A sepia-toned western tale full of plaintive and hushed vocals, thrumming acoustic guitar, and with murmuring electric guitar floating in the background like a comforting memory that’s tragically just out of reach. Singer-songwriter Jim Brown’s portrait of a badman who knows the end is near touches on Townes Van Zandt and Nebraska-mode Springsteen.
Listen here, pilgrims.
Brown’s new record is called The Devil on the Other Shoulder, out now.
Andrea Desmond is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. Here’s a cut off of her most recent EP, Brighter Than the Stars, released this past August.
Desmond was a one-time student of world-class songwriter Alan Menken, later to forge her own path via formal education and in playing a lot with bands in California and Nevada particularly before embarking on a career under her own name. She takes her musical influences from a range of pop songwriting schools, from Sia to Regina Spektor, balancing pop hooks against varied textures and emotional undercurrents.
In listening to this track, there’s a definite sense of hopefulness in a world that seems to make despair a default position. If it’s anthems for 2018 going into 2019 that you’re looking for, you’re on the right track here.
For more about Andrea Desmond, check out her official site right here.
The best music touches us where we live, in an emotional place. Sometimes though, we get tied up in our emotions to the point where we can’t even identify how we’re feeling. That’s what this song from singer-songwriter Ana Egge is about; finding the strength to cut loose from that, allowing ourselves to feel what we feel, and becoming more aware of ourselves as a result.
Now, she’s passing that same spirit of bravery, emotional honesty, and independence on to her now four-year old daughter, embodied in this song, “Dance Around the Room with Me” taken from her newest record White Tiger.
This kind of liberation was instilled in the songwriter from early on. Egge was raised by free-spirited parents and encouraged to explore her possibilities from childhood to the time the music bug seriously took hold. From there, she built her own guitar (which she still plays today) while apprenticing under a luthier, and set out on a musical journey of her own design.
Since her first record in the late 1990s, she’s shared stages with Lucinda Williams (who once called her “the Nina Simone of folk), Shawn Colvin, and Texas Swing legends Asleep at the Wheel, with whom she collaborated in the studio. She’s appeared on albums by Ron Sexsmith and Joel Plaskett, and has worked with producers Steve Earle and Martin Terefe, among others.
With this song, she builds from a folk-pop musical base comprised of her warm acoustic guitar and light-as-air vocal. She throws in a few sonic surprises too with some ambient keyboards and subtle strings that make this song wistful and joyous all at once. And that “opens up, opens up your heart” hook will stay with you, friends.
It could be argued that this is a children’s song, dedicated as it is to Egge’s daughter and featuring a video that centres around children too. But an important takeaway here is that the sentiments of being free to feel one’s emotions as they are is a challenge set before all of us. This makes this song something of a defiant anthem in an age that seems to proudly tote “fuck your feelings” sentiments on the reg.
“Dance Around the Room With Me” is an antidote to that brand of callousness and disregard for the feelings of others, and ultimately our own feelings too. That makes this song pretty easy to love, and proves too that we have lots to learn about ourselves no matter how old we are.
Ana Egge is about to embark on a tour of the east coast of the US, with select dates in Canada and the UK, and some dates opening for Iris DeMent. Her new album White Tiger is out right now.