Waiting to Exhale – Danielle Cosby Breathes Sigh of Relief on ‘Growing’

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Danielle Cosby immerses listeners in newfound relief and closure on “Growing.” Artwork – Danielle Cosby

These days, Danielle Cosby breathes a little easier.

The Nashville, Tennessee indie pop singer-songwriter slowly exhales painful emotions and experiences from the past on her latest curative single, “Growing.”

“This song is about taking a moment to reflect on and accept the journey that I traveled to get to where I am today. This song also serves as an apology to those I was forced to leave behind, or anyone I may have hurt while I was hurting,” said Cosby, who hails from Grand Rapids.

“I’ve had to forgive myself for a lot of things and let go of resentments that kept me tied to my past. ‘Growing’ is my reminder to not look back, but to press on with the full understanding that I can do hard things. It gives me a sense of empowerment and hope for the future.”

Filled with cathartic piano and hopeful bass, “Growing” beautifully immerses listeners in newfound relief and closure. As the third release in Cosby’s “Songstress” series, it’s the ideal anthem for moving forward and rediscovering your sense of self.

Cosby sings, “Gotta cry every once in a while/Write it down, sing a song, walk a mile/In my worn out shoes, from the years I spent with you.”

“‘Growing’ is actually my oldest ‘baby’ in the series. I started writing this song probably in late 2019/early 2020 before COVID and before I moved. I think it started as a hope of what the future could feel like. Kind of a ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ scenario,” said Cosby, who relocated to Nashville in July 2020.

“It sat with me, always playing in the back of my mind, but never really felt authentic and ‘true’ until I moved. Clarity is a powerful thing. Once my healing journey and my feelings kind of ‘caught up’ to the song, I was able to finish writing it, and it feels like one of my most prized possessions now.”

To realize her “Growing” vision, Cosby collaborated remotely with Los Angeles producer (and Grand Haven native) Kevin DePree and recorded the piano at Nashville’s East Iris Studios. Playing on a beautiful Bosendorfer Grand provided Cosby with additional inspiration for the track.

“It’s been such a positive and fulfilling experience working with (Kevin). I think this is my most vulnerable series of music to date, so working with someone I really trust as both a producer and a person was really important to me,” Cosby said.

“(Recording on the Bosendorfer Grand) was pretty much an out-of-body experience. It really boosted my confidence in my piano skills and felt like a gift I was granting myself. I felt really proud of myself.”

Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale – Danielle Cosby Breathes Sigh of Relief on ‘Growing’”

Personal Empowerment – Aspen Jacobsen Confronts Negative Emotions on ‘Shouldn’t Give a Damn’

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Aspen Jacobsen practices self-care on “Shouldn’t Give a Damn.” Photo – Scottie Magro

Filled with confidence and purpose, Aspen Jacobsen boldly shares a sense of personal empowerment.

The Americana-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist confronts internal guilt and fear from toxic relationships on her latest defiant single, “Shouldn’t Give a Damn.”

“I struggle with people-pleasing, and at times, have given a tremendous amount of energy to others, leaving nothing for myself and getting nothing in return,” said Jacobsen, 17, a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy.

“What inspired me to tackle toxic relationships and the effects it has on someone was through my own personal experience. I felt powerless and used, yet guilty and afraid of putting an end to an unhealthy relationship to prioritize myself.”

Jacobsen strongly channels that “Shouldn’t Give a Damn” energy as steadfast acoustic guitar, pulsating drums, fearless electric guitar and earnest fiddle create a protective barrier of fortitude.

She sings, “3 a.m. caffeine I don’t want to fall asleep/‘Cause your misted over eyes are haunting my dreams/Yes it helped me but hurt my guilty mind/Now you’re cleaning up my ashes and what’s left of your pride.”

“The first two lines … I wrote after a sleepless weekend. I had constant nightmares that left me scared to fall asleep because of feeling guilty. It was through writing this song that I had let go of the guilt and reminded myself that it’s OK to be ‘selfish’ sometimes and take care of yourself before others,” Jacobsen said.

“That is healthy, that is self-love. This song is me declaring to myself and the listener that you don’t have an obligation to give a damn for someone with whom you have a toxic relationship.”

