Folk band The Head and the Heart released their third studio album to Signs of Light. While maintaining the group’s collaborative sound, the new album is a true reflection of the band’s time on the west coast.
22, A Million will be released on September 30, 2016. It will be the third studio album from the indie folk band. The two-time Grammy winning band gave fans a sneak peak this week with the debut of two tracks from the anticipated album.
When the four time Grammy winning folk duo The Civil Wars separated in August 2014, Joy Williams was thrust into being something she was very familiar with, a solo act. Having lots of emotionally tangible material to work off of, Williams musically labored towards her next project. Two years after the split, she released Venus. Venus is her fifth solo studio album and her first without roots in the contemporary Christian genre. Williams debuted the eleven track collection on June 30th of this year. The album is introspective and bold, touching on the themes of love, womanhood, and letting go. Reviews were positive and generally favorable for the heartache nuanced and pop folk work. Venus peaked at number 3 on the US Folk Billboard Album Charts.
On July 22nd, Joy Williams released Venus (Acoustic), a stripped miniature of the parent album under the same name. The record is seven tracks long and the pieces that were duplicated are reworked in playing order. The album is very pleasing, finding the hidden crevices of previous fast paced singles and slowing them down to find new intimate centers. The revamped tracks include:
“Sweet Love of Mine”
“You Loved Me”
“Someone to Love You” and “We Can Never Go Back” are new two additions. Like most acoustic renderings, guitars play a prominent role in the musical landscape of each song. The chords to each song are not extraordinarily diverse. The notes tend to volley and jog back and forth throughout each single. When the graceful strums are married to Williams’ lyrics like, “Remember when you loved me/Remember when I left/ Remember that time it hurt like nothing else/Wanna try that again”, the result is musically resonate and poignant.
Grammy award winning folk band Mumford & Sons released a short album titled Johannesburg today. The five track project with Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal, the band Very Best, and the Johannesburg group Beatenburg is the first release for Mumford & Sons since Wilder Mind. The EP was recorded at the South African Broadcasting Corporation. It is there that these acts tried to create a bridge between African sound and folk pop. The tracks are refreshingly warm, diverse in sound, and rhythmic.
The opening track “There Will Be Time” sets a great foundation for a sincere harmony between these three acts from different aspects of the musical spectrum.
The wait for the UK mega festival Glastonbury is now less than a week. The outdoor event, for contemporary performing arts, begins June 22nd and closes on the 26th. Located at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, the yearly event has mounted great anticipation and fervor amongst music lovers since it began in 1970. Along with current music, the festival accommodates comedy, dance, cabaret, theater, and other events within the arts spectrum. Leading pop and rock artists usually headline along the main stage. There are also thousands of other acts appearing on smaller stages and performance areas.
This year’s lineup includes Muse, Adele, Tame Impala, Jess Glynne, Skepta, Coldplay, Ellie Goulding, and others. It’s also rumored that pop icon Rihanna will do a surprise cameo during Coldplay’s set.
The event will also have its first women only venue called “The Sisterhood” this year. Glastonbury calls it a “revolutionary clubhouse,” in which the venue’s staff, performers, and security will all be women.
The festival is the largest greenfield concert in the world with the expectation of over 180,000 in attendance. The event always had extensive media coverage from television to newspapers. A good portion of the staffers are volunteers from the area using this global intersection between music and culture to promote good causes. There will be more to come soon on this festival which is one of the highlights of the concert season
Here’s some of last year’s performances:
The Lumineers, a folk rock band from Ramsey New Jersey, released their first album in three years. Cleopatra debuted on April 8th, 2016. Their multiplatinum hit single “Hey Ho” in 2012, propelled their self titled album, The Lumineers to peak at number 2 on the Billboard 200 charts. They followed the musical success of that album with a tour and other singles, namely “Submarines“. In 2014 the band began working on a follow up album which later became Cleopatra.
The title track, “Cleopatra”came from a conversation band member Wesley Schultz had with a taxi driver in the Republic of Georgia. The driver spun a tale of personal heartbreak and sadness, themes that permeate through the collection. The album cover, a black and white photo of silent movie star Theda Bara, is from the titled film Cleoptra made in 1917. The single releases from the album have been “Ophelia”, “Cleopatra”, and “Angela”. All of the tracks on the album were written and composed by band members Wesley Shultz and Jeremiah Fraites with the exception of the tracks noted:
- “Sleep on the Floor”
- “Cleopatra” (co-written with Simone Felice)
- “Gun Song”
- “Angela”(co-written with Felice)
- “In the Light”
- “Gale Song”(co-written with Neyla Pekarek)
- “Long Way from Home”
- “Sick in the Head”
- “My Eyes”(co-written with Pekarek)
Deluxe version bonus tracks
- “Where the Skies Are Blue”
- “Everyone Requires a Plan”
- “White Lie”
- Cleopatra” (Live)
Thematically, the album permeates the concepts of escapism, fame, loss and the instability of love. The opening track “Sleep on the Floor” is an imploring plead for freedom. The lyrics suggest, “Because if we don’t leave this town, we might never make it out. I was not born to drown. Baby c’mon”. There’s a challenging desperation in this statement track.
Three out of the next four tracks are female titled. “Ophelia”, “Cleopatra” and “Angela”. Ophelia is an upbeat tune with cascading piano sounds over the acoustic guitar. The lyrics echo the nostalgic sentiment of a past love gone, a feeling that also ricochets through the piano and slow clapping laced latter track “In the Light”.
“Cleopatra” continues the paced tempo of “Ophelia” and is the title track for the album. The imagery of freedom and opportunities missed highlight the story of the protagonist who laments “I was late for this, late for that, late for the love my life. When I die alone I”ll be on time”. “Angela” builds on the concept of running away with lyrics suggesting, “strangers in this town they raise you up just to cut you down.” The word “hopeless” echoes as the song builds with handclaps and pace until the tune ends with descending strums and simmering vocal hums.
Fragmented or glimpsed storytelling takes a darker turn in tracks like “Gun Song”, “Long Way from Home”, and “Sick in the Head.” The songs are filled with stern imagery of family dynamic, distance, unmet expectations, sickness, and death. They are not similarly structured in sound and exist in a diverse spectrum from hard strums in “Gun Song” to light acoustic picking in “Sick In the Head”.
“Gale Song” was highlighted on the soundtrack for the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The slow track fit the feature film’s concepts of distance, romantic breakage, and emotional breakage. The song expels, “I couldn’t know what’s in your mind but saw the pictures you’re looking fine. And there was a time that I stood in line for love, for love, for love but I let you go.” This track portrays resolute loneliness over beautifully strummed chords.
“My Eyes” and “Patience” are intertwined tracks that close out the album. “My Eyes” is a slow tune of questioning and personal disarray that can come with fame. The song laments “The glow of Hollywood signs. They sold you a bridge. They fed you the lines. You always confuse your servants for friends. But you couldn’t see how it ends.” The track serves as a verbal warning and is one of the stronger tracks on the record. “Patience” is a melodic piano outro. It flows seamlessly behind “My Eyes” to a point where most listeners can’t tell where on track ends and the next begins.
The album stays true to The Lumineers voice, storytelling vision, and sound. The lyrics are direct and leave you emotionally upheaved. Coupled by a good acoustic rhythms and harmony, it becomes an album for somber nights and adventurous days.
Listen to Cleopatra here: