Rookies On The Rise
So many in fact it is pretty difficult to keep up with them all and their musical output. The state of those genres continues to grow and is as healthy as ever. Here are a few of my favourite emerging young artists and their releases that have come across my desk lately (in no order of importance).
Ethan Crump – Hellfire & Amazing Grace (EP)
Ethan Crump’s debut EP Hellfire & Amazing Grace came out this June.
He is from a small town between Atlanta and Athens called Hartwell, Georgia. Ethan has a mature outlook, understands the musical troubadour traditions and both his songwriting and instrumentation are based fair and square on the backbone of folk and country music. His voice is pure and clear, without unnecessary adornments. He sounds like a young Steve Earle or Guy Clark.
“Most of these songs are just simple stories that I felt compelled to tell,” Ethan Crump says. “No fancy writing or pretty singing.”
“Ethan is an extraordinary talent, a songwriter, artist and musician and it has been a pleasure to work with him,” says one such veteran, award-winning hit songwriter Beth Neilsen Chapman. “His perspective is very original and I can’t wait to watch him continue to develop.”
Here’s a clip of the excellent ‘Mason County Blues’ from the EP
Mackenzie Shivers – Living In My Head (EP)
New York singer-songwriter Mackenzie Shivers started writing music when she was four years old and started piano lessons when she was five. She received a degree in music composition, while studying piano, voice and orchestration.
Releasing her first album Neverland in 2014, Mackenzie played in a handful of New York-based bands, plying her craft. Her follow-up release Living in My Head is powerful, showcasing her Celtic-inspired piano-driven folk. Living in My Head is due out September 2 2016 and portrays the joys and struggles of the city, as well as a new marriage.
Here’s one of the tracks off the EP – ‘Lily Rose’:
Hollie Smith – Water or Gold
Okay, not quite a rookie in terms of the number of releases, but New Zealander Hollie Smith’s voice needs to be heard much more widely. One of New Zealand’s most predominant and celebrated musicians, Hollie in June released her sixth studio album Water Or Gold.
Doses of soul, blues and rock here, with a razor edge. Smith has won several New Zealand music awards including Best Female Solo Artist, played shows at the Montreal Jazz festival and was signed to the world-famous record label Blue Note Records.
Her passionate and touching vocals are superb here. Do not take my word for it, have a listen to this:
Riley Etheridge Jr – Secret, Hope & Waiting
Americana singer-songwriter Riley Etheridge Jr is New York City-based and will be releasing a new album Secrets, Hope & Waiting on September 9 2016. The album tells one story from multiple points of view (a la Rashomon), encompassing a wide-sweeping, eight-song tender acoustic travelogue.
It is stripped-back and raw (you can hear a chair move at one point) which allows the lyrics, imageries and stories their lustre.
I couldn’t find any audio/visual material relating to the new album, but here is a clip of from an earlier track “Another Time, Another Place’:
via Rock Ridge Music
Shawn Lidster – Devil & The Angel
The album cover says a lot. Here is ex-pat Canadian, now Australian resident Shawn Lidster at the gates of Neil Young’s Broken Arrow ranch in Redwood California.
His album is totally self-funded and the production duties are by great Australian artist Shane Nicholson. Shawn hopes to be able to get the album out officially by September 2016, It would be a crying shame if it does not.
Devil & The Angel is crammed with vibrant and colourful tales, the rolling ‘The Tailwind’, the tip-toe-ing of ‘Alive’ and the ambitious urgency of ‘Ned Kelly’ (Australia’s most famous bushranger) are but three highlights.
Mark Webb – Home (EP)
Mark Webb is an Americana/alt. country artist based out of Greenville, South Carolina who released an EP called Home this July on Gold Ship Records.
Mark got his start playing the local coffee shop scene and continued to tour the southeast of the USA evolving and enriching his sound. He has shared the stage with Ted Russell Kamp of Shooter Jennings and Justin Townes Earle.
Mark is currently touring which will include multiple sets at Bristol’s annual Rhythm and Roots Reunion in September, where I will get a chance to catch up with him.
Here’s a teaser for Home:
Via Gold Ship Records
Ryan Brookhouse – Big Town Blue
Another Australian whose music needs to get a wider audience.
Ryan Brookhouse is a country boy now living in the ‘big smoke’ of Sydney, Australia. Ryan has confessed that he has had some hard times and his experiences have fuelled the songs on this release with passion and vivid images.
Highlights for me are the title track, the poignant ‘Electric Girl’ and the cautionary ‘Guns’.
Here’s a clip for the title track, the engaging ‘Big Town Blue’: