Tag: T Bone Burnett

A Q&A with Jennifer Silva

Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie NicksAretha FranklinTori AmosThe Rolling StonesFlorence + The Machine and Alabama Shakes, the Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter has received attention for bringing a sensual and soulful energy to her live shows — and for lyrics that explore universal and very human paradoxes — particularly, the saint and sinner within all of us.

Silva’s debut EP was an EDM collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13 under the mononym Silva — but since the release of that effort, her material has leaned heavily towards singer/songwriter soul, rock and pop with 70s AM rock references, as you’ll hear on her most recent album, the Reed Black-produced Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth.

Silva’s latest single “I Wash My Hands” is a shimmering and gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock-like song centered around a fairly simple arrangement of guitar, bass, vocals and drums that’s sonically indebted to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Interestingly, the song was originally written as a weary lament over a major relationship that has come to an end – but the song manages takes on a heightened meaning, reflecting on a heightened sense of uncertainty and fear, suggesting that maybe Mother Earth is attempting to wash her hands of us.

The recently released video for “I Wash My Hands” was created during the mandatory social distancing and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it features Silva, her friends, family, bandmembers and voice students, separated by quarantine but connecting through the song.

I recently exchanged emails with Jennifer Silva for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series – and naturally, we chat about her new single and video, her influences –including her love of Stevie Nicks, and her songwriting process. Of course, with governments across the world closing bars, restaurants, nightclubs and music venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the impact on the music industry – particularly on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring, emerging and indie artists who grace their stages, has been devastating. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. And in this interview, Silva reveals that the much-anticipated follow-up to Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth has been rescheduled, with her and her backing band figuring out how to finish it with the use of technology. Then add lost gigs and the uncertainty of when you’ll be able to play or promote your new work, and it’s a particularly urgent and uneasy time. But the dedicated will find a way to keep on going on for as long as they can.

Check out the video and the Q&A below.

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Photo Credit: Paxton Connors

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WRH: Much of the world has been in quarantine and adhering to social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. How are you holding up? How are you spending your time? Are you binge watching anything?

Jennifer Silva: The world is upside down right now and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for me.  Shock, depression, anger, acceptance — feels like the stages of grief sometimes! I really miss my friends and my social life. Playing shows, my band. The good news though, is that my family and I are safe, healthy and well stocked. We left Brooklyn right before it got really bad and headed upstate. So, I’ve been in the woods, pretty secluded, with limited cable news (thankfully) and some great outdoorsy vibes all around me.  I’m very lucky and I really can’t complain. I’ve been spending the time connecting with my family, homeschooling my daughters, cooking, knitting, reading and writing songs!  We’ve been living a simple life these days and that’s actually a great thing sometimes. I just started watching Ozark on Netflix, finally, which is perfect for this quarantine! I’m always down for an epic drug/murder/survival story. Oh, and wine.

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates. Most of the world has been on an indefinite pause. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?

JS: This has got to be the hardest part of it all for me. I’ve also had to cancel shows, but, most significantly, literally one week before the pandemic really hit NYC, I was in the studio with my band and producer (Reed Black of Vinegar Hill Sound) tracking my next record.  We spent two full days laying down all the music and scratch vocals for 10 tracks, and I was so hyped and excited for the next two months of recording all the overdubs, lead vocals, background vocals and getting that final mix completed. Now, we must wait. Luckily though, we have the rough mixes to listen to and some of my band members are working on and planning overdubs at home. It’s frustrating but I’m still so grateful to have had those days in the studio. What we have already, sounds amazing!

WRH: How did you get into music?

JS: I’ve been singing all my life.  My father played guitar around the house throughout my childhood, and so at a young age I was singing classic rock and soul music to my family. “The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “Bring it on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke) and “To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees) were my first covers!

I also went to Catholic school as a girl where the nuns always made me sing the solos at the Christmas and Easter performances. And of course, I was singing in Church every week. That really helped shaped me as a singer because I was taught to belt without shame because it was a “gift”, so I have always been a loud singer, haha. I’m not religious anymore (thankfully), but man, I love me some Church hymns! And there is nothing like the acoustics in a Cathedral.

