Natalie Jane Hill - Kate Ellis - Mike Etten - Ruth Lyon - Vera Ellen - Parliamo

Natalie Jane Hill - Orb Weaver.

“Orb Weaver” is a song about comparing myself to the hidden intricacies that I might find on a walk in the woods. I attach most of my memories to what is visually around during a certain time. Sometimes there is a comfort to the natural world and other times there is a harshness. My experiences can almost mirror them. I’d like to think that nature has a way of telling us exactly what we need to hear.

Taken from the forthcoming "Solely”, the sophomore effort by folk guitarist/singer-songwriter Natalie Jane Hill, it is a record of transition. While the Central Texas native’s stunning debut “Azalea” grew from years spent developing a textural narrative voice and idiosyncratic guitar style in the vibrant Blue Ridge Mountains, “Solely” represents a period of inward growth, and an outward push into an expanded sonic palette.

Following a move back to the Austin area in the fall of 2019, just months ahead of the pandemic, Natalie began an intensive period of reflection, and expanded her song-craft’s foundations from the broader themes of nature into the vulnerable intricacies of self-discovery. Along with this process came an openness to external creative input.

Recorded between October 2020-March 2021 to Tascam 8 track in the Lockhart Texas home of producer Jason Chronis (Voxtrot, Tele Novella), these recordings represent Hill’s first incorporation of other musicians into her arrangements, featuring performances by Mat Davidson (Twain) among several other trusted friends. There is a liberating and careful grace in these collaborations, providing strength and color to the upper branches of each song while preserving space for the health of the roots.


Kate Ellis – Bluebirds And Rye.

US artist Kate Ellis Bluebirds & Rye released on Friday! This is the second single from her impressive sophomore album ‘Spirals’ due out in early 2022; a collection of songs that came out of a process of soul searching "to quiet the thought storms in my head and find my balance in the world," says Kate.

‘Bluebirds And Rye' follows the critically acclaimed and widely playlisted first single Another Way. Also produced by John Reynolds (Sinead O'Connor, Indigo Girls, Damien Dempsey), it is a sweet, poignant and uplifting folk song about a mother’s loving words of advice for her young daughter. In Kate’s words: "I wrote this for my daughter who, like me, is an emotional girl. 

This is my letter to her telling her I know what she’s going through, and it can feel hard, but everything’s going to be fine in the end. The song is about recognising the patterns in myself that I can see getting passed on, and the pitfalls of certain emotional pathways that I know from experience you want to avoid. I wanted to tell her: just take a breath and find a moment of rest. All there is is love and peace, everything else is in your head. This is what's important so don’t worry about the other stuff; it’s all going to be ok."


Mike Etten - Drive.

The newest Dull Tools release is the first solo venture from Mike Etten, who you may know from his contributions to PC Worship & to Dougie Poole's recent LPs. Love Wash lands somewhere in between those two projects stylistically, it's a brooding psych-folk LP filled with unconventional arrangement touches, as demonstrated by the rubato swirl of saxophone, synth and acoustic guitar that kicks things off.

Drive was inspired by a late night trip down a country back road, touching dark memories of that ride and wrong turns made in the past. The tune starts with a simple guitar figure that unfolds and winds its way through changes, with a mix of percussion and drum machines bouncing around it. It felt like it lent itself to pedal steel, so I asked Tristan Shepherd (Dougie Poole band) to put down some tremolo-y tracks and a wild fuzzed out solo in the middle that really gave this one its character. 

I improvised a lead synth track that I really like too, it has that first-take spontaneity which I tried to capture whenever I could through the whole recording process. Drive feels full of confusion and hope at the same time, with me trying to move towards a more peaceful station, a more loving vision, and accepting that chaos can always be around the next corner.


Ruth Lyon - Lemon Tree.

Ruth Lyon is a singer-songwriter of intense honesty and an impulse to say it how it is. Making a unique brand of ‘baroque-pop’ she bares her soul with courage and conviction - full of stark self-reflection but also a knowing nod to the absurdity of life. She returns to drop her latest single “Lemon Tree” on August 25th, in anticipation of her debut EP “Nothing’s Perfect” expected October 22nd.

In 2019 Ruth released her first single “I’d Give It All” (under the name Ruth Patterson) which received support from 6 Music, Radio X and Spotify editorial. In 2020 Ruth cemented herself as one of the North East’s most important voices, when Sage Gateshead named her Artist-in-Residence. Over the course of the year, despite being thrown into turmoil by the pandemic, Ruth released two more singles, the evocative “Sink or Swim” and “Somebody Else”, for which she received the PRS Woman Make Music award and was named as BBC Intro one to watch in 2021.

Ruth is now taking on her mother’s maiden name, Lyon, as she launches the next chapter of her career.  Co-producing with Rhiannon Mair (Laura Marling, LUNA) and Cameron Craig (Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua) Ruth explores her different identities - from the louche rock star, to the bittersweet poet, looking for love and a place in the world. Classically trained but with an eye for the catchy chorus and bright, pop melodies, Ruth sweeps from self-questioning piano ballads and lush string arrangements, to hands-in-the-air indie bangers. With the raw energy of a young disabled person who has constantly had to adapt to life’s twists and turns, her introspective and sometimes droll twist on storytelling brings up questions you never knew you should be asking.


Vera Ellen - Crack The Whip.

Introducing Vera Ellen’s third single ‘Crack the Whip’. Vera wrote most of this song when she came back to New Zealand from LA at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was feeling a bit of whiplash from moving countries. I was reflecting a lot on the motions of life,  the wheel of fortune and coming to accept that our efforts to control anything are charmingly futile.”

Lyrically, it's a mash up of different points of Vera feeling homesick for New Zealand; when she was missing the nature and culture and people. “I used to work at this pop up called "Wonderworld" on Hollywood Boulevard. No one would ever come in so I would just stand at the counter and look out the window wondering why the hell I came here.”

The accompanying video is made up from home video footage from Wellington Zoo in 1997, and features Vera Ellen, her brother Albert River (who features heavily on the upcoming album, and is also in Vera’s live band), and their Nana. These images are intercut with footage of familiar sights from Vera’s current LA residence; Hollywood and Santa Monica beach.

“My brother and I are very close and we have always had this way of protecting each other. The video kind of turned into a homage to our bond and the deep sadness of being apart.“


Parliamo - She's Only Human.

Perth, Scotland based 6-piece Parliamo (pronounced Par-Lee-Ammo) today release new single "She's Only Human",  lifted from upcoming EP 'The Parliamo Manifesto', out October 7th via Modern Sky (The Coral, The Lathums, Abbie Ozard).

A bracing indie-rock jammer addressing the fragility of mental health, speaking on the release of the new single, the band said: "She’s Only Human is a testament to confusion in confusing times. It discusses the limitations that those with poor mental health can face when it comes to relationships with others and oneself, and ultimately conveys that it’s okay not to be okay."

The band's upcoming debut EP 'The Parliamo Manifesto' is the culmination of over a year's songwriting and is a bold statement of intent from the 6 piece. Employing a charming tongue-in-cheek approach to some of the slightly darker aspects of life which young people face today, the record touches on the complications of religious pressure on "Catholic Guilt", spiralling addiction on "Who Needs a Reason?", mental health on new single "She’s Only Human" and the awkward beauty of young love on lead single "Paul & Barry".

The baggy, swaggering sound of the band and the often darkly humorous nature of the lyrics, stands in stark contrast with some of the subject matter, echoing the band’s propensity for laughing in lieu of crying. In a world of such turmoil and uncertainty, with ‘The Parliamo Manifesto’ the band are aiming to reconcile people with positivity through vibrant, energetic music, whilst providing a relatable commentary on the modern world and the inner workings of the minds of young people.

Written and delivered in the Scottish vernacular, the record offers a somewhat unique perspective on the simultaneously charming and terrifying nature of modern life.