Freya Arde – ‘Spirit Awake’

Freya Arde is an award-winning composer, guitarist and music producer. Her 5-track EP “Spirit Awake” is a peaceful, mystical and perfectly cohesive musical wander through an enchanted forest. 

Freya creates enveloping soundscapes combining acoustic instrumentation with audio processing and electronics. On “Spirited Awake” the soundscapes revolve around the guitar, which often plays hypnotic, minimalist melodies.

The first track adeptly named “Peaceful” is a calm and soothing introduction to this immersive sonic landscape. Beautifully recorded and performed acoustic guitar combines with a subtle bed of drone-like strings bowed softly to create a piece that allows itself time to breathe. The electronic elements are subtle and tasteful in the form of occasional glitch elements in the background, creating a gentle tapestry of sound, the illusion of a summer rain that comes and goes.

With “Spirit Awake”, we pick up the pace, an ostinato on plucked guitar urging us to advance into further exploration of the sound world that Freya creates. It is a pleasant surprise when the multiple layers of guitars momentarily give way to haunting vocalising, magnificently joined later by the lush sound of the cello.

When hearing the words ‘ambient music’ and ‘guitar’, one would be automatically inclined to look for references from Robert Fripp’s music. Freya’s guitar is very different, but perhaps “Tears of the Forest” is the first piece where we thought we could make out faint echoes of frippertronics. Perhaps a more adept comparison is to some of Daniel Lanois’ ambient work, in terms of the processed electric guitar that is also present in the tracks that follow.

“Featherlike” continues with the same instrumentation and timbres, only now there is more processing, the glitches and noises are brought further towards the foreground. The piece builds towards one single significant moment: the fleeting dissonance right before three minutes in, no more than a passing cloud in the sky before the peaceful resolve.

We are almost at the end of the journey with “Lying down after a long day”. Here Freya continues her exploration of sound, with unobtrusive nods to musique concrete. We feel as if we are hearing echoes of the previous pieces, only transformed, as if the spirit is wandering now through the land of dreams, with scattered reflections of the day’s previous stroll through the woods. And when the journey is over, we feel sorry that it has ended.

Find out more about Freya Arden and her work on her website.

Jack Conway – ‘Calluses’

LA based Jack Conway releases ‘Calluses’, a powerful, uplifting pop ballad with traces of Lukas Graham. Calluses hives consideration to the current circumstances and has a simple message that we will emerge stronger from our difficult experiences. 

The arrangement is simple yet effective, with a piano driven verse giving way to a chorus with a satisfying deep bass, wide vocal harmonies and the title hook, ‘calluses’. 

The lyrics of the verses follow a story of pain and anguish, an honest depiction of a troubled life, contrasted with a hopeful chorus: “this one goes out to all the hopeless kids / you’re so much more than all your brokenness”, with a touching message of hope in the falsetto middle eight.

Jack says, “Calluses is the most personal track I’ve ever written. It was inspired by David Goggins, who talks about callusing your mind, just like how you can “callus” your hands – usually from rock climbing or weight-lifting. Calluses are formed through challenging experiences, but they make you a stronger person allowing you to go farther in life.

“Calluses” has all the features of a song one would hear on the radio, and delivers a refreshing message of hope in a well-put together package.

Stream ‘Calluses’ on all platforms.

Find out more about Jack Conway on Instagram and Facebook.

Jewelia – ‘Maze’

Jewelia’s music is a mixture of nostalgia-infused indie pop and piano-powered fairy tales. In 2020 the London-based singer-songwriter wrote and released a song on the 20th of every month on her website, as part of a self-challenge she called “Project2020.” ‘Maze’ was the first track of Project2020 and exactly one year later, is the first to be revisited and released with a music video.

‘Maze’ is a dreamy, Sufjan Stevens-esque journey through the metaphorical maze of life, with each cascading fork in the road taking us further down a path we can never go back on. The minimalist arrangement is underpinned with the trotting rhythm of an electro-acoustic piano, on top of which airy layers of vocals create an ethereal soundscape. 

The music purposefully compliments the yearning lyrics. The recurring “Wish I had more time” line is illustrated musically through the irregular time signature, which creates an underlying sense of unease, with the vocal melodies forever chasing a rhythm that is cut short.

The song gradually grows to the soaring conclusion, where several vocal melodies create polyrhythms on top of the instrumental, as if to display the “complicated pattern of twist and turns of fate” that the lyrics refer to.

Maze” is about my (and every other human being’s) inherent fear of ageing. I feel like there are so many things I want to do, or try, or experience, and never enough time. Every road we take is another road not taken, just like in that popular Robert Frost poem. Once upon a time I was set to become a lawyer, I chose to be a musician instead. Unfortunately life is too short to be able to experience everything, and we never know where it might take us or which are the right choices.”

Stream ‘Maze’ on all platforms.

Find out more about Jewelia on Instagram, Facebook and her website.