WRH: Who are your influences?

JS: I have so many influences from so many different genres of music.  The Animals, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and all of Motown were early loves of mine.

Then I had a whole Neo Soul moment, falling in love with singers like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Jill Scott. They definitely influenced me with their powerful female energy and style and the vocal choices they made. I also love 80’s and 90’s female badasses, like Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Hole, Garbage, Madonna and Annie Lennox. Artists with true points of view and the guts to say it.

I love Blues and Jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Ray Charles, Lead Belly. Their emotional rawness and vocal prowess has always been a guide.

Singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Tracy Chapman, T. Bone Burnett, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright and Joni Mitchell have helped shape my lyric writing and storytelling. I love Lana Del Rey as well.

Vocalists like Amy Winehouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Stevie Nicks and of course, Aretha Franklin will always be the pinnacle of greatness for me. These artists INSPIRE me.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

JS: There is so much amazing music out right now. The talent level in this industry can be intimidating actually! Right now, we’ve been listening to a lot of indie rock and singer-songwriters like Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, Töth, The Dø, Future Islands, Julia Jacklin, Sun Kil Moon, and Heartless Bastards.  And we are always playing The National and Arcade Fire. The Grateful Dead and Tom Waits are spun pretty regularly too around here. And of course, we’ve been listening to lots of John Prine since his recent passing from Covid-19.  What a loss.

WRH: I’ve probably referenced Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” more times than any other journalist in town. I think of a certain synth sound – and that song comes to mind. Plus, I love that song.

I know that Stevie Nicks is a big influence on you. What’s your favorite all-time Stevie Nicks song?

JS: One thing I really love about Stevie, which I read in her biography a few years ago (by Zoe Howe), and that I can totally relate to, was that she didn’t have any formal musical education. She just had her gorgeous melodies and emotional lyrics and really, just a simple catalog of basic chords.  Lindsey [Buckingham] would get frustrated with her because he’d have to finesse her songs so much to make them work. “Dreams,” for instance, only has 2 chords! But her songs were always their biggest hits. She tapped into an emotion and style and energy that people love and her voice is just absolutely unique and powerful. In a way, the reason she was so successful with her songwriting was because she wasn’t trapped in a musical box. She would write whatever she felt, and her uniqueness and melodies were memorable and beautiful. She inspires me so much! It’s nearly impossible to choose one favorite Stevie Nicks song, but I’ll go with “Edge of Seventeen.”  A close second is probably “Landslide.”

WRH: Your first release was an EDM-like collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13. Since then your sound has gone through a dramatic change. How did that come about?  How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you and your sound?

JS: After my old band broke up in 2014, I was searching for new musical collaborations on Craigslist. I connected with Sizigi over email and we decided to make a song together.  One song led to four, over the course of a few months. I knew going in, EDM wasn’t going to be my personal sound forever, but I was down for the challenge of writing to existing beats and learning to record all my vocals at home with GarageBand. I bought a microphone and set up a vocal booth in my closet with towels on the doors to pad the sound.  I learned to edit. I love my lyrics and vocals on those songs, and I am very proud of the work I did. So, ultimately, I chose to have the record mastered and to release the 4 song EP independently. It was a stepping-stone for me.

The music I make now is all me though. I pen all of the lyrics and write the melodies on guitar, or sometimes I use my Omnichord (a vintage electronic harp/synthesizer from the 80s, which is AMAZING) and then my band brings it all to life!  My sound can be described as indie rock soul. I love the Alabama Shakes so that’s a decent comparison, I hope. The lyrics are evocative and dramatic, and the music is organic rock, but I always sing with soul. I also love to explore the saint and the sinner in all of us and tap into themes from my Catholic upbringing — like with “The Convent” from my last record Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth and “Purgatory Road” which will be on my next record. I am inspired by elements of the occult (tarot cards, following your intuition, voodoo) and I use nature and other metaphors to write about complicated relationships.