Continue reading “Personal Empowerment – Aspen Jacobsen Confronts Negative Emotions on ‘Shouldn’t Give a Damn’”

Assemble with Care – Jon Pattie Finds Rejuvenation on ‘Pieces (IVeY Remix)’

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Jon Pattie tackles depression on “Pieces (IVeY Remix) in collaboration with Jordan “IVeY” Iverson.

Fueled by tenacity and compassion, Jon Pattie boldly rebuilds his sense of self.

The Nashville, Tennessee indie pop singer-songwriter tackles mental health struggles and adopts a renewed mindset on his latest uplifting single, “Pieces (IVeY Remix).”

“‘Pieces’ was one of the first songs I wrote when I began my career as a solo musician. Around the same time, I was struggling with depression and writing this song was a way for me to work through what I was feeling from another standpoint,” Pattie said.

“I originally released it on a demo EP and liked it so much I chose to re-release it with Andy Freeman’s and Brad Lindsay’s production behind it. When I hear it now, I feel happy and successful that I was able to relate such a dark point in my life to others in a concise and melodic way.”

Originally a cinematic pop anthem on his Reflections, Vol. II EP, Pattie transformed “Pieces” into a supercharged remix with Denver DJ-producer Jordan “IVeY” Iverson. Tender, spirited synths, fearless electric guitars, confident bass and steadfast drums cleanse the mind and rejuvenate the spirit.

Pattie sings, “She lies lonely on her side/Shedding tears through window eyes/Let me in, I’ll break apart/So we can restart.”

“It’s not only an opportunity for those struggling with depression to remember there are people who care about and support them, but also an opportunity for their friends and family to know they’re not alone,” he said. “Working through depression is difficult, but so is helping someone with depression. It helps to know we aren’t the only ones out there.”

“Like ‘Dream On,’ I wanted to remix ‘Pieces’ because it’s a very important song to me, and I felt it could use another voice. IVeY was incredible to work with. After a brief discussion of the vision I had in mind, he ran with it.”

Part of that “Pieces (IVeY Remix)” vision includes a gripping guitar solo from Pattie intertwined with IVeY’s sleek production.

“(IVeY) had the idea of adding a guitar solo to the track, which I loved that I got to solo again. Really, the entire production was IVeY’s work. I enjoy giving producers full creative liberty to let them be themselves when working with a track of mine,” said Pattie, who’s known IVeY since high school.

“The solo adds a complex, yet simple beauty to this song. It’s a very slow build with a major payoff at the end with the guitar solo. The fact that it seemingly comes out of nowhere is almost metaphorical to the confusion that depression can cause, yet the resolution goes to show it will end.”

Pattie also visually stimulates fans with a kaleidoscopic lyric video for “Pieces (IVeY Remix).” Directed by Rasel, it features brilliant neon hues morphing into people and geometric patterns along with the track.

“His use of brightly colored visuals created a stark contrast from the slow buildup of the remix. I thought it’d bring a different energy to the track, and it was a very easy process to work through,” Pattie said.

Continue reading “Assemble with Care – Jon Pattie Finds Rejuvenation on ‘Pieces (IVeY Remix)’”

Solid State – Linen Ray’s Longtime Relationship Defies Personal Obstacles on ‘Love Ain’t Easy’

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Gabriel Craft and Rebekah Craft withstand mounting challenges on Linen Ray’s “Love Ain’t Easy.” Photo – Mike Frieseman

Filled with abundant love, family and music, Linen Ray remains rock solid.

The Nashville, Tennessee married folk-rock duo of Rebekah Craft (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Gabriel Craft (drums, backing vocals) strongly withstands the mounting challenges of weather, the pandemic and personal stress on their latest bluesy, gospel-tinged single, “Love Ain’t Easy.”

“There are so many tests, and a lot of people and marriages broke up during that time. Being in a relationship is hard work,” said Rebekah Craft, an Ypsilanti native who’s been married to Gabriel Craft for 18 years.

Along with his wife, Gabriel Craft nodded in agreement. “I think the biggest challenge we faced during that whole time with the tornado and the pandemic was how suddenly things had to change. You would start to acclimate to the change, and then there was a change again.”

Back in March 2020, the Crafts encountered a deadly tornado that devastated part of Nashville just 10 days before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the nation.

Reeling from those life-changing experiences, they quickly adapted to lockdown life at home, which included virtual school, remote work and Linen Ray home studio recording sessions.

“We went through all of that, and then things started to change. We were able to leave a little bit, and the kids were back in school, but then after two weeks, somebody got COVID, and then the kids were back at home,” said Gabriel Craft, who grew up in Spring Arbor.

Despite the constant changes and lingering uncertainties, the Crafts relied on the strength of their marriage and family to focus on the future. Last fall, they penned their soulful solidarity anthem, “Love Ain’t Easy,” as a fervent tribute to lifelong love and commitment.

Continue reading “Solid State – Linen Ray’s Longtime Relationship Defies Personal Obstacles on ‘Love Ain’t Easy’”

Made to Heal – The Stratton Playlist December 2020 Edition Provides Soothing Escape

As the year (thankfully) comes to a close, we reflect on the strength, grit and willpower that slowly got us through. Together, we relied on new soothing, hopeful tracks that provided a welcome escape from the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, political rifts, grief and loss.

Uplifting, rewarding bits of indie folk, country-pop, folk rock, psych rock, shiny lo-fi soul, reggae, dreamy pop, chill hip-hop and experimental art rock demonstrate the courageous creative and emotional spirit we all share heading into 2021.

The latest edition of The Stratton Playlist provides an introspective sonic path for healing, reflection and growth. Featured musical healers and friends include Lily Milo, Meredith Shock, Mark Jewett, The Soods, Dani Darling, Joss Jaffe, Ava Panza, Blaksmith, Dirt Room and more.

Thank you for everyone who supported The Stratton Setlist in 2020. It’s an honor to feature you and the share wonderful music you create today and tomorrow. Interested in becoming part of The Stratton Playlist on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres welcome.

Present Tense – Meredith Shock Starts Anew on ‘Maybe This Isn’t Home’ Single

Meredith Shock recalls vivid memories of her hometown on “Maybe This Isn’t Home.” Artwork – Savannah Harden

Meredith Shock prefers to live in the present.

The Nashville country-pop singer-songwriter candidly reflects on outgrowing her hometown, cherishing childhood memories and finding a renewed sense of purpose on “Maybe This Isn’t Home,” a poignant, cinematic ode to new beginnings, now available on all streaming platforms.

“I went home for a long weekend for a wedding, and one of my best friends was getting married. I remember staying in my parents’ home, and I was in my shared bedroom with my sister. Everything had changed, and I was like, ‘I feel like a stranger,’ and I felt like I was a guest visiting. Nothing felt like it was mine anymore; I had to live out of my suitcase in my own bedroom,” said Shock about that memorable trip home in August 2019.

“I love my family, and I love that town, but I was missing Nashville. I felt like I was missing out on things that were happening in Nashville. I had made new friends and had new experiences here in a new environment where I now call home. I’ve created a space here that feels a lot more like home.”

Throughout “Maybe This Isn’t Home,” Shock elegantly strolls down memory lane as submerged alternating synths, shiny twirling electric guitars, intermittent electronic drums, glistening keys and calm bass recall vivid loving memories of growing up outside Washington, D.C.

She nostalgically sings, “There’s this painting in the closet that my sister did/In the bedroom that we shared since we were kids/Down the street I still remember where I had my first kiss/Holding hands under the pillows in my basement/And I walked to school until I learned how to drive/I was cheering on a team under those Friday night lights/I swear those times were golden and I can’t forget/But it’s time for me to move on and start again.”

“For me, it’s creating new memories here. When I’m singing ‘Maybe This Isn’t Home,’ all my memories have to do with that town I grew up in. Two or three of my brothers played on the football team, and I always went to the football games to support them,” Shock said.

“Those are the memories that are so my hometown; whereas here in Nashville I’ve never been to a high school football game. It’s like creating a different memory completely and having those special moments that make you feel like home. It didn’t start to feel like Nashville was home until I was here for almost two years.”

Shock started working on her latest track a year ago with Nashville producers James Robertson and Jay Tooke. Together, they spent several months recording “Maybe This Isn’t Home” and finalized it before the start of spring quarantine.

“It was really cool to work with them in the studio while they were trying to think of the best way to produce it. Normally, I just write my songs with me and my guitar, so it’s cool to hear a full track. They did a good job at making it feel nostalgic, and it doesn’t have a slow super sad song kind of vibe. You can bop your head to it,” she said.

