What if I climb a really tall tree
and what if the branch it breaks under me?
Then where will I go? The only place is down
And I'm scared that my world will be turned around
~ Fly, Annie Dressner
Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names may be New York singer-songwriter's Annie Dressner's debut album, but her graceful, relaxed and assured delivery make it sound like she's got 4 or 5 releases behind her. Evoking the likes of Jenny Lewis or Neko Case, Annie's confessional quirkiness hooks you in at first listen, and her sweet voice and the lush, layered production will have you pressing "repeat" and adding the album to your summer backyard BBQ soundtrack.
Oh I just wanna fly
'cause I know the feeling would be right
Let's do it, I say tonight
Tonight would be just fine
I've worked it out
I've got my shoes laced up tight
And the temperature's alright
~ September Sky, Lizzy Lehman
With a soul, sound and subject matter that belie her years, listening to Lizzy Lehman gives the impression of a folk artist with several albums and several tours of the national coffee-house circuit already under her belt. Currently an Austinite by way of Portland, OR and Evanston, IL, Lizzy could easily hold her own in a round-robin song circle with the likes of Amber Rubarth, Ana Egge, Catie Curtis and Meg Hutchinson.
Violet dreams racing through my mind
Kaleidoscope of wishes lighting up the night
Bright, bright, bright
~ Violet Dreams, Amy Zamarripa
Generous, hard-working and talented to boot, Amy Zamarripa is a major player in the Austin Open Mic scene, hosting her own on Fridays at Fair Bean Coffee and you can find her playing out at others around town almost any other night of the week!
With a rich, bluesy voice and lush, poetic lyrics, Amy's music mixes the soulfulness of Janis Joplin, the spark of Bonnie Raitt and the mystery of Tori Amos. With one album under her belt and another one in the works, she shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
You hit my eyes like a shot of light
Thoughts of you keep me up at night
No one else comes close to this
~ You Want to Go Out Tonight, Emily Zuzik
A versatile and sought-after co-writer, New York singer-songwriter Emily Zuzik narrows her focus to pure, high-octane rock for her seventh studio album, The Wild Joys of Living. Quick to point out that the release is by the Emily Zuzik Band, the lead singer is proud of the full production and collaborative efforts that truly reflect where she is and how she wants to live her life as a musician. Released just in time for summer, The Wild Joys of Living will have you cranking up the volume, rolling down the windows and singing along at the top of your lungs.
My mother she said she had a dream
the week after you died
you called her on the phone and she cried
~ None of This Had to Happen, Josie Overmyer
Fairfield songbird Josie Overmyer has been quietly working her way into local hearts for the past few years with her piercingly honest lyrics, honey-dusted vocals, and vintage acoustic aesthetic. Josie's understated, commanding songs bring to mind the likes of Iron & Wine or Bon Iver crossed with Emmylou Harris or a little Gillian Welch.
Josie is nearly finished with her debut album, Little Bird, and will be coming into the studio on Tuesday to share about her process and a few songs!
Bluebirds on the fence, playin' kinda shy
We could sit a while and watch the clouds go by
Fragrance fills the air, I'm magnolia high
~ Natchez Road, Sweetwater Rose
If you didn't know better listening to country music sirens Sweetwater Rose, you might think they all hatched out of the same nest and grew up singing side-by-side from day one, but these songbirds were fully fledged when circumstances brought them together. Lala Deaton, Marna Taylor and Ali Sperry found each other in Nashville thanks to the vision of Mac and Diane Gayden, music business veterans who knew that today's audiences had a longing for raw, authentic connection.
Sweetwater Rose is bringing their special brand of sweet and sultry to the Sondheim Center on Saturday, February 12th.
Living in a plastic world
with a plastic dream
Where nothing is as it seems
~ Plastic, Diana Upton-Hill
If you live in Southeast Iowa, you're a fan of musical theatre, and you've been to a few shows in the past couple years, chances are you're already familiar with the talents of Diana Upton-Hill. Her newest album, Sparkle, is a chance to introduce the world to another of her skills - songwriting.
