Sunday Night Music — Jessica Pratt performing “Wrong Hand” and “Strange Melody”

I came across Jessica Pratt on satellite radio recently.  Her album On Your Own Love Again was among Pitchfork’s Most Anticipated Releases of 2015.  She is currently out of L.A., but originated in San Francisco.  Her distinctive voice and precise guitar fit perfectly with her introverted form of folk and singer/songwriter music, not unlike early Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.

Here she is on KEXP performing “Wrong Hand” and the haunting “Strange Melody.”

 

 

Return from Travel Musical Sunday Interlude — Heather Maloney performing “Woodstock”

Anointed one of the five music artists to watch for April 2015 by SPIN magazine, Heather Maloney is a singer-songwriter with an expressive, disciplined, and strong musical voice.  According to her website, she studied jazz and operatic vocals in New Jersey for several years, but couldn’t quite find her place or her voice in those disciplines.  As anyone who follows either of those musical traditions, while they provide a devotee with artistic heights rarely achieved in more folk-based or pop-based musical pathways, they are ones that provide few financial and material rewards.  Still, she followed her muse to a silent meditation retreat in central Massachusetts.  Oddly, she admits, three years of mostly silence allowed her to focus on the musical path that she decided to pursue.  With guitar in hand she performed in coffee houses, libraries, and meditation centers across New England the Northeast.  She signed with groundbreaking indie label Signature Sounds in 2013, which also carries Lake Street Dive and Josh Ritter.  This break gave her more exposure in the music industry and among other artists.  What follows is the song that made her mark, one of the most difficult songs to tackle, especially given its author: Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

 

Sunday Early Morning Music — Ryley Walker performing “Primrose Green”

Designated the March Artist to Watch by WXPN in Philadelphia, Ryley Walker is a guitar virtuoso and folk/singer-songwriter out of Chicago.  His first CD, which was released last year, was the well-received All Kinds of You.  His talent is extraordinary and his musical interests span traditional folk, Celtic, jazz-folk, British late ’60s era folk-rock, country blues, and psychedelica.  His new full-length CD is entitled Primrose Green.  The title song is what follows and it is very reminiscent of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Donovan.

 

Saturday Music Interlude — French for Rabbits performing “Hard Luck Stories”

Out of Wellington, New Zealand, French for Rabbits is a folk-rock/dream-pop duo composed of vocalist/keyboardist Brooke Singer and guitarist John Fitzgerald.  They have been performing since 2011 and have just come out with their debut album.  The subjects of their songs reflect the cold seafaring and rocky coastal environment of their origins, especially in the case of Singer, who hails originally from Waikuku Beach.  But, of course, nothing is that simple in art.  Listening to their music evokes in the mind more significant connections and analogies.  Their music has matured and gained greater complexity since their first forays in 2012 and 2013.  Among the best is “Hard Luck Stories”, which follows.  Its tone is simultaneously dreamy and organic at the same time, overlaid with Singer’s beautiful vocals that leads us through her lyrical world of loneliness and desire.

 

Saturday Music Interlude — BØRNS performing “10,000 Emerald Pools”

BØRNS is the nom de plume of Garrett Borns.  He originated out of the Grand Rapids music scene that came out of the local community arts college.  After a short stint in New York, he moved to Los Angeles.  On his Facebook page, he is a self-described tree house dwelling resident of that city.  His rise, after years of woodshedding, has recently been on an upward trajectory.  This month he earned designation by XPN’s January Artist to Watch.

He sings with an otherworldly falsetto voice that closely matches by his approach to, and the selected themes of, his music.  He is largely marked as alternative and indie rock, but I would put his music closer to singer-songwriter neo-folk.  Whatever you want to call it, it is engaging and beautiful music.  Here he is with an unattributed accompanist* performing “10,000 Emerald Pools.”

Here is the electro-dream-pop version:

 

*An unforgiveable omission that almost eliminated this post.  Note to artist and record company–attribute your performers.

Saturday Evening Music Interlude — Three from Mary Fahl

There is only one word to describe the music and voice of Mary Fahl: breathtaking.  Hailing from Rockland County, New York, she has been making music since the early 1990s, initially with the respected group October Project, which had a loyal and growing following until Epic records unceremoniously dropped them.  Her music has been featured in film and television, which spans genres from pop/rock, to classical, to alternative rock, and to folk.  Her powerful contralto voice has been compared favorably to Grace Slick.  Among current artists I would compare both her music, breadth, and themes with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

 

Saturday Music Interlude — Field Report performing “Home (Leave the Lights On)”

Anyone who leaves home for long periods of time for work or service can appreciate this song.  Field Report is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin band fronted by singer Chris Porterfield.  The band garnered almost universal critical acclaim on its initial self-titled debut in 2012.  Since that release the band has reduced its membership from a septet to a quartet.  They are WXPN’s band of the month to watch and have already garnered raves from fellow musicians as varied as Mark Eitzel and Richard Thompson.  Critics have compared their music to Blood on the Tracks-era Dylan and Nebraska-era Springsteen.  The music is organic and genuine.