slogans, and hip new t-shirt companies and I wrote out new lines and transcribed mumbled demo verses to finish the lyrics.” Finally, he deconstructed the song and pieced it back together with the help of Parisian production trio Mind Gamers (Sebastien Tellier, John Kirby, and Daniel Stricker) to create the final version of the song as it stands now.  

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Lola Kirke Teams Up with Wyndham Garnett on a Gorgeous Cover of Ted Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are”

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress Lola Kirke. Although she may be best known for starring roles in  Noah Bambauch’s Mistress America and the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, and a supporting role in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and actress is the daughter of drummer of drummer Simon Kirke, who was a member of the 70s hit-making rock bands Bad Company and Free and Lorraine Kirke, the owner of Geminola, a New York-based vintage boutique known for supplying outfits for Sex and the City.  

As a solo artist, Kirke’s Wyndham Garnett-produced full-length debut, Heart Head West was released last year through Downtown Records, and  the album, which was tracked live to tape was a deeply personal effort that was as Kirke said in press notes “about basically everything I thought about in 2017 — time, loss, social injustice, sex, drinking, longing — essentially everything I’d talk about with a close friend for 40 minutes.” 

Wyndham Garnett is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who first made a name for himself as an original member of Elvis Perkins in Dearland and a touring member of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And as a result, he has shared stages with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Cold War Kids, Levon Helm, Pete Seeger, Dr. Dog, The Felice Brothers, Marco Benevento and a lengthy list others. 2016 saw the release of his self-produced full-length debut WYNDHAM and the Gus Seyffert-produced EP Double You, which featured lead single “Gypsy,” a track that landed on Elle’s “Best New Songs of December 2016” with singles by the legendary Neil Young and Childish Gambino. Now, as you may recall Garnett is a frequent collaborator with Kirke that has included her self-titled EP, last year’s Heart Head West and a pair of Christmas-themed songs. 

Garnett and Kirke continue their ongoing and extraordinarily successful collaboration with two Valentine’s Day-themed singles “Lights On” and a cover of Ted Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are.” The Garnett and Kirke cover of Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are” is a fairly straightforward and atmospheric rendition of the song with a twangy 12 bar blues-like solo, the song is rooted in cold and lonely nights, longing for that special someone, who’s far away — although the song hints at the hope of being with that person again. “When we first got together, Wyndham and I rented a house in upstate New York and spent the majority of our time drinking too much wine and learning songs we liked on guitar so we could at least sing them at parties and maybe one day even record them,” Kirke says in press notes. “Ted Lucas’ ‘Baby Where You Are’ came into our lives then and has remained a staple because of how simply it expresses the truth of love and longing. I’m always excited by art that achieves that balance, which is why I fell so in love with Wyndham’s song ‘Lights On.’ I feel like the two songs express different sides of desire, one that is more certain and the other less, but both hopeful and both very known.”

Throughout the bulk of my time as a music journalist, critic and blogger, I’ve managed to write about the New York-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, label head and longtime JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, and throughout that period of time, she has effortlessly and restlessly bounced back and forth between singer/songwriter folk, blues-tinged, power chord rock and twangy, country-tinged rock over the course of growing, critically applauded catalog that includes two EPs and two full-length albums — her self titled EP, her full-length debut, Nomad, 2013’s sophomore album Behold a Pale Horse and 2016’s Strays in the Cut EP.  Adding to a growing profile, the longtime JOVM mainstay has shared stages with a lengthy list of notable artists and acts including Ron Pope, Von Grey, Marc Cohn, Joan Osbourne, John Waite, Lez Zeppelin, Crystal Bowersox, Howie Day, Teddy Geiger, Tony Lucca, Lee DeWyze, Tyler Hilton and Live’s Ed Kowalczyk among others — and she’s spent time material for other artists, as well as for film and TV.

A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about Anna Rose, and her first single of this year, the Paul Moak-produced and Rose and Mando Saenz co-written “Nobody Knows I’m Here” is a slow-burning song that sounds indebted to beer soaked, honky tonk country and breezy, hook-driven 70s AM rock. In some way, the song is part of a gradual return to her Nomad-era singer/songwriter days while sounding as refined, self-assured as Behold a Pale Horse and Strays in the Cut. However, “Nobody Knows I’m Here” may arguably be one of the darker songs of Rose’s growing catalog, as it feels a bit like the lonely and world weary sigh of someone who has led a messy and complicated life, complete with small victories, crushing defeats, bitter regrets, dumb luck and bad luck, good ones who got away and bad ones who’ve stayed far too long. Subtly touching on themes of anonymity, the loss of ego and wounded pride, the song as Rose explains in press notes is “about choosing to envelop yourself fin darkness in order to find the light again.”

New Audio: Lola Kirke Releases a Gorgeous Acoustic Version of “Monster”

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress Lola Kirke. And as you may recall, while she may be best known for starring roles in Noah Bambauch’s Mistress America and the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, and a supporting role in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and actress is the daughter of drummer of drummer Simon Kirke, who was a member of the 70s hit-making rock bands Bad Company and Free and Lorraine Kirke, the owner of Geminola, a New York0-based vintage boutique known for supplying outfits for Sex and the City.

Downtown Records released Kirke’s Wyndham Garnett-produced full-length debut Heart Head West earlier this year. The album which was tracked live to tape is a deeply personal effort that she says was “about basically everything I thought about in 2017 — time, loss, social injustice, sex, drinking, longing — essentially everything I’d talk about with a close friend for 40 minutes.”  “Sexy Song,” which I wrote about earlier this year was a slow-burning and meditative honky tonk country song that subtly recalled Chris Issak and Roy Orbison with a feminine and self-assured sultriness. “Supposed To” was a rollicking country stomper, that recalled Sun Records country and early rock — in particular Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Patsy Cline but centered around the social pressure that her — and in turn, countless other women — experience and feel in daily life, to be and do things that they don’t want to ever do. 

Heart Head West’s first single “Monster” was a meditative, honky tonk ballad featuring an arrangement of reverb-drenched twangy guitars, a soaring hook that’s centered around a yearning desire to belong, to fit in somewhere in the world, when you’re truly a stranger. After a successful UK tour that saw her playing in front of sold out shows, Kirke announced three holiday season shows in California — and that she’ll be opening for Australian singer/songwriter Alex Cameron’s North American tour. The tour will include a March 1, 2019 stop at The Bell House. You can check out the rest of the tour dates below. But in the meantime, Kirke released an acoustic version of “Monster,” which features a gorgeous string arrangement that turns the song into an old-timey ballad, while retaining the song’s aching yearning to fit in somewhere.