WRH: Rockwood Music Hall celebrated their 15th anniversary earlier this year. Sadly, during this century, existing 15 years as a venue in New York time is like 149 years. Rockwood Music Hall invited an All-Star list of artists, who have cut their teeth playing the venue’s three stages to celebrate. The bill that month included JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, acts that I’ve covered like Eleanor Dubinsky, Christopher Paul Stelling, The Rad Trads, Mike Dillon, Melany Watson, as well as Jon Baptiste. How does it feel to be included with those acts?

JS: It feels amazing! I am so lucky to have played a small part in Rockwood’s incredible history. It was an absolute honor to play the stage that night, and to join that list of talented artists. Rockwood Music Hall was the first place I ever played in NYC. I remember getting an early Saturday afternoon acoustic slot with my old guitarist and playing to a mostly empty room. It was still so damn exciting to me, the opportunity to play that famous stage.  Fast forward a few years later to my packed record release show on Stage 1 and then my graduation to Stage 2, last year. Rockwood has supported me since Day 1 and to help celebrate their anniversary, on the very stage where it all began for me, made me so proud!

WRH: Your Rockwood Music Hall set included a cover of one of my favorite Lead Belly songs ever “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” It’s one of those songs that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be covered a whole lot. So, what drew you to the song? And how much does the blues influence you?

JS: I have been listening to Lead Belly for a very long time. I only knew his version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and never actually heard Nirvana’s version until many years later, which is what I think most people think of when they hear that song these days. I used to love singing that song in the car with my boyfriend. We each took a verse. It always seemed so chilling and powerful and it really tells a story that leaves you wanting more. You are right though, it’s not covered a whole lot and when we first tried in rehearsal, we knew it would kill. Everyone really responds to that one.

I generally gravitate toward big singers. Full voices filled with heartache and soul and you get that in spades with the Blues.  The Blues are rooted in emotion and that kind of expression comes naturally for me. Lead Belly and Big Mama Thornton are definitely my favorite blues artists, but I also really dig Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Bessie Smith. I love how Bonnie Raitt, Larkin Poe and Gary Clark, Jr. are keeping that tradition alive and having success with Modern Blues too.

WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

JS: I know a song is finished when I love the melody and lyrics enough to play it over and over again, day after day and when I can get lost developing the vocal runs. A good sign is when my family really responds to it as well. I also think nailing the bridge usually seals the deal for me. That’s when I write over my penciled lyrics and chords, in my black, Papermate flair pen and make it final!

I’m not a person who usually tinkers on a song for years though.  I write most songs in a few hours, or a couple of days or maybe, up to a week. I like to capture the emotion of a sentiment and get most of it right and then move on to the next song. In all honesty, the best songs write themselves in 10 minutes! I actually wrote my new single “I Wash My Hands” quickly like that.

WRH: Your latest single “I Wash My Hands” and its accompanying video officially drops today. It’s a gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock song, a weary lament of someone who’s desperate to move on from a relationship or some other major life tie. You wouldn’t have known this at the time, but the song has an eerie double meaning that reflects our current moment of uncertainty and fear. Curiously, how does it feel to have written something that initially was supposed to be about something specific that suddenly transforms into something altogether different?  

JS: Thanks. I think the lyrics are very relatable for anyone in a long-term relationship who understands that compromise and respect are needed for a couple to survive and more importantly, thrive. But in this unprecedented moment in our lives, that can also be said about humans and our planet. Fear of Covid-19 leaves us all washing our hands like never before, so now, this track also invokes Mother Nature’s demand for more respect. She is also washing her hands of our abuse, forcing us all to pause while she shows us just how powerful she is. It’s humbling.

WRH: The video for the song is pretty intimate almost home video-like visual, as it features a collection of loved ones, including family and friends lip synching along to the song – while they’re in quarantine. How did you come about the concept? And how did it feel to have your loved ones participate in the video?

