Silver Linings – Katie Pederson Shares Hopeful Words of Wisdom on ‘The Tracking Room Sessions’

Katie Pederson has recorded three new tracks for her latest EP, “The Tracking Room Sessions.” Photo by Savannah Wilde

Katie Pederson magically creates her own silver linings.

The Nashville pop singer-songwriter sprinkles hopeful words of wisdom and growth after recovering from heartbreak on her latest poignant, three-track EP, The Tracking Room Sessions, which dropped May 1 via all streaming platforms.

“I think at that time in my life I was going through a lot of that in different areas. A lot of times for me, breakup songs are so much more than that. I think there’s a lot of loss in different areas of my life, and that was just the best way that I could articulate it,” Pederson said.

Pederson beautifully articulates her personal reflections about love and loss throughout her fourth piano-centric release recorded at The Tracking Room in Nashville. Soulful, emotive vocals and hypnotic, uplifting piano chords immerse listeners in spirit-healing waters after experiencing the unexpected sting of rejection.

That first drop of relief arrives in “Quiet Waters,” which blends deep, sparse piano, delicate bass and sweeping drum brushes with Pederson’s melancholy, velvety vocals as she laments, “Take me back to that night/Manhattan and a glass of wine/When my hope was alive, you had that fire in your eyes/Ritter on the radio, singing I’m coming home/And the stars in the sky were aligned/All the things we didn’t know such a short time ago/All my days I thought you’d be mine.”

While initially ruminating in “Quiet Waters,” Pederson confidently embarks on a therapeutic journey throughout “Recover.” The self-assured track weaves soulful hums, rhythmic finger snaps, lingering piano, delicate synths and light bass as she emphatically declares, “I’m moving to Alaska/Lord knows I am never coming back,” and “There is no amount of red or white to calm this anxious mind.”

“‘Quiet Waters’ and ‘Recover’ were songs that I had written in June or July of last year, and I had written quite a few in that time period. Those two were the ones that stuck out to me the most,” said Pederson, who’s originally from Ann Arbor.

Perhaps Pederson’s most striking track includes a new soaring acoustic version of “The Landing” as vibrant, thoughtful piano entwines with sorrowful, optimistic vocals. Throughout her turbulent flight, Pederson tries to “soften the landing” as she sings, “Oh the road has been long and lonely/And one of my darkest nights/I swear you saved me/I was high as hope could’ve ever let me fly/And we were alone, you and I.”

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Days of Creation – New Nick Behnan Single Pays Tribute to Detroit’s Musical Legacy

Nick Behnan and Kendrick Hardaway celebrate the eclectic sounds of Detroit on “Days of Creation.”

Nick Behnan knows what’s good for the musical soul.

The Detroit singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist seamlessly fuses soulful, funky and rocky grooves into his latest single, “Days of Creation,” which pays homage to the Motor City’s musical legacy.

“That was the first thing I wanted to do in that song, and if you notice at the end, there’s a shout-out to Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Parliament. I definitely wanted to keep it as a tribute to Motown,” Behnan said.

“Regardless of what anyone says about this city, I honestly think it has the most timeless and the most iconic music ever. There might be a few exceptions, but I think it would be tough to beat Detroit as a whole when it comes to everything that’s come out of this city.”

Available today via all streaming platforms, “Days of Creation” features funky bass, rhythmic electric guitar, pulsating drums and vintage organ wrapped in 3.5 minutes of groovy sonic bliss. It also spotlights the smooth soulful vocals of Detroit R&B singer-songwriter and longtime Behnan collaborator Kendrick Hardaway.

Throughout the track, Hardaway beautifully sings, “What happened to the good days of creation/Will they ever come back/C’mon give me that funk baby, c’mon give me that soul/Cuz I need some inspiration, real Motown flow/C’mon give me that funk baby, c’mon give me that soul/I don’t want no imitation, straight rock and roll.”

Besides paying tribute to Motown and Detroit’s musical legacy, the track also references the absence of soul and funk from today’s popular music. These days, mainstream artists are less likely to blend several genres into one track – think back to Michael Jackson’s 1984 hit single, “Thriller.”

“New music doesn’t quite have the same soul like Bob Seger says in his song. There are great bands out there, and not to take anything away from them, but on the whole as far as pop music’s concerned, I think it’s lacking in soul,” said Behnan, who plays all the instruments on “Days of Creation.”

Continue reading “Days of Creation – New Nick Behnan Single Pays Tribute to Detroit’s Musical Legacy”

Peace of Mind – Ally Evenson Defeats Internal Battles on ‘Not So Pretty’ Debut EP

Ally Evenson combats internal struggles on “Not So Pretty.” Photo by Donatella Pompeo

Ally Evenson recently made peace with herself.

The Detroit indie alt-folk singer-songwriter quietly resolved inner struggles and outer forces threatening her self-worth on Not So Pretty, a cathartic, five-track debut EP that dropped April 17.

“I went through a lot internally and externally in the beginning of 2019, and then throughout the year, things started moving internally, and I was having battles within myself. Those were more at the end of 2019, which I think you can tell more of the internal thoughts within ‘Burning Room’ and ‘Not So Pretty,’” Evenson said.

“‘Not So Pretty’ basically helped me not to hate myself anymore. For about eight or nine months of 2019, I could not stand myself, and I thought I was the worst person ever, and I needed to write that song. It was a mix of finishing that song and going back to therapy that really helped me to be in a way better place emotionally and mentally.”

Evenson follows her curative journey through reflective lyrics, soothing harmonies, dreamy soundscapes and shimmering instrumentation. Each Not So Pretty track invites us to tranquilly absorb and instantly connect with Evenson’s increasing vulnerabilities about self-esteem, losses and personal relationships.

The raw, pulsating title track features angry, brief bursts of electric guitar riffs fused with steady drums and soft bass. As a soaring soprano, Evenson revealingly sings, “I’m not so pretty/I’m not so clean/If only you could read what’s written in between me/And holding flowers, won’t make me look pure/And writing all these songs about it isn’t a cure.”

“I wrote it before a class I was supposed to have a song for, and I didn’t wanna play a cover, and I didn’t wanna play any of my other songs, and I sat down and started writing. I sang it in a class, and I just got so angry while I was singing it, and after it, I felt great. The rest of the day I was smiling and felt like everything was lifted off my shoulders,” said Evenson, who also submitted an acoustic video of the track for this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest.

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The Nonconformists – Mike & Joe Poetically Expand Folk Rock Boundaries on ‘What About You?’

Mike & Joe blend folk and rock influences on their latest album, “What About You?” Photo by Brandon Fecteau

As modern beat poets, Mike & Joe distinctly carve new pathways to folk rock.

The Detroit-Ann Arbor first-cousin duo of Mike Benoit and Joe Provenzano etches experimental elements of dreamy psych pop soundscapes, rich retro textures and deep mystical lyricism into traditional harmonized folk rock on their second and latest album, What About You?

“Our little tagline is ‘folk rock and beyond,’ and there’s a lot of folk rock on that first record, but when you get to the second record, you hear my crazy ass solos on ‘One Trick Pony?’ We’re able to do that because we trust each other so much as songwriters, and through doing that, we arrive at what we feel is an original, seamless collaboration that’s something special,” said Provenzano, co-lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.

“If that trust and expansive, multi-genre appreciation didn’t exist in both of us, then it would be extremely stifling to our collaborative process, so that’s why we just trust each other and rock on.”

Throughout What About You?, Mike & Joe rock beyond typical folk genre boundaries and jam into new territories draped in jazzy prog, baroque pop and singer-songwriter sensibilities. They seamlessly weave a broad spectrum of folk and rock influences, including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty and My Morning Jacket, into 10 captivating, nonconformist tracks.

“They were making this music that was informed by their own enthusiastic study of history and filtering it through their own modern, original minds. It was like finding out this whole army of like-minded people existed, and they were acting, and they were doing so with power. It’s the extra torch-bearing, energizing thing that made us demand even more of ourselves and feel even more of a kindred association with those acts,” Provenzano said.

Provenzano and Benoit share this kindred association thematically through several internal struggles – heartbreak, inauthenticity, disillusionment, desensitization of violence and self-doubt – while externally chronicling their creative growth as songwriters, lyricists and musicians. Track by track, they share different emotional challenges, unearth hidden meanings and reflect poignantly on their newfound growth on What About You?

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Soulful Cleanse – Greg Paddock Overcomes Personal Struggles on ‘Cotswold’ Debut EP

Greg Paddock experiences a “heroic” moment in the U.K.’s Cotswold region.

For Greg Paddock, Cotswold’s rolling green hills, quaint stone villages and storybook cottages provide an idyllic creative retreat.

The Detroit alt rock singer-songwriter visited Oxfordshire in the picturesque southwest region of the U.K. last fall to record his six-track debut EP, fittingly titled Cotswold, with guitarist Ryan Harrison and former Dishwalla frontman J.R. Richards.

“I still have dreams about being there and walking through the pathways to the Thames River. I made such a big deal about the village they’re in because there’s a red phone booth, and it was used as a book depository. I’d walk around the village and the fields on the days I wasn’t recording and would listen to music,” said Paddock, who’s a longtime friend of the U.K.-based Richards.

“It was good to have that extra time there because we were able to do a bonus track and do the acoustic version of ‘No One Fights Alone.’ I was able to work more on ‘Sunshine Smile’ and get more into what I want to feel.”

One listen to Paddock’s Cotswold instantly drenches listeners in cathartic waves lapping against the shores of wounded souls. Released in March, the emotional EP poetically addresses internal struggles, family losses, failed relationships and personal recoveries as long, winding sonic roads that eventually lead back home.

“My hope in sharing all of it is there are people out there who hear and can relate to it in their own way. It always helps me cope when we perform the songs at one of our acoustic shows, and I can either see someone reacting in the crowd, or they talk to me afterward. I am so fortunate to be able to live my passion as well as how much it has helped me heal me,” Paddock said.

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Take Heart – Becky Crosby Chronicles Her Emotional Journey on ‘I Know,’ ‘Ghost’ Singles

Becky Crosby will release her debut EP later this year.

Becky Crosby poetically follows her heart.

The Purchase, N.Y., pop-rock singer-songwriter intuitively chronicles her emotional journey through young adulthood on two poignant, propulsive singles – “I Know” and “Ghost” – which dropped last year.

With vivid, frenzied guitar strums, radiating bass and intermittent drums, “I Know” beautifully captures a young woman’s unrequited love for someone who’s already taken. Crosby’s fiery vocals highlight that escalating intensity, “I’ll be here when you see that girl is nothing but trouble/Trouble for you and me/I’ll keep my mouth shut/Keep my eyes closed/Pretend this doesn’t hurt, baby.”

While “I Know” resembles a sudden emotional outburst, the melodic track actually simmered beneath the surface before erupting and lingering in listeners’ minds last fall. Crosby teamed up with New York guitarist Ethan Johnson to co-produce “I Know” in 2019.

“What I tend to do is write a song, and then I’ll leave it on my computer for a bit until I have an idea of how I want to pursue it,” said Crosby, 19, who attends the State University of New York (SUNY) at Purchase. “Now that I’m in college, I have a lot of friends who do production, and Ethan helped me with the writing music-wise on ‘I Know.’”

“I Know” single artwork by Lenore Hernandez

I Know” also appears on F**K THE CORONAVIRUS, a 15-track various artist project compiled by Joey Affatato, vocalist-guitarist for The Carousers, a New Jersey punk rock trio that also features Crosby’s older sister Cassidy.

Available on Bandcamp, all proceeds from the album will go directly to GlobalGiving, a large global crowdfunding community that connects nonprofits, donors and companies.

Before writing “I Know” and adding it to compilation album, Crosby penned the heartfelt, angst-filled “Ghost” as a young teen. The soaring track blends sorrowful acoustic strums with pounding percussion, vibrant electric guitars and rhythmic bass.

Again, Crosby beautifully sings about looking at life from the outside, “Part of me wishes we can turn back time/Back to when everything seemed just fine/And the leaves were falling down on the cold, soft grass/Everything was good then, but that’s why it’s the past.”

“I wrote that song when I was 14 or 15. I was going through changes that were happening in my life while starting high school,” said Crosby, who started writing songs at age 10. “When you’re that young, you’re going through changes friend-wise, and I think a lot of it was based on that.”

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Spring Fever – The Stratton Playlist April 2020 Edition Captures Carefree Spirit

This month, we’re springing forth with a new edition of “The Stratton Playlist.”

In this April Spotify compilation, you’ll feel rejuvenated with experimental jazz, timeless techno, heavy alt rock, spirited folk rock, uplifting Americana, imaginative Tom Petty renditions and bouncy hip-hop  from Michigan and other regional artists.

Featured artists include Project 206, Doogatron, Linen Ray, The Whiskey Charmers, Paddock, E-Man Bates, Mike & Joe and more. Enjoy this refreshing escape outside of daily quarantine life.

We’re also taking future submissions for upcoming editions of “The Stratton Playlist” at strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All genres are welcome.