Once you’ve found your music comfort zone, in terms of artists and albums you listen too, it becomes quite difficult to venture out and discover something new and something completely different to what you normally listen too. Sometimes you need to take the plunge and look into artists that you would normally just brush over, they come from a variety of different genres such as Country, R&B and Rock, but all have similarities - including that of great songwriting and capabilities as storytellers, both of which contemporary pop seems to have forgotten.
The Shires - Country music in the UK has a history of being boring and dull, however this trend is finally changing. The leaders of this change have to be The Shires, the duo who only formed in 2013, have changed the way country in the UK is perceived. With two top 10 albums (on the pop charts) to their name, the Shires have transformed the way UK listeners see country and sound Nashville-bound on both of them albums (so far). This can be put down to the fact they’re the first UK act to be signed to a Nashville label and for The Shires, the sky truly is the limit.
Track you need to listen too : State Lines
Lord Huron - If you’ve been watching ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ on Netflix you would have heard one of Lord Huron’s songs, ‘The Night We Met’, but there catalogue goes far beyond this. With two albums, ‘Lonesome Dreams’ and ‘Strange Trails’, they have made indie rock emotive and really relatable. As well as this the band have created LPs that are great listens from start to finish and at the end of the day, thats what we all really want from a band isn’t it ?
Track you need to listen too : The Night We Met
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man - In the UK, Rag ‘N’ Bone man seemed to appear out of nowhere, but it is easy to understand why he has become such a success. With a bellowing bluesy voice and a killer sound Rag ‘N’ Bone man has a distinctive sound which when paired with a good song become a combination that stands out from the rest. Even though his debut album as a whole wasn’t what many had hoped for, you can be sure that Rag ‘N’ Bone Man will be round for years to come.
Track you need to listen too : Human
Leon Bridges - Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke - all three are timeless Rhythm and Blues artists but sadly it has felt as if there sound is left in the past, left in the 1960s. However Leon Bridges rejuvenates that old-school R&B sounds and brings it into the 21st century. With his debut album, Comin’ Home’ Bridges creates a sound that is so rare but also so beautiful. The albums comes from the soul and that is what music should be about, even though he has only one album at the moment - Bridges is sure to be able to emulate that sound (and success) onto many albums in the future.
Track you need to listen too : River
Chris Stapleton - What Leon Bridges has done for R&B, is what Chris Stapleton has done and continues to do for Country Music. The Kentucky native has brought back the sound of yesteryear blending Country with Southern Rock to create ‘Traveller’ which is by far one of the standout country albums for many years and has countered the bro-country movement perfect. Accompanied by his wife, Morgane, on backing vocals, Chris has created a country sound to cherish and admire which I can listen too time and time again. I cannot wait for his second album… which will hopefully be released this year.
Track you need to listen too : Fire Away
Jenny Lewis - Every now and again you get that perfect blend of genres, this is seen with Jenny Lewis who blends alternative music with country, and in the process creates something really great. Even though she has had three albums out (as a solo artist) I don’t tire of her sound. With truly country lyrics and an alternative sound, Jenny creates something just short of masterpieces, especially songs such as ‘Just One Of The Guys’ and ‘Acid Tongue’.
Track you need to listen too : Just One Of The Guys
Michael Kiwanuka - Personally I didn’t like Kiwanuka’s debut album ‘Home Again’, I just wasn’t a fan of the sound. However this has changed since he released the follow-up last year, ‘Love and Hate’. My love for his sound re-emerged after ‘Cold Little Heart’ became the theme tune to ‘Big Little Lies’ and has seen his work achieve even more praise than it did before. He is a soulful artist and his second album is a really good piece of music. Well worth a listen.
Track you need to listen too : Cold Little Heart
James Bay - If you want a blend of radio-friendly blues rock, Americana and indie then you need to listen to James Bay. The British artist has only had one album out at the moment but has made a big impact, his song ‘Hold Back the River’ has been a hit, but others from the album such as ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Scars’ make him an artist with depth and the ability to be self-aware, something that is really rare and needs to be appreciated. ‘Chaos and the Calm’, his first album, is a bit hit and miss in places, but when it works it really works.