JS: Last week, my brother Chris and I were talking on FaceTime, about the need for interconnectedness even while social distancing. We thought about how lonely people are, even though we are Zooming and chatting on the phone, more than ever.

We thought it would be really special if I could get some of my friends and family to lip-synch parts of this song and create a montage. Video production resources are limited here in quarantine, but everybody has a phone with a camera and time on their hands!

The video is like being on a Zoom call but this one makes me feel so happy every time I watch it! It’s all my favorite people singing my song. People in Brooklyn, California, Detroit, New Jersey, New England, and even as far as Kenya! Everyone just really came through and had fun with this project, including my voice students, family members and close friends. People I haven’t seen in two months or more! I don’t know when I’ll see them again frankly, but the video makes me feel connected to them and I think it makes them all feel connected to each other. I love it so much.

WRH: What’s next for you?

JS: While I’m quarantined, I’m going to keep making art. Keep writing music. Keep singing.

I’m also going to continue to work on my next album. Right now, the plan is to release it in the Fall, so I’ve got shows to book and all the pieces in between to plan. Follow me on Instagram (@sheissilva) for all updates, single and video releases and of course, details about the album release party and tour dates.

Please stay safe and healthy, everyone. I’m sending vibes to you all. We will get through this. And I think we will be stronger for it. And don’t forget to keep washing your hands!

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Tim Carr is a Marin County, California-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, who grew up within a family of musicians. Unsurprisingly, at an early age, Carr was immersed in music, and as a result, he eventually studied jazz drums at the California Institute of the Arts. After earning a BFA, Carr began working with a number of renowned and notable acts including HAIM, Julian Casablancas, Nick Cave, and Lucinda Williams, among others. Carr can also claim a stint as a member of The Americans, with whom he performed on Late Show With David Letterman. Additionally, as member of The Americans, Carr has recorded with T. Bone Burnett and was featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary American Epic (which was produced by the aforementioned T. Bone Burnett with Jack White and Robert Redford.)

As a solo artist, Carr’s work can be described as minimalist folk, inspired by African rhythms, French Romantics and 60s pop, mixed with instrumentalist melodies — and interestingly enough, his work caught the attention of Robert Redford, who featured material off Carr’s 2016 effort, The Last Day of Fighting on the soundtrack for his movie Watershed alongside material from Beck and Thom Yorke. Carr’s forthcoming EP Swing & Turn is the anticipated follow-up to The Last Day of Fighting, and the EP reportedly derives its name after the feeling of movement, with the material sonically and thematically being a dance between intimacy and independence. The EP’s latest single is the hauntingly beautiful “Take Me There,” which is centered around Carr’s plaintive and tender falsetto, shuffling rhythms, some strummed acoustic guitar and a coda that ends with a bluesy blast of electric guitar, and finds Carr balancing a balladeer/troubadour-liek introspection and thoughtfulness with a cinematic vibe. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song is focuses on the desire to escape apathy, highlighting the difficult but necessary need to either let go and fully love — or to let go of a love, and as a result, the song has a bittersweet air to it.

New Video: Berlin’s Alice Phoebe Lou and Olmo Team Up for a Sparse and Atmospheric Blues Duet

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alice Phoebe Lou, and as you may recall, Lou has developed a reputation for a fiercely independent, punk rock-like DIY approach to her ethereal folk music. And although her parents were documentary filmmakers, Lou took piano lessons as a child and as a teenager, taught herself to play guitar. When she turned 16, Lou spent a summer vacation visiting her aunt Paris, where armed with an acoustic guitar, she met a number of buskers and other street performers — some who taught her poi dancing.

Upon graduation, Lou went to Europe — first landing in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer, before relocating to Berlin, where she became a well-known and well-regarded busker, performing interpretations of popular songs and her own original material, and eventually developing her own unique sound.  With the release of her 2014 self-released debut EP Momentum, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began receiving international attention — and as a result, she spent the following year performing at a number of TED events in London and Berlin.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Lou released her critically applauded, 2016 full-length debut Orbit, which saw her garner a nomination for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as a set at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda. Lou spent much of that year on the road, touring to support her debut effort, sharing bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, Allen Stone and Crystal Fighters. Additionally, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter played three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium — and by demand, she added two additional planetarium shows to her 2017 tour itinerary.

