September Americana Releases/Music
September Americana Releases
By Fred Roberts
Contributing Music Editor
In my voracious thirst for music I followed nearly every genre I stumbled upon, but had a blind spot for the “local” American genres as interpreted by non-American musicians: country, folk, bluegrass, etc. It was my way of limiting the amount of music to follow, and perhaps a snobbish idea that no non-American band could do justice to “our” genres. But more and more I’ve encountered artists that have caused me to rethink that idea. A selection of these are presented here in a set of four releases from the month of September. The ladies: Kristina Jung and Rose Brokenshire. The gentlemen: Emmett and Filip Johansson.
Kristina Jung – Into the Light that I Have Known (Woodland Recordings)
Kristina Jung hails from Rostock, Germany. On her EP Into the Light that I Have Known she presents us with five songs and an incredible range of voice talent, a voice that is rich and regal. At times she is a troubadour of medieval times (King with no Throne), a classic folk singer of the 1960’s (Show Me Where You Hide Your Longing), or a voice of remarkable gospel-blues sensibilities (It’s the Wind). The latter track makes me wonder if Janis Joplin accompanied by John Fahey on acoustic guitar would have sounded much differently. The fourth song of the set Wish You Were a Hunter is my favorite, weaving a spell that transfixes, the longing voice and sparse accompaniment combining into magnificence. Five songs. Highly recommended.
Rose Brokenshire – WEND
Wend is an old English word meaning to wander, to explore. The EP WEND presents five songs loosely collected around this concept but with meaning on multiple levels. Rose Brokenshire, singer-songwriter from Toronto, Canada sings with crystalline clarity. Her songs are for a quiet mood, building their magic out of the nuances of simple elegance. The first four songs of WEND are like a slow dance that breaks down all resistance. The stunning finale To My Dreams is musical poetry. To those who seek sanctuary and escape from the dissonances of the day, they may follow one into the dreams. The song ends as slightly and subtly as a dream. If you find yourself wanting more, her EP Seeds You Grow is the next stop.
Filip Johansson – Since We Were
Seven Songs for an introspective mood, superbly arranged alternative folk-pop is what Filip Johansson presents with his EP Since We Were. This is Filip’s solo project. His band Dear Sasquatch, reviewed last year at Ragazine, is already something of a legend. That project is on hold while Filip pursues a solo career in London. The EP’s opening track Autumn Leaves really does have an autumn feeling to it, singing of a relationship gone by, just like the passing of the seasons. Song to Eileen and Naive Song continue the legacy of the Dream Academy in sound and spirit, though this could be said of the entire album. Filip’s songs are intimate, honest, unassuming expressions of emotion, emotions we might be hesitant to bare to another person for fear of rejection. It’s difficult to single out a favorite song of the album since the tracks support each other as a complete work. My current favorite is the note on which the album ends, I’m Just a Man with the powerful line “I’m standing here / I’m standing proud / my dreams are loud.” My only complaint about the album is that it isn’t longer.
Emmett – This is Emmett’s New Record
Emmett is Elias Bjerstedt (vocals and acoustic guitar) and Samuel Johansson (backup guitar). Their music transforms me back to my childhood to songs like Take Me Home Country Road and Rocky Mountain High, to the feeling of driving through Kentucky and Tennessee on an odyssey to the Smoky Mountains. I have to keep reminding myself that Emmett are from Malmö, Sweden! Elias has a soulful voice two parts John Denver and one part early Bob Dylan. The accompaniment is gentle. It’s music for a warm summer night, sitting on the back porch with family and friends – Emmett’s Youtube channel is filled with back porch sessions! Trying to select the “best” song is impossible among 11 highlights, but my favorites are Montana and the epic seven minutes long Friends. Forget the city and take a drive through the Appalachian mountains, to another time, to songs of substance, before the genre of folk-country became overloaded with kitsch.
About the author:
Fred Roberts is a contributing editor and music editor of Ragazine.CC. He is an American living in Hamburg, Germany. You can read more about him in About Us.