One tune that really excited me

Singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson is approaching her forthcoming EP and the upwelling Concrete may just be the solemn heartbeat that characterises the songwriter’s new style ever since her return to the stage last year. In itself a fantasy “about getting close to the ground – and being allowed to give up”, Jamieson imagines a scenario of her final, peaceful moments walking along her local surroundings. That is a crushing notion, and yet beautifully put into sound. Her sombre vocals are raining down on the song’s pavement, backed by warm synths and a build-up that leads us through dark feelings and back towards the bright light of day. Given that you let yourself be pulled down these roads, you’ll find that there is beauty in it all, not to speak of the sincere reflection of existential doubts.

One wonderful (re)discovery

While we’re at it, why not stay in these chambers of melancholy? I have kind of used this year to stock up on my private vinyl collection and among my recent happy acquisitions is Nick Drake‘s undying classic Pink Moon, which continues to touch my senses in a way few records can. As simple and intuitive as the sonorous guitar strings keep ringing in the ear, along with a soothing voice that may well have inspired entire generations of heavy-minded folk artists after him, as profound are the worlds he invites you to enter. It really makes me wonder, what it will take for a record of the here and now to ever reach that status.

One thing that really annoyed me

I really don’t want to take it out on Novo Amor‘s Opaline per se (but yeah, they might have better songs), so why don’t we just blame it on the divine algorithms of Spotify then? As I stumbled on their lead track to their new album, I realised that it does annoy me how uniquely inspired albums get “ripped apart” for the sake of appearing on some playlist. Too harsh? Well, maybe. While I still have to appreciate the benefits of their service, I have to say that I am really looking out for listening experiences that are captivating beyond certain similarities that artists share. Carefully selecting a set of songs may indeed be a precious art no artificial process can replace – and hopefully not a lost one soon.

One thing that really surprised me

I have to admit, I didn’t get the deal about Big Thief up to this point – and I am still finding my way in. In the meantime, I stumbled onto front woman Adrianne Lenker‘s recent solo work songs + instrumentals, which might change my mind about her project altogether, particularly the latter half of it. Recorded in a one-room cabin in the woods and waiting out the early days of the pandemic , these two close to twenty minutes-long pieces create the peace of introspection and meditation, flowing through ambient and adventurous stretches of guitar virtuosity and actually wind chimes. I cannot imagine being more soothed by something seemingly so simple and yet so infinitely overwhelming.

Just a random thought

This has been my first full year as an author writing for NBHAP and while I much enjoyed wrapping my head around new music and exciting artists for our sections, I also realised how short-lived these affairs can be. Songs and records I dearly embraced at the beginning of 2020, I almost forgot about as the year proceeded. There is so much new music to discover and as thrilling as it is to dive into fresh tunes every few weeks, these special Nick Drake-like moments are quite rare. Maybe more commitment is a solution to this? As for now, I will be doing a little experiments with close friends of mine soon: Give a away a record on vinyl that you really care about every three months – and get one in return. Aside from the ritual experience it might even grant personal moments of dedication and reflection. A potential candidate for such a selection would be the music of Nathan Ball, a worthwhile discovery, whose debut album I just cannot await.

How do you stay updated in the digital thunderstorm of new releases? By trusting your favourite music media and its various curated playlists on Spotify to provide you with all the good stuff we consider recommendable in this day in age.