Second Spin – Brad Phillips Gives ‘Dance Again’ Another Whirl as Debut Songwriting Single

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Brad Phillips features a violin orchestra on his latest single, “Dance Again.” Photo courtesy of Brad Phillips

Brad Phillips never imagined his song “Dance Again” from Willow Run would take on a whole new life.

The Americana singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist revived the initial stripped-down track from the 2018 World War II era play and transformed it into a sweeping, cinematic ballad.

“The song was only two verses with a chorus and was performed with only voice and a simple, lonely acoustic guitar part. There was a lot of anguish and longing at its core at that point,” said Phillips, who’s from Dexter and teaches at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

“Since then, there has been another verse added, and the arrangement grew quite dramatically. The instrumentation of this new version is several layers of both acoustic and electric guitars, piano, bass, percussion, background vocals and a violin orchestra.”

Out Feb. 10, “Dance Again” soars and flourishes as Phillips’ debut songwriting single. As a longtime sideman, he’s spent most of his musical career playing acoustic guitar, mandolin and violin with Michigan-based artists, including Jeff Daniels, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, The Verve Pipe and May Erlewine.

“For years, I had wanted to be a songwriter, but I could never get out of my own way enough to let it happen. It wasn’t until I was given permission to be and encouraged to be exactly who I am that I was able to let the music in my heart flow freely,” Phillips said.

“I think I always wanted to share this song with the world beyond its place in Willow Run. This song really represents one of those rare moments in creativity in which it feels like someone else wrote it, and I was simply the conduit through which it was transmitted.”

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Mood Music – Bart Moore Creates Folky, Dystopian World on ‘Graveyards Wind & War’ Album

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Bart Moore embarks on a storied folk journey through history and beyond on “Graveyards Wind & War.” Photo – Jen Hovey

In early 2020, Bart Moore tried to see the bright side of the pandemic.

The Grand Ledge, Michigan alt-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist noticed a burning desire to write new material and responded with a creative zeal. Instead, an unexpected feeling emerged.

“It’s interesting to me how everything is kind of shaped by the mood of the pandemic. When I would write a song, I would think, ‘This is pretty dystopian. I’d better write something that’s a little bit brighter,’” Moore said.

“Then, I would write another song, and it would turn out to be also kind of dystopian. I was like, ‘Wow, this is kind of a recurring theme here.’ It was hard to get out of that kind of dark tone to the songs.”

That dark tone produced Moore’s new otherworldly album, Graveyards Wind & War, which embarks on a storied folk journey through history and beyond.

Throughout his latest release via Nature Boy Records, Moore seamlessly transports listeners to Gettysburg, Dublin and San Francisco while encountering the spirits of Winfield Scott Hancock, Chris Cornell and “Marcelena.”

Immersed in acoustic introspection, Graveyards Wind & War’s memorable tales also land at the intersection of fantasy and reality and explore the possibilities of the future.

“That definitely influenced the content … the whole pandemic thing and going into the 2020 election thinking, ‘Good God, what fate is in store for us, depending on how this all goes?’ That fear and that tension were there,” said Moore, who expressed concern about the likelihood of another Trump-era administration.

“If I’m going to suffer through this, then I’m going to at least get some good music out of it. This is gonna inspire some good writing and push me to be as eloquent as I can be to write about this stuff or just get my thoughts out there.”

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Perfectly Imperfect – Rin Tarsy Celebrates Life’s Contradictions on ‘Paradox’

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Rin Tarsy embarks on an emotional and spiritual quest of self-discovery on “Paradox.” Photo – Justin Snavely

For Rin Tarsy, life is filled with beautiful contradictions and imperfections.

The Grand Rapids folk singer-songwriter and guitarist embraces authenticity, yet re-examines her purpose on the aptly titled album, Paradox.

“For a while, people would ask, ‘What’s the theme of Paradox?’ And for a while, I didn’t know. Finally, it dawned on me one time when I was listening through all the tracks – it’s about self-trust and self-discovery,” said Tarsy, who grew up in Portland and started singing in church.

“I hope all these songs make sense together, and I really like them, but I wasn’t sure if they did. It’s comforting and scary at the same time. Are these thoughts ever gonna go away? Am I always gonna be questioning everything? Maybe I will.”

Tarsy’s lingering questions slowly spark an emotional and spiritual quest of self-discovery on Paradox that spans several years. Each poetic track celebrates intuition and explores emotion.

“The first songs I wrote for this album – ‘Stay,’ ‘Dear Heart’ and ‘Suitcase’ – were in the summer of 2016 after I got back from Africa. It was the first time I had examined who I was when I took away all of the pursuits that I had and the things I had wanted to go after,” said Tarsy, who visited Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia.

“At the time, I had asked myself, ‘Who am I if those things don’t go exactly the way I want? Or if my idealisms of what they could be don’t match up with the reality of what they actually are?’”

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Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single

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Hannah Baiardi’s “Reason” single inspires listeners to embrace their authentic voice and rediscover a sense of purpose. Artwork – Abby Clemens

Immersed in sophisticated jazzy soul-pop sensibilities and refreshing, colorful sonic textures, Hannah Baiardi beautifully steps outside her comfort zone.

The Ann Arbor vocalist-composer and pianist provides a calm, soulful reassurance to embrace our authentic voice and rediscover our true calling on her latest hopeful single, “Reason.” It’s her first new material since releasing her genre-bending album, Straight from the Soul, in March.

“There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders right now, but it’s also a very inspiring time. Lightworkers are individuals who come with a purpose and are very driven to make social change and be their true selves and not hide their identities out of fear or shame,” Baiardi said.

“I was blown away when I got responses from other musicians saying, ‘Hey, that really resonated with me and made me feel like you’re standing up for the underdog.’ That’s totally my whole MO, even from being in high school and resonating with clique-busting and trying to be a friend to the friendless.”

Throughout “Reason,” shimmering piano, spirited drums, luminous slide guitar, fervent finger snaps, smooth electric bass and Baiardi’s confident vocals drench listeners in a sultry, protective dreamscape while inspiring a renewed, united social consciousness.

Once inside her encouraging, hypnotic sonic realm, Baiardi thoughtfully sings, “You never fit in/Stood out from the crowd/You waited you turn/Took courage to speak out loud/But now’s your time/You have to see/Your worth.”

“If someone feels alone or thinks it’s a really tough period of time … know there are others out there who see them and want to champion them. We’re all in this mess together while riding the waves. Water and waves are a theme in the song, and I’m trying to incorporate more sounds with nature and more sounds that evoke a feeling of tranquility,” Baiardi said.

Baiardi magically creates a peaceful “Reason” atmosphere with producer Marty Gray and bassist Ryan King of Stormy Chromer. Together, Baiardi and Gray spent two to three months recording the track in the studio for a late summer release.

“The rough melody and rough sketch of the lyrics came over a couple of weeks. The magic really happened when I brought it to Marty, and I was introduced to him through a mutual friend, David Magumba,” Baiardi said.

“We knew each other from the University of Michigan, where we were both students. Our paths didn’t really cross because he was a vocal major and I was a jazz major. We got together to work on this track, and instantaneously there was this sense of creative synergy. I came with the bones and left with a wonderful song, thanks to Marty.”

Baiardi also translates “Reason” into a gray-tinged lyric video filled with placid, flowing waters. While watching the video, viewers float above and reflect on their personal challenges as snippers of white light permeate the screen.

“The grayness of it conveys the uncertainty of the murky waters that we’re in right now. My social media manager Melissa (Zhuang) played a huge role in helping me craft that, and she’s very adept with Adobe,” said Baiardi, who’s also working on a new video for “How Do You Want Your Love.”

“I was like, ‘Hey, we just need water and some gray, so run with it.’ I think lyric videos are powerful so that someone can contemplate as they’re watching the visual element.”

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