Along with the Berlin Planetarium shows, Lou recorded a live version of “She” with the live performance video, shot during two different Berlin area shows going viral, receiving more than 2.5 million YouTube streams, and the song was featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Hedy Lamar Story;  in fact, the song was shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Adding to an incredible run of critical success, Lou released her latest EP, Sola at the end of last year.

Lou released a studio version of “She” back in February, which coincided with a number of international tour dates to build up buzz for her highly-anticipated sophomore album.  But before that, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist collaborating with the Bologna, Italy-born, Berlin-based blues singer/songwriter and multi-instrumetnlist Franceso Lo Giudice, best known as Olmo. Much like Lou, Olmo spent his summers going to a different city or two with a lap slide guitar, busking and soaking up the local vibes. Upon finishing his studies at the University of Bristol, Lo Giudice got heavily into production — so much so that he left a band he started Amoa Mass, relocated to Berlin and started his solo project, which meshes the blues with electronic music. Interestingly enough, Lou and Lo Giudice’s collaboration can trace its origins to when they met while busking in Berlin, and their latest song together “Devil’s Sweetheart” was reportedly written and crafted within an hour — and the song is a sparse, atmospheric yet cinematic track centered around a looping twangy, blues guitar line, a moody string arrangement, and the duo’s uncanny harmonies. Sonically, the song brings to mind Daughn Gibson’s dusty, old-timey sample-based take on country and the work of the legendary T. Bone Burnett.

The gorgeous and moodily shot video for “Devil’s Sweetheart” features some spectacular aerial performances by Valia Beauvieux and Dennis Macaofrom the Berlin based circus crew Birdmilk Collective.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-18 months or so, you’d likely see that I’ve written quite a bit about the Hamilton, ON-based singer/songwriter, guitar and newest JOVM mainstay Terra Lightfoot. And although she’s a member of Canadian country act Dinner Belles, Lightfoot, who personally has claimed Maybelle CarterSister Rosetta TharpeLead BellyLightnin’ HopkinsSam CookeOtis ReddingNina Simone and Billie Holiday, the Hamilton-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has developed a reputation as a solo artist, who crafts raw, slow-burning singer/songwriter guitar pop. Adding to a growing profile across her native Canada and elsewhere, Lightfoot opened for the likes of  Emmylou HarrisRon SexsmithGordon LightfootBlue RodeoRheostaticsGrace PotterThe BothBuilt to SpillSloanArkellsBasia BulatAlbert LeeJames BurtonThe SadiesSteve StrongmanMonster Truck and Daniel Lanois.

Lightfoot’s third full-length album New Mistakes is slated for an October 13, 2017 through Sonic Unyon Records, and as you may recall, the album’s first single “Paradise” found the Hamilton, ON-based JOVM mainstay thoroughly reinventing her sound while still retaining some of the essential elements that first caught the attention of this site and elsewhere — including Lightfoot’s personal and deeply heartfelt lyrics and booming, soulful vocals; however, “Paradise” may arguably be one of the most anthemic songs she’s released to date, as it’s rooted around the sort of bluesy shout and stomp reminiscent of T. Bone Burnett, The Black Keys and others. Of course, the song clearly pushes the Canadian JOVM mainstay’s sound towards a decided, blues rock direction — but it does so while revealing an artist, who has found her own, unique voice.

New Mistakes‘ latest single, the atmospheric  “Norma Gale” may arguably be Lightfoot’s most singer/songwriter-like songs, as it was inspired by her meeting and befriending Norma Gale, a country singer/songwriter, who developed a great following in Nashville and wound up playing with Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty during the 1970s. As Lightfoot explains in press notes, the song chronicles Gale’s life, as she’s trying to make a name for herself as a musician — while raising a young son as a single parent. “I kept in touch with Norma and her son, and let them know when I finally made it to Nashville to do some writing, but unfortunately, she had passed away two weeks earlier,” Lightfoot recalls.  Unsurprisingly, based on Lightfoot’s own work, I can see why she would be drawn to Gale and her story — and as a result, Lightfoot empathetically conveys the strength and resolve to achieve your dreams, even when things are at their most desperate. And as a musician, how can you not see yourself in the struggle of those before you, who have tried to make a name for themselves?