Track you need to listen too : Let It Go
Kacey Musgraves - This is Country Music at its finest. That is all I can truly say about Kacey Musgraves, a two-time grammy winner, who has brought her retro sound to the forefront of a genre with an identity crisis. What makes Ms. Musgraves so unique is her ability to go from light and airy songs to something very dark and very deep. She also brings a political message with her, see ‘Follow Your Arrow’, but does it in a way that isn’t stuffy and in your face. She is a legend in the making and once you start listening, you won’t want to stop.
Track you need to listen too : Late To The Party
Tobias Jesso Jr. - A singer, a songwriter and a musician is what makes Tobias Jesso Jr. a triple threat. His album ‘Goon’ is filled with piano driven songs that are deep and emotive, rather than bland and boring - which many piano artists can be. Jesso also has the ability to make you feel what he is feeling and avoids making his music pop-friendly, which makes him an even greater artist. Although the album keeps a similar narrative throughout it doesn’t get tiresome and just makes you want even more.
“We’re on top of the world now darling so don’t let go…”
This song is one of my favorites by Christina Perri. It’s
fun, quirky, and most importantly it features Ed Sheeran (plus Taylor Swift’s
laugh towards the end) It’s the ultimate story about a couple who sees
themselves being together forever. My favorite lyric is “You’re my bright blue
sky // You’re the sun in my eyes // Oh baby you’re my life // You’re the reason
why” because it describes that feeling of true love and how magical it can be.
This song is basically 8 minutes and 46 seconds of pure
magic. When I first came across this song I couldn’t believe such a thing
existed. It may not be as uplifting as the previous song, but I feel that its
story of hopeful romance is really heartwarming and Ed’s way of turning lyrics
into something so powerful really puts me in his position of needing love. It is
incredible to see how he can take simple phrases and reword them into something
so thrilling. When he says, “paint splattered teardrops on my shirt” instead of
simply saying he is crying is just crazy to me. This song is one of my
favorites by Ed and it is my go-to song whenever I need to calm down.
Throwing it back to Taylor’s country days, this song is a
love story about being fearless and not knowing why. “And I don’t know why, but
with you I’d dance. In a storm, in my best dress. Fearless” This song is about when
you just can’t help how you feel about someone, and you’re nervous and scared,
but also excited. It’s cute and really captures the story of someone who just
can’t control how they feel. It’s totally a classic T-Swift love song.
This song is the definition of true love. It’s the story of
Dan and Shay’s grandparents, and how they built their love step by step and
grew old together. The song starts with, “Grandma and grandpa painted a picture
of sixty-five years // And one little house // More than a memory // More than
saying I do // Kiss you goodnight’s and I love you’s.” These few opening lines
are so powerful because it shows how much love means to them and how their love
is not just “saying I Do” at their wedding, but it’s all of the work and effort
they put into it. This song is different from other Dan + Shay songs, because
most of their songs are the type I would roll down the windows to in the middle
on the night during the Summer, but this song is beautiful and meaningful.
Okay yes, judge me all you want, but I love this song for
multiple reasons. 1) It is totally about Taylor Swift and 2) It is actually a
really cute story. It’s basically a song about not being the typical “Mr.
Perfect”, but being perfect in his own way. It lists off things that aren’t ideal
for a boyfriend. “I might never be your knight in shining armour
// I might never be the one you take home to
mother // And I might never be the one
who brings you flowers.” But then it continues into the reasons why he is
perfect for this specific girl. “If you like causing trouble up in hotel rooms
// And if you like having secret little rendezvous // If you like to do the things you know that we
shouldn’t do //Then baby, I’m perfect
// Baby, I’m perfect for you.” It’s funny and
cute and really gives the listener a sense of the crazy relationship that Harry
Styles and Taylor Swift shared.
How Would You Feel – Ed Sheeran
This song literally just came out tonight, and
after the first time I heard it I automatically fell in love with it. I love
how Ed starts by saying, “You are the one girl, you know that it’s true.” This
song is so beautiful and I really love how Ed’s music has evolved into music
about pure love, rather than the heartbreak he used to sing about. I love how
he says, “Love flows deeper than a river, every moment that I spend with you.” It’s
exciting to see his music grow and this song only makes me more excited for his
album coming out in March.
All of the songs in this collection share one main
similarity in the theme - Love. They are
all different in genre and sound, but they all share the same focus of falling
in love, finding a soulmate, or being totally wrong and right for a person at
the same time. Each artist brings something different to the theme, but they all leave
you with one message – love is inevitable.