Thursday, November 2, 2017

Justin Utley - Survivors

As a potential candidate for the 2018 Eurovision contest, Justin Utley has released his newest single; an uplifting story of survival and growth. "Survivors" is a gorgeous ode to overcoming obstacles. It's about knowing the power in your own life and drawing on that to be the best version of yourself. This song is a bit of a different direction in music than what we are accustomed to hearing from Justin and it's gorgeous. It's an up tempo, dance influenced song that just makes you feel good and you don't lose any of the heartfelt performance that Justin has worked on crafting and expressing in his recordings.

There's always something very personal and very honest about what he releases. His voice has the ability to be big and full when it needs to be and small and gentle. He is theatrical and he's atmospheric and he fills up all the space he's given with his talent. I've known Justin for a while now and it brings my heart much happiness to hear him recording again. Especially when you've got a song that is going to be as important as this. It's going to touch a lot of people and give voice to experiences that are universal that we may not have had the words to express. And I think that's what makes music so important. It gives us the ability to share in universal experiences with people in a manner that connect us all together. That bring us closer to one another through a guided and curated experience that may only last 4 minutes and when that tour guide is someone as skilled as Justin; it's a good thing. You know you are in good hands and you know that you are going to come out on the other side stronger and more confident than you were when you started.

I really hope this gets selected to be in Eurovision because the world needs to be exposed to the beautiful message that Justin has to offer. He is one of the most powerful advocates I've ever known for equality and his story is important. Check out his other music and learn about him. You will be better off because you did.

Eli Lieb - Until You've Fallen Down

It always makes me happy when Eli releases new music. There are very few artists that have the consistency that he does when making decisions about what he wants to represent his art and his experience. "Until You've Fallen Down" is the latest in a long line of music that does much more than sound good. It means something. It's got heart and it's got soul and it's one of the most uplifting songs I think I've heard in a long time. The basic premise of this song is that there are times in our lives where we have to go through the bad before we can appreciate the good. We have to have the bitter with the sweet. We have to stumble to find our footing and it only makes us stronger. It makes us stand taller and fight harder because we know that there are things in the world that are worth fighting for.

This is the most mainstream song that I've heard from him. It's got the most mass market radio appeal and I think that's incredible. It's got a message but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. It's got depth and it's got an incredible amount of positivity that we aren't getting in a lot of tracks today. Eli rarely misses when he puts out a song and I want him to be a huge star so many more people can be affected by his message and his meanings. He's a beautiful artist and we are lucky to have him.

Animal Years - Caroline

Americana is one of my favorite genres. It blends so many things that I love about music. It's pop and it's rock and it's country and it's folk. It's everything about America that comes together in a musical format and it's good and it's pure. What we have here is a perfect example of how Americana should sound. It's got all the pieces that make an incredible song and it's done amazingly well. You may be familiar with groups like Of Monsters and Men or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Those are both perfect examples of what Americana sounds like if you were unfamiliar.

Mike McFadden has an awesome voice that's heartfelt and honest. It's perfectly suited for this genre of music and this song is a perfect vehicle for him. There is longing and a healthy amount of desire in this song. It's about two lovers that haven't seen each other in a long time and the passion between them is strong and powerful. Emotions and feelings that we're all familiar with and have experienced in our lives in one way or another. Listening to other tracks by this Brooklyn based band shows they've got a broad scope of understanding in how they best show off their talent. The live recording of "Pillow Talk", originally recorded by Zayn is one of my favorites - as it's one of the coolest pop songs to be recorded in a while. It's deeply personal and sexy and Mike does an amazing job pulling it off.

I've just found this group but I'm already a fan and can't wait to hear more from them in the very near future.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chelsea Jade - I Have (ft. Signal)

We've all felt small. We've all felt like we were being judged and treated less than and there are times when those feelings can seem like all we have in our life but if we dig deep inside and find that voice that will lead us out of the dark, we can stand tall and strong. Chelsea Jade is giving light to those feelings. Taking the stigma out of talking about that doubt and fear is the first step in holding your head high and being proud of where you're at in life. These aren't generally the thoughts and ideas we expect to be sung about but when they are handled as expertly as they are with "I Have", it has the power to open a dialog and give power back to those that have had the power taken from them.

I was first made aware of Chelsea as a guest vocalist on grime artist Signal's track, "Basic" and now he has repaid the favor by providing a rap on this track. His particular brand of lyricism is amazing as his flow is creative and easy. His word play is thoughtful and intelligent and creates an experience within the song. He and Chelsea pair well together as they both flow across the beat like a leaf on the wind. They have an atmospheric quality to both of their styles that pair well together like they've been doing this as a group for years. Sometimes when you have a guest vocalist, it can sound gimmicky and neither one of them do on their respective tracks. They feel like they are the missing puzzle piece that bring it all together. I look forward to hearing more from both artists separately as well as together.

Plan B - Heartbeat

As a long time Plan B fan, it's amazing to hear new music; specifically music that pushes him in a new and creative direction. He has proven time and again that there's not much he can't do, musically speaking that is. This soulful track is one of the most heartfelt I've heard from him in a while. His voice is great and the message that we have to just listen to ourselves and go our own way, no matter what is amazing. We have all made mistakes and we've all had to grow. The day we realize that we have our own path to carve out and walk away from those that don't want to see us do amazing things is one of the most powerful moments in our lives. It may take us years to reach that point but it is a magnificent turning point in our lives. I feel like Ben is always pushing himself and growing as an artist. From the Who Needs Actions days til now his growth is undeniable. I came in on Strickland Banks and I'm damn glad that I did. He's an amazing artist and I can't wait to hear this new album.

Ana Matronic - Afterlife of the Party

Ana Matronic was not only the yin to Jake Shears yang, she was also one of the most hype hype-men in the industry. Seeing her do her magic on stage in front of an audience, no matter the size was so cool. I had the pleasure of seeing the Scissor Sisters on the Ta-Dah tour in Nashville and I was maybe 25 feet from the stage and this woman is sheer magic and energy. She's a gorgeous force of nature that people easily bend to her will. When I was told that she was going to be releasing original music, I was beside myself. Don't get me wrong, I adore her collaborations with Bright Light Bright Light but she is so much more than "special guest star". She is top billing on her own and it's time that she get that.

"Afterlife of the Party" is her Halloween present to her fans and it's a deliciously, deceptive song that brings you close and holds you with is slowed tempo and sultry vocals. It's not done at a frenetic pace like her previous outings with the Sisters, it's a chill song that feels like spending time with an old friend on a brisk fall evening. It's a beautiful ode to All Hallows eve and all those things that go bump in the dark without being an out and out Halloween song. It's not a gimmick. It's not kitschy. It's magic and Ana sounds amazing. Her vocals are perfect. Her voice is gorgeous and I am glad we've got new music by her. If this is the quality of work that we're going to get from her; I can't wait to hear what her new album coming in 2018 sounds like.