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New Video: Terra Lightfoot Returns with an Anthemic, Arena Rock Friendly, New Single

If you had been frequenting this site over the course of last year, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Hamilton, ON-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Terra Lightfoot. And as you may recall, although she may be be best known as a member of Canadian country act Dinner Belles, Lightfoot, who is personally influenced by Maybelle Carter, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lead Belly, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday has developed a reputation for crafting raw, slow-burning singer/songwriter-based guitar pop that nodded at  Patsy Cline and others, as you would have heard on “All Alone,” off her sophomore effort, Every Time My Mind Runs Wild and a gorgeous and mournful, solo rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that drew influence from Chet Atkins‘ instrumental rendition. Adding to a growing profile. Lightfoot has opened for the likes of  Emmylou Harris, Ron Sexsmith, Gordon Lightfoot, Blue Rodeo, Rheostatics, Grace Potter, The Both, Built to Spill, Sloan, Arkells, Basia Bulat, Albert Lee, James Burton, The Sadies, Steve Strongman, Monster Truck and Daniel Lanois on stages across France, the UK and her native Canada. 

Lightfoot’s third full-length album New Mistakes is slated for an October 13, 2017 through Sonic Unyon Records and as you’ll hear on the album’s  first single “Paradise,” the album finds Lightfoot thoroughly reinventing her sound while retaining some of the elements that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere — while still being based around Lightfoot’s personal and deeply heartfelt lyrics and booming, soulful vocals, the song is arguably one of her most anthemic songs, rooted around the sort of bluesy shout and stomp reminiscent of T. Bone Burnett, The Black Keys and others. And although it’s a decided, contemporary rock-based, modernization of her sound, it reveals a singer/songwriter, who is actively coalescing her influences into a clear and unique sound and vision. 

As Lightfoot explains in press notes, “For me, ‘Paradise’ is about letting go of perfection in love. It’s not wrestling with the problems and missteps in our relationships but embracing them. I think it’s a more realistic way to look at love and it gives me some comfort to know I’m not standing there with rose-coloured glasses on.  ‘Paradise’ actually started out as a different song called ‘Thunder’ that was a huge hit at our shows. On the last day of tracking the record, I had this crazy idea that I wanted to change the words because I wasn’t happy with all of them, so I set up a pillow fort and a guitar in the tracking room, went to work… and ended up with a new verse melody and completely different lyrics. Gus and Werner liked the new verse so much they said, ‘Okay, now go write a chorus to match that verse” — and ‘Paradise’ was born!

The recently released music video for “Paradise” is a highly symbolic video that features Lightfoot playing solo and then accompanied with her incredibly dapper backing band in an abandoned factory with an unusual intimacy. Along with that there’s a sequence that features Lightfoot dancing joyously in the rain — perhaps after recognizing a truly adult and realistic version of love. 

New Video: The Noirish and Bluesy Sounds and Visuals of KaiL Baxley’s “Killin’ Floor”

KaiL Baxley is a Williston, SC-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has seen praise from the likes of NPR and KCRW for a sound that draws heavily from old school soul and Mississippi Delta – – and for songwriting that draws from characters of his life — including an outlaw father, whom he only met once; but whom Baxley insists is a good, decent man; his mother, who was once an inmate at the same state penitentiary James Brown was in — and as Baxley mentions, Brown sang at the prison’s church and later taught a shy, young Baxley how to dance; his wise and very dear grandfather, whose anecdotes and wisdom he still quotes to this day; and the best guitar player, he personally ever met, his small town’s local mechanic. But along with that, his material draws from his own life and experiences. At one point Baxley was a Golden Gloves champion, with a chance of competing for the US Olympic boxing team before a run in with the law and a gunshot wound on his left shoulder sidetracked that dream. Sometime later, as a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Baxley left his small town and drove across the country with a few dollars and his guitar. And when he arrived in Los Angeles, he slept in an RV parked on Selma Blvd to pay for the studio time to record his full-length debut, Heat Stroke/The Wind and the War, an effort that went on to be nominated as NPR’s album of the year.

