Mailbag: Delta Rae: “Bottom of the River”

Delta Rae is a North Carolina band with four lead singers, and a whole mess of harmonies.  Their sound fuses Americana, Blues, Gospel, and Rock, and it comes at you like a freight train.  In their new, Halloween-friendly single, “Bottom of the River” (video and free download below), the band creates an enormous sound that combines layered harmonies and driving, bodily percussion.  The result is an earthy track that feels, fittingly enough, like a spell being cast.

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Music for a Rainy Day: Saintseneca – Last

Saintseneca is a band of lifelong friends from Columbus, Ohio who write songs that move easily from tender to frenetic and back again.  With pop-folk songs built on traditional, Appalachian instruments (banjos, fiddles, dulcimers, and “other forms of frontporch percussion”), Saintseneca’s sound is both modern and traditional. And mesmerizing, at times… it wouldn’t do to not mention that their new album – Last – is an impressive blast of hungry, vigorous, even anthemic pop-folk.  It’s awesome, and you should definitely follow me for more information…

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Mailbag: Summer-Winter – Bewildered

Summer-Winter is a band from Pittsburgh, PA that features Terry O’Hara and several contributing musicians from Pittsburgh and NYC.  The music that results is mature, nuanced, and beautiful.  On Terry’s most recent album – Bewildered – the influence of bands like Mojave 3 simply can’t be overlooked.  The album is gentle in its langour, and recalls introspective moments of sitting on someone’s back porch and sipping whiskey deep into the twilight.  Perhaps even more compelling, however, is the path that this album took to arrive into the world.  A journey that its simple disclaimer – “The second album from Summer-Winter, Bewildered, was feverishly written in a week during dreamlike spells of insomnia.” – doesn’t really capture.  Let’s take a look…

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Mailbag: Anja McCloskey – And Her Head

Anja McCloskey is a singer-songwriter and accordionist from the U.K. who writes dramatic songs that positively burst with atmosphere and texture.  Her latest single (and accompanying video) “And Her Head,” which was inspired by a tragic event in her grandfather’s life, is a stirring mix of strings, violin, as well as Anja’s trademark vocals and accordion.  It’s a bold choice, certainly, to center a musical career around an instrument that many regard as a novelty, but there is no hint of irony here.  For Anja, the accordion is a thing of beauty and love.

Here’s how she describes it: “Ever since my grandpa started playing his accordion to me as a little child I have wanted to play it too. I just love the deep and full sounds and the little quirky noises the accordion makes and I don’t know any other instrument that can be so versatile and expressive.” Despite the thematic components of her songs, Anja is quick to challenge the assertion that this is Folk music: “I didn’t grow up or learn in a folk environment at all,” says Anja. “The accordion is obviously a folk instrument and I have been exposed to a lot of folk-inspired music since living in the UK, but my music owes just as much to classical.”

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New Music: Sonya Cotton – It Is So

Sonya Cotton’s new album – It is so – (released this week via bandcamp and her personal website) is a beautiful, touching collection of songs dedicated, as Sonya writes, “…to the life and spirit of my mother, Karen Imparato Cotton.”  The album also contains the track “Song For Eric,” a tribute to Sonya’s friend Eric Bayer who died of cancer shortly after her own mother succumbed to the same disease.  Given these moments of great loss, it might be expected that an album like It is so would be somber and funereal.

And yes, there is sadness and loss in It is so. And yet, the album is also a wonderful celebration of life in all its forms.  As Sonya writes: “The album is a tribute to my mother who passed away two years ago; she had cancer.  In addition to exploring loss of many kinds (loss of life, of safe space, of hope,) the songs are also, as I see them, prayers, and celebrations of love.”

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