POTW (2019/32): There’s Another Train

With There’s Another Train, we have another first time curator on the blog this week: Songmistress, aka Autumn Dawn Leader. She’s an independent singer-songwriter from Leicestershire who has a growing following around the world. It’s lovely to be covering a playlist made by another artist from my local East Midlands area! Plus, after last week’s marathon, this is a refreshingly short selection.

Autumn Dawn Leader

Autumn Dawn Leader’s Twitter bio says that if Nick Drake and Sandy Denny had a lovechild, it would be her. That’s a bold claim, but not too far off! She has a real depth to her songwriting, which falls somewhere in the folk/folk-pop and gothic domain. Leader also has another project with Chris Chambers: a prog-folk duo named The Secret Magpies. You’ll get a taste of both when you listen to this week’s list.

There’s Another Train is uncharacteristically ‘nearly positive’ for Songmistress’s playlists, by her own admission. Typically, her song selections are slightly melancholy or creepy, maybe even a little dark, but always deeply thoughtful. I’ll be featuring another of her playlists soon, so you’ll get a better idea. This playlist, while slightly lighter in mood, maintains her characteristic thoughtfulness. She is an excellent lyricist herself, and this tends to be reflected in her song choices across all her playlists.

Looking Up (From Life’s Struggles)

The playlist kicks off with Arcade Fire’s Women of a Certain Age. This is a cheerful, slightly celtic, reggae piece, with lyrics that are potentially darker than the tune might suggest. (It depends on what you read into them.) This ambiguity of mood continues as the playlist progresses. Lyrically, we are looking up, but from a place of struggle. Marillion’s song Beautiful, a lament on how humans treat each other with encouragement to ignore the naysayers gave me goosebumps. There are a few classic singer-songwriter tracks here, too, such as Sandy Denny singing Solo, and Carole King’s Tapestry. Independent artists get a look in, too, notably Tracy Colletto, with Victory.

And then there is the jolly Mocha – Reimagined from Lucy, Racquel and Me. This track tells us a lot about the current state of the music industry in the internet age. The three performers in the group have never met and live on three different continents, but are making great music. Introverts of the world, unite!

The last track, There’s Another Train, which lends the playlist its name, is from the Poozies. They also have a Leicestershire connection through singer Sally Barker. Barker is a founding member and was a runner up in The Voice UK talent competition in 2014. She is now pursuing a solo career, but you can hear her on this track from around 20 years earlier.

Duration: 1h 25min, 22 songs.

Rating: This one gets a U. I didn’t notice anything offensive and nothing is labelled ‘explicit’, so it ought to be suitable for all ages.

Ideal For: Sitting and just listening to the lyrics. This playlist would also work to accompany painting or drawing or other quiet activities where you can actively listen.

POTW (2019/22): Instrumental imaginaries and Atmospheric Architects

This week’s playlist of the week is Instrumental imaginaries and Atmospheric Architects. It’s a wonderfully varied relaxing playlist that journeys across genres and is all instrumental, as the title indicates. It takes in classic rock, disco, funk, classical, folk, psychedelic, epic and ambient styles – amongst others! A constant is the high quality of the tracks selected and how they conjure up images in your imagination. Artists featured range from household names like Jamiroquai and Jean-Michel Jarre to the relatively obscure and label-free.

Mat Champney of The Mighty Fallen is the curator; he also curated another recent POTW: Silent River. (There’s a little about the band in that article, and you can also hear one of their tracks in this playlist).

I found this particular playlist rather immersive. It’s one you might prefer to actively listen to, without attempting to concentrate on something else at the same time. (It works quite well for that, too, though.) I did find myself just disappearing into the music at times and floating off somewhere remote in my mind.

Duration: 3h 56min ; 57 songs

Rating: U, fit for all listeners. Whilst I wouldn’t expect that to change, this being a relaxing instrumental playlist and all, if you are at all concerned about explicit content, put the filter on. Then you won’t need to worry about dubious lyrics appearing while eg your mum is within earshot!

POTW (2019/11): Deep Indie

This week, our Playlist of the Week is ‘Deep Indie’, curated by Ezequiel Cagnoli. Ezequiel is a systems analyst by day, and a musician by night (as well as being a husband and a dad). Previously the singer and rhythm guitarist of “Ninos Vimos”, he quit the band to focus exclusively on his solo project as there wasn’t enough time for both. In 2018 he released his first single, Schadenfreude and at the end of the year a four song EP, No Se Puede Vivir de la Idee de Vivir, which translates as ‘You cannot live off just the idea of living’. Another, instrumental EP is in the works.

Ezequiel’s playlist Deep Indie is a pleasant collection of songs with an independent, rootsy and sensitive flavour. That is not to say that all of them are by independent artists, though: there are some world-renowned bands in this playlist, such as Radiohead, Beck and Bon Iver. But regardless of who made them and whether a label was involved, these songs feel like the artist wasn’t being told what to produce in order to be ‘commercial’. There is a broad range of ‘indie-ness’ (or otherwise) represented, from artists followed by only a dozen or so people, right up to the aforementioned mega-stars with millions of fans. The emphasis is more towards guitars than electronic sounds and it’s worth noting too that while most of the songs are in English, there is a sprinkling of tracks in Spanish or German.

I’ve been impressed by the detailed attention that has been paid to making this playlist flow. Sometimes the way that the tracks fit together is almost uncanny, such as the transition from Kodaline’s All I Want into Beck’s Lost Cause. Providing that Spotify doesn’t throw an advert inbetween, of course, which is what happened when I went back to do a double-check of what I just heard.

Playlist of the Week (2018/38)

Playlist of the Week (2018/38): r/DreamFolk_, curated by Tommy Wilson

This week’s Playlist of the Week comes from the recently formed “Dreamfolk_” community on Reddit.com.  There are some really lovely tracks here, mostly from artists I hadn’t previously discovered, like Ben Howard and Wilsen. To be honest, before I found this group (via the Indiefolk subreddit), I was unaware of the ‘Dreamfolk’ genre label, even though it turns out it’s entirely my kind of music!  (So many sub-genres, so little time, as I’ve probably said before.)

The list is quite short at present, weighing in at under an hour at the time of writing, but hopefully as the Reddit community grows, there will be new additions and further discoveries to be made.

Playlist of the Week (2018/32)

Playlist of the Week (2018/32): Barry McLoughlin's Acoustic Treasures collection.

This Monday’s POTW comes from a Dublin-born and Canadian-raised acoustic artist, Barry McLoughlin, who has been lauded for his songwriting as well as his vocals.

A resident of a small town Sioux Lookout, Ontario, McLoughlin is a prolific songwriter, who first appeared at Toronto’s Massey Hall, at just 17 years old.  For a taste of his sparsely produced guitar-folk ballads, check out the beautiful love song “Dulcinea“, or “Do You Still Believe?“.  If you like the music of Gordon Lightfoot, Iain Archer or Glen Hansard, I think you’ll enjoy his writing, too.

The Acoustic Treasures playlist is a collection of songs by lesser-known artists, which fit with the aesthetic – but not necessarily the genre – of his own music, where the songs speak for themselves. I really enjoyed playing it and hope you will too.