Building on his growing reputation as a singer/songwriter, Baxley’s sophomore effort A Light that Never Dies was released last year to critical praise from KCRW and NPR, who hailed the album as a reflection of the Williston-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter’s greatest talent — seeing beauty in our darkest and most desperate moments. Interestingly, with the release of “Killin’ Floor” and “High on the Moon” earlier this year, the Williston-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter continues with the bluesy and soulful sound that won him critical praise and national attention.

“Killin’ Floor,” Baxley’s first single of 2017 draws heavily on classic, back water blues, “the acapella, foot stomping kinda thing you find in the rural south where I’m from,” the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter explains. “The song stems from the feeling of you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.” Sonically speaking, the slow-burning song sounds as though it bears the dusty, old-timey imprint of legendary singer/songwriter and producer T. Bone Burnett — thanks in part to a sparse, atmospheric arrangement featuring shuffling guitar chords, brief bursts of soulful organ, gently padded drumming that gives Baxley’s soulful vocals enough room to express a familiar, timeless and visceral ache.

Directed by Ryan Sheehy and based on a general idea that both Sheehy and Baxley came up with about a Black Widow type, driving into the desert to bury the young lover, she just killed, the recently released, cinematically shot video features Baxley’s friend Michelle Forbes as the female lead. And while possessing an old-fashioned sensuality, there’s a palpable sense of dread an unease throughout.

Hayley Johnson is a 26 year-old, San Diego, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based folk singer/songwriter, who writes and performs under the moniker The Little Miss.  Inspired by Fiona Apple and Jewel, jazz, classic blues, folk and Americana, Johnson can trace the origins of her music career to when she was a child, starting girl bands during recess at school and writing lyrics in notebooks. And while in middle school, Johnson had begun performing original music at coffee shops and surf competitions around the San Diego area with her father. After performing for several years with the stage name Hazel, Johnson came up with The Little Miss while studying philosophy at San Francisco State University — and upon graduating, Johnson relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career in earnest.

Johnson has begun to receive attention for a sound and overall aesthetic that nods at the likes of the great T. Bone Burnett as both a solo artist and as a producer, or in other words, a sound and approach that’s comfortably anachronistic, in the sense that it bridges both the contemporary and old fashioned, while being soulful and viscerally earnest. “Doubt,” Johnson’s latest single is a bluesy bit of Americana featuring a scuzzy guitar line and a trippy organ chords paired with her soulful, whiskey and cigarette-tinged vocals. And while some will suggest that the song nods at Fiona Apple, whose voice Johnson’s bears a similarity to, or the White Stripes, the song reminds me a bit of The Mountain-era Heartless Bastards, as “Doubt” possesses a similar sense of regret and longing. Interestingly, as Johnson explains in press notes “‘Doubt’ concerns itself with the intellectual understanding that life’s answers cannot be summarized, but takes note of the relentless desire to still call for said answers. Eventually, it’s about asking questions that you know you will never have an answer for — i.e., “I pray everyday and I pray every night,/ but I’ll never know if I am getting it right/Or will I?”

Now, as I’ve mentioned a few times on this site, as I’m listening to tracks on Soundcloud, I’m usually multitasking — as I write this post, I’m watching the New York Yankees season opener down in Tampa Bay. And because my mind is in several different directions, I wind up being introduced to a track by a new artist I had never heard of, or going through an entire artist playlist.  So unsurprisingly, while listening to tracks I stumbled across The Little Miss’ haunting, dusty and old-timey folk-leaning cover of Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire.”