This month’s roundup features newly-minted stars like Jordan Davis, Ryan Kinder, and Jackie Lee, as well as heartfelt contributions from Gretchen Peters and Andrew Duhon.
Zack: “Say Grace” by Gretchen Peters
Gretchen Peters literally offers a catharsis with “Say Grace” off her excellent new album, Dancing With The Beast. On an album that challenges who we are and what we’re doing for each other, “Say Grace” offers that glimpse of hope with its message of acceptance and redemption, reminding us that it’s never too late to change.
Lydia: “Long Year” by Jackie Lee
After recently hearing Jackie Lee’s personal story of battling cancer– not once, but twice, I wanted to know more. I quickly found Lee’s video for “Long Year.” It’s a sonically beautiful song written by Lee along with Barry Dean and Sean McConnell. The song itself with pull at your heartstrings, but wait until you see the accompanying video. Alternating between Lee playing a gripping piano solo and actual footage he documented during his chemotherapy treatments for testicular cancer, the video is just about as real as you can get. The bravery in sharing such a personal story with the world (not only trying to cope with the recent loss of his mother, but his own medical battles) is one that I hope the world takes notice of. Allowing so many others to connect to similar situations and emotions while realizing they aren’t alone is truly powerful. This is the beauty of songwriting and expression through music. Bravo, Jackie Lee!
Markus: Home State by Jordan Davis
Upon hearing “Singles You Up”, I never thought I’d be singing the praises of Jordan Davis’ debut project, but here we are. The first single is a distinct low point on the album, but it’s an otherwise strong group of recordings. He demonstrates an intricacy of songwriting and storytelling, while building big, soaring hooks within these boundaries. Recordings like “Going ‘Round” and “Leaving New Orleans” tell human stories from a first-person perspective, and allow Davis’ strong voice to take full control. The production, while bombastic in moments and never overly country, is solid and works to add depth to the tone and atmosphere of each track. While many new male artists burst onto the scene with a lack of identity, Davis has crafted a distinct sense of artistry, and has allowed himself to stand out from his peers. It’s a rock solid album that demonstrates strong potential for Davis and his music.
Amanda: The Road EP by Ryan Kinder
Ryan Kinder low-key dropped a three song release on May 18 and it’s got more soul than anything else you’ll hear right now. Mixing his country roots with his love for bluesy guitar riffs, he’s created his own unique sound that is so incredibly organic that it’s almost unbelievable. Each song on The Road gives us a sneak peak at Kinder’s multi-talented skill set and takes us on a different musical journey. Whether it’s his slick guitar work on “Leap of Faith” or the southern wholesomeness of “Alabama” as he’s torn between two cities that are calling to his heart, or the way his smooth and tender vocals reach a new level of passion in songs like “Stay,” one thing is certain: Ryan Kinder is an artist that should be on everybody’s musical radar.
Emily: “Take It From Me” by Jordan Davis
If you’re searching for your new favorite song, look no further than Jordan Davis’ “Take It From Me.” The title uses an unexpected twist on the familiar phrase, with Davis physically offering up his favorite t-shirt for the taking to his love interest. The chorus ends with the other meaning, “You know what I want, I got what you need… take it from me.” The driving guitar riff is infectious and immediately likeable. “Take It From Me” was co-written by Davis, his brother (and Black River Entertainment Recording artist) Jacob Davis, and Jason Gantt. Your car speakers are already thanking you for blasting this fresh summer jam.
Natalie: “Street Fair” by Andrew Duhon
If this song doesn’t lower your blood pressure and restore your faith in romance, I’m not sure I can help you. It’s sweet, simple and earnest, but Duhon’s gravelly vocals help to combat the lyrics’ saccharine sentiments, creating a well-balanced track. The track offers a moment of lightness among the contemplative and thought-provoking songs that comprise the rest of Duhon’s album, False River, which is somehow both a rainy-day album and a windows-down road trip soundtrack all in one.