Like a multi-faceted gem, Sparkle showcases several sides of a dynamic and passionate performer. Flowing from high-energy pop to moody, gothic rock, the album evokes powerhouse voices such as Evanescence, Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne by turn. Read more at Lyrical Venus.
Listen boy, I've got some things I need to say to you
You've got me fooled more than I'd ever care to say was true
~ Freak Out, Melanie Taylor
Los Angeles based actress and singer-songwriter Melanie Taylor has her multi-talented fingers in a whole bunch of pies these days. With a cool head, mature outlook on life and deep well of passionate energy, the 22 year old has what it takes to balance her time between acting, singing and even contributing her talents to charitable causes.
Her danceable pop-rock sound has people comparing her to other powerhouse women in the genre like Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Ke$ha. Keep an eye on Melanie, she's going places! Read more about her on LyricalVenus.com
Rapid City back to Austin in a dash
Take the red high with you in a cup
so you don't crash
~ Resurrection Buzz, Jana Pochop
Two years ago, round about this time, we got to hear Jana Pochop's The Early Year EP, and it was mentioned that it was to be one in a series of three. Resurrection Buzz is EP number two. Picking up where The Early Year left off, Resurrection Buzz features the same talents in instrumentation and production, and weaves a modern Americana style tale of life on the road by someone who has truly experienced it.
Right on time
You are right on time
~ Right on Time, Ellis
Fairfield favorite Ellis is returning to Cafe Paradiso on Saturday October 9th celebrate the release of her brand new CD called Right On Time. I can't tell you how many times the chorus of that title track has been through my head since I first heard it. I can tell you that each time I hear Ellis' sweet voice and picture her smiling face singing it, I slow down, breathe a little easier, and feel a little better about my day. The new CD is "Ellis’ seventh full-length recording and it signals a shift towards greater ease and self-assurance with her art." Read more about Ellis on LyricalVenus.com
Juliana Finch was raised in the South, in an Italian-American family, listening to Irish music. Her songwriting style reflects that bizarre cocktail. She has most recently been compared to Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Natalie Merchant, which flatters her and never fails to make her want to keep it up. Juliana is a professional eavesdropper, a perpetual student, and an amateur chef. Some of her favorite things include scarves, breakfast, handmade stuff, pugs and the color red.
Even at the sideshow they're just trying to sell a lie
Look, you won't believe what you see
But I know the truth buried way deep down inside
The freaks are the same as you and me
~ Wonder Wheel, Lisa Brigantino
Spend a few minutes perusing Lisa Brigantino's website and links and you'll start to wonder if there is anything this talented musician can't do! It starts to make sense when you realize she has been steeped in music making since the age of 5, when she started piano lessons. Now able to play at least 14 instruments, Lisa has garnered a variety of songwriting and performing awards, has toured the world with an all women Led Zeppelin tribute band, shares a musical comedy act with her sister in New York, and still found time to write, record and produce her two solo albums, the newest one to be released June 7th.
If you're feeling useless baby,
all you gotta do is just focus
on the movement of the moon.
~ A Great Notion, Stephanie Nilles
Bored with playing other people's songs, classically trained pianist Stephanie Nilles turned to writing her own. Tiring of New York City, she hit the road in 2008 and found her way into the indie/folk/coffee house circuit, booking herself about 20 shows a month and playing for tips on nights she didn't have an official show.
Stephanie's music has earned her comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald, Regina Spektor and Tom Waits. Her subject matter "address issues ranging from drug busts in her neighborhood to the challenges and joys of life on the road." She is a modern day troubadour, and these are songs that make you pay attention.
I don't know what I want from you
I pretend that I do
I'm sure you see it in my eyes
I'm sure you feel it in my grip
I'm sure you hear it my voice
I'm sure you're hip
~ I'm Sure You're Hip, The Sweater Set
Friends as teens in a DC church choir, Maureen Andary and Sara Curtin reunited in 2008 when Maureen was selected as a finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest. Maureen knew Sara was pretty much the only person she could think of who would be able to do the high harmonies in her songs.
In their short time as a band, the women have been wowing audiences with quirky-smart, self-aware songs, beautifully intertwined soprano voices, and a plethora of musical instruments including guitar, ukulele, flute, glockenspiel and kazoo, to name a few!
Mainframe is calling my name
I can't get out, I'm the one to blame
There's no way out once you're in the flame
We must get out before it's too late
~ Mainframe, Nefertiti & the nefTUNES
When Nefertiti wrote an email of introduction, she described her music as "Acoustic Gangsterism" and went on to explain that the style "is a mix of reggae, hip-hop, folk, rock, soul, and blues. The music comes out sounding like Kanye West and Jill Scott's love child had a love child with Lauryn Hill and Lil' Wayne's love child, all grown-up." Needless to say, I was intrigued and had to find out more.
I can guarantee there hasn't been an artist like this on Lyrical Venus yet! Tune in to meet this soulful, creative and independent spirit.
Coyote Grace is the Folk/Roots/Grass/Indie/Blues/Left/Love/Yes duo of Joe Stevens and Ingrid Elizabeth. Energetic and engaging performers, the pair has the seasoned confidence that comes from years of touring, including one solid year back in 2007 on the road in an old RV named Harvey.
Fresh off a whirlwind tour with folk legends the Indigo Girls, Coyote Grace is headed East from their homebase in Northern California and will be arriving in Iowa mid-April for shows in Des Moines (4/17) and Fairfield (4/18).
We talked a long winding road
while I press my ear against the phone
to hear the changes in your face
as we spoke about songs
~ Honey, Jan Smith
Lyrical Venus welcomes back Jan Smith to talk about her upcoming album, as well as getting a sneak preview of some of the new tracks. Her poetry is arresting, her assured guitar chugs and clickety-clacks like a steam engine, her voice lays bare the heart (hers and yours). Tune in for this treat!
Sweet Talk Radio is the husband and wife team of Kathrin Shorr and Tim Burlingame. With a sound that has been described as alt-folk or americana-pop, the seasoned musicians have that magic chemistry of two people who have each others backs, and are passionate about making music. As they seamlessly trade vocals, guitar riffs and even instruments, they always give their songs room to breathe. The metaphors and imagery in the lyrics paint characters and whole relationships with just a few well chosen words.
Sweet Talk Radio will be at Cafe Paradiso on Saturday March 20th at 8pm. Previous Lyrical Venus guest Mary McAdams will open that show!
Read more about Sweet Talk Radio over at LyricalVenus.com
San Francisco based piano-pop trio True Margrit is fronted by singer-songwriter and piano-player Margrit Eichler. Backed by Gary Hobish on bass and Andrew Bacon on drums, Margrit delivers her intelligent, upbeat songs with just enough pop flavor to be head-boppingly catchy, and just enough indie quirk to keep your ears on their toes. Their newest album, The Juggler's Progress, is the fifth release for the band that has been described as "Aimee Mann & Ben Folds meet the Decemberists for speed Scrabble."
There's something there that's always on my mind
It hurts me right down to the core
Something that I just can't redescribe
Always there, can't close the door
~ Between You and Me, Lexie Shine
L.A. based singer-songwriter Lexie Shine does just that. With a delivery that is passionate and raw, her songs glow from inside out. Whether they are flirty or funny, romantic or rockin' there is always a familiar thread for the listener to find their way to relating to Lexie's song, and a catchy hook that will have you humming long after you press stop.
This morning I woke up grey
Just like this cloudy day
Still haven't made up my mind
Whether to shine or to rain
~ Between The Earth & The Sky, Laura Meyer
Laura Meyer lists New York City as her base, but between moving often while growing up and her extensive touring, it seems that this independent artist is also an independent spirit, able to find beauty wherever she lands. Her latest album, Miles From Nowhere, supports that idea, capturing slices of the traveling life from New Orleans to Colorado, Carolina and back to New York. Painting word pictures with a shimmering, smokey voice, Laura supports her little road vignettes with deft finger-picking and crunchy blues riffs in turn, providing as much of a trip for your ears as your imagination.
You'll find New York singer-songwriter and multi-intrumentalist Bess Rogers' name on a lot of projects these days. Whether it's for touring, backup, podcasting, YouTube shorts or television performances, her talents are in high demand! Bess' Travel Back EP takes the listener on a trip through a rich, varied aural landscape. In less than 20 minutes you can go from rip-roarin', foot-stompin', hand-clappin' rockers to stripped down, bittersweet, vocal showcasers and back again. I have a feeling Bess' name is going to keep popping up a lot more for years to come, I don't see how anything could hold her down!
I'm coming home to you
Like a lighthouse in the dark
I reach for you whenever we're apart
~ Coming Home to You, Ellis
Minnesota-based singer-songwriter Ellis has been busy since her last visit to Fairfield, including working on a new album and showcasing at the Sundance Film Festival! With her sweet voice, gigantic grin and heart-opening songs, I'm sure she made a whole bunch more new fans.
As I walk above the pavement,
I can feel you walking with me carrying me
And I hear above the silence
all these voices screaming loudly at my ear
~ Shed Their Fear, Yael Meyer
A dancer and singer since childhood in her native Chile, Yael Meyer received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music at the age of 19. It was there that she gained a deeper appreciation of the power of music and its ability to make a positive difference in the world. Currently residing in L.A., Yael released her new Heartbeat EP just a couple months ago. A beautiful blend of folk, pop and electronica, the delicate, delightful songs on Heartbeat will tickle your ears and put a smile on your heart. They are definitely making a positive difference in MY world! :)
Allison Weiss' music is said to sound like “Your saddest memories sung to the tune of your happiest”, and I think that is a pretty apt description. If you separated the lyrics from the music you’d probably get a very different feeling from each. Put together as they are though, the bittersweet, upbeat pop gems have you tapping your feet while feeling that little tug on your heart that happens when you remember something sad or the longing that comes with a crush.
I'm pretty sure that almost every time I've seen Jan Smith play live, she makes me cry. In a cathartic, "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" sort of way. She is just so real and raw that the notes creep in to my heart and force it open. The poetry reminds me to breathe deep. Her voice floats, soars, hovers, cracks, and tumbles over words in ways I don't always expect, but have me hanging on to every syllable.
I'm sliding, gliding, skating from here
From the clouds in my life to a goal that is clear
I'm on the edge of a dream with the wind in my hair
As I skate
~ Skating, Cheryl Branz
When I first saw Cheryl Branz on stage, she had a twinkle in her eye similar to the one many people attribute to the "Jolly Old Elf". That twinkle shines through her Christmas album, The Christmas Gift. Cheryl's crystalline voice shines equally bright on all the songs from silly to sweet to serious. The album is like the best kind of gift - some parts familiar, some parts surprising, all parts delightful.
When I first met Emily Dunbar two years ago at Rocky Mountain Song School, I was immediately impressed with her insightful and quirky lyrics, her optimistic attitude and her generous heart. So I was overjoyed to find out a few months ago that she had finally made an album including those songs I first heard around the campfire and wanted to hear again! As it says in the album description, Catch It When You Can "... is slick enough for the big time, but homespun enough to imagine Dunbar strumming just for you from across the room."
Earlier this year, Anne Heaton, Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson & Natalia Zukerman joined forces to record an 8 song EP of both new and traditional holiday songs called Winterbloom: Traditions Rearranged. Each artist wrote one original and put their twist on a traditional, and the other three joined in on harmonies and instruments. The girls are now touring as a group this season in support of the album, kicking off at CSPS in Cedar Rapids.
Dusty Cleveland doesn't seem that long ago
to four boys in grade school running down that dusty road
to find the precious oriole.
~ Sue Krehbiel, Dusty Cleveland
Music has been of Colorado songwriter Sue Krehbiel's life for as long as she can remember, starting out harmonizing with her dad at neighborhood sing-alongs as a kid. It has only been in the more recent times though that Sue has stepped forward to perform on her own, thanks to the coaxing and encouragement of her friends. You wouldn't know it - from her assured presence and beautiful guitar work on stage and in her debut CD, Dusty Cleveland, Sue seems like a pro who has been performing for years.