Krapka;KOMA & JAGARA: ‘Ghost’

Krapka;KOMA is an electronic girl group based in Lviv, Ukraine. JAGARA is Jane, a singer and electronic artist/producer based in Berlin. The musicians found out about each other on the US podcast “Produced by a girl”, which led to a collaboration on the track “Ghost.”

“Ghost” is a lo-fi downtempo track, the kind you want to listen to with your headphones on and a steaming hot drink in your hand while the rain is tapping on the window. 

JAGARA’s soulful vocals float effortlessly over a dreamy soundscape of synths, lush electric piano and laid back beat. The production of the vocals is reminiscent of 80’s records, in that it’s not auto-tuned to fake perfection as per today’s pop standards, but still has that modern, contemporary shine. The prominent trip-hop bass also contributes to the retro feel, the nostalgia accentuated by the brass sample drenched in reverb, the musical echo of a distant ghost. The track has a an unconventional structure, yet manages to stay perfectly cohesive.

Contrary to the title, or to the recurring line of the chorus ” Little deaths happen every day”, the message of “Ghost” is optimistic. “It is all about accepting anything that doesn’t go your way and shrugging it off so that you can enjoy what is good and what makes you feel alive”, as the artists explain.

We always love hearing the work of artists who self-produce their work, but it’s even more exciting to catch a glimpse of the process and of the gear – check out this awesome live performance of “Ghost”:

Stream “Ghost” on your preferred platform.

Find out more about Krapka;KOMA on Instagram, Facebook and Bandcamp.

Find out more about JAGARA on Instagram, Facebook and and Bandcamp.

Nikkita – ‘Postcard Lover’

The stunning debut single from London singer-songwriter Nikkita, “Postcard Lover” is a tremendously cinematic and emotive three minute journey.

‘Postcard Lover’ opens with a pensive piano motif that is the backbone of the song. A sparse but extremely evocative arrangement takes us on a journey from the quiet stillness of night time to the swelling rush of thoughts and memories flooding in. The piano motif comes back in the strings and in the hummed chorus melody, like a haunting memory of an ex-lover.

Nikkita’s voice is like a vintage wine, rare and full of flavour. A recognisable alto timbre, brimming with emotion and vulnerability, a tone that is unlikely to go unnoticed.

‘Postcard Lover” is an exquisite track that was clearly the work of musicians with a strong understanding of songwriting, music theory and production, and a work of love. It is already making waves on Spotify where it was recently added to the “Most beautiful songs in the world” editorial playlist.

Stream “Postcard Lover” on all platforms.

Find out more about Nikkita on Instagram and Facebook.

Luna Keller – ‘Prophecy’

Luna Keller’s single “Prophecy” is an honest and intimate song about new beginnings, growth and self-discovery.

Growing up between two cultures and surrounded by music Luna Keller is a singer-songwriter with a unique perspective fuelled by her curiosity and a deep connection to her emotions through songwriting.

Luna’s voice holds a soft comforting quality, her performance imbued with a fragility that evokes the imagery of a delicate soul huddled inside a cocoon, matching the subtle poetry of her lyrics. The guitar provides a gentle accompaniment, the simplicity of the arrangement breathing a raw organic feel into the track. Slowly, the song unfolds to end on an uplifting note, a leap of faith into the unknown.

The music video is quintessential of the times we live in, filmed in what looks like an empty theatre. Luna performs on the stage, playing to instances of herself that make up the audience. Our interpretation of the video is that we are looking at one’s aspiring selfs at various points in time, contemplating the future and one’s dreams. Nevertheless we hope that the time will come soon when live performance will be up and running again, and Luna Keller will be once again able to delight real audiences with her wonderful music!

Stream “Prophecy” on all platforms.

Find out more about Luna Keller on Instagram, Facebook and her website.

Corinna Jane – ‘Give Me a Sign’

Corinna Jane is a Franco-British singer-songwriter who grew up in Northamptonshire. Her music falls under the alternative pop umbrella, but she has crafted her own very recognisable brand of quirky pop. Her latest single “Give Me a Sign” is a powerful yet delicate pop rock song, driven by Corinna’s perfectly controlled vocals and poignant lyrics.

The song starts with a descending piano chord progression, introducing the listener to a sparse, tasteful arrangement. The production complements the songwriting, creating an introspective atmosphere with a sense of fragmentation, as if to portray the numbness and the feeling of being lost that Corinna sings about.

The song progresses into a powerful chorus supported by an anthemic drum beat. Corinna’s accomplished vocals come across as strong, but tinged with just the right amount of underlying vulnerability.

The music video is simple, but beautifully shot and and entertaining all throughout thanks to Corinna’s magnetic presence.

An independent release of the highest standard, Corinna Jane’s “Give Me a Sign” is just type of quirky pop that we approve of!

Stream “Give Me a Sign” on your preferred platform.

Find out more about Corinna on Instagram, Facebook and her website.