Continue reading “Present Tense – Meredith Shock Starts Anew on ‘Maybe This Isn’t Home’ Single”

Summer Sounds – The Stratton Playlist Test-Drives New Tracks with June 2020 Edition

As summer kicks into high gear, get ready to test-drive a new batch of tunes from emerging local and regional artists.

The June edition of “The Stratton Playlist” will gain traction with grungy alt rock, lo-fi jazzy soul, inspirational pop rock, indie folk, bouncy pop punk, dancy pop, melodic prog rock, bouncy pop punk and uplifting country.

Featured artists include Random Ties, Dani Darling, Trey Simon, Mason Summit, U Might Be Mine, Anthony Retka, Louis Picasso and more. Get behind the wheel and ride into the sunset with the picture-perfect soundtrack.

Interested in becoming part of “The Stratton Playlist” on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres are welcome.

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.”

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

Divine Light – Neal Morse Explores Spirituality in ‘Jesus Christ The Exorcist’ Prog Rock Opera

Neil Morse revisits the timeless story of Jesus in his latest prog rock opera, “Jesus Christ The Exorcist.” Photo by Victor Peters

As a child, Neal Morse found a kindred spirit in Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Nashville progressive rock composer and multi-instrumentalist became instantly drawn to the 1970 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera album turned Broadway musical.

“I got it when I was 11 or 12, and I lived that album for months. That’s the way I was when I was young, I only listened to one thing at time,” said Morse, the former Spock’s Beard frontman.

Nearly 40 years later, Morse decided to write a new rock opera showcasing the Gospel at the encouragement of his friend Michael Caplan. In 2008, he embarked on a 10-year creative journey to compose and record Jesus Christ The Exorcist: A Progressive Rock Musical, a refreshing take on the timeless story of Jesus.

“At first I thought, ‘It’s been done, doing a rock musical or rock opera based on the Gospel seems like a trite thing at first,’ and then the more I thought about it, I prayed about it, I felt like, ‘Yeah, I should take a stab at it,’” Morse said.

“I’m a little bit of a one-project-at-a time guy, and so when I worked on it in 2008, I didn’t work on anything else. I only did that until it was done, and I spent about two months on it back then, and then a month demoing it. It was pretty elaborate, I had friends come in and help me sing over stuff. We worked pretty hard on the original demos because we were going to shop it as a Broadway show.”

Unfortunately, Jesus Christ The Exorcist didn’t make it to Broadway, but Morse resurrected the project and debuted it live a decade later at Morsefest, his annual two-day music festival near Nashville. By 2018, the project’s revival led to a renewed interested in releasing it.

“Michael called me up and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, I think I’ve got a record deal for this,’ and I’m like, ‘Whoa, that’s really interesting because I’m doing the rewrite now, that’s perfect,’” Morse said.

Frontiers Music srl, an independent Italian-American record label for classic rock, hard rock, prog rock and metal artists, released Jesus Christ The Exorcist as a double album for Morse last year.

With the label’s support, Morse assembled an impressive roster of vocalists and musicians for the project, including Ted Leonard (vocals), Eric Gillette (drums, guitars), Paul Bielatowicz (guitar), Nick D’Virgilio (vocals), Randy George (bass), Bill Hubauer (keys), Matt Smith (vocals), Rick Florian (vocals), Talon David (vocals) and others.

“They really brought their style to playing. There really wasn’t much that was brought to the table in the way of composition because the whole thing was already composed. It wasn’t like the collaborativeness of The Neal Morse Band, Flying Colors or Transatlantic. It was more of ‘OK, here’s the part, play it kind of thing,’ and there was a little bit of embellishing, but not a ton on this,” said Morse, who also released a new Flying Colors album, Third Degree, in October.

Continue reading “Divine Light – Neal Morse Explores Spirituality in ‘Jesus Christ The Exorcist’ Prog Rock Opera”

Long-Distance Winner – Meredith Shock Goes Beyond ‘Trial Run’ in Latest Single, Video

Meredith Shock performs in Nashville. Photo by Skylar Stierwalt

Meredith Shock elegantly tests the waters in love and life.

The Nashville country-pop singer-songwriter beautifully plunges into her latest single and live acoustic video for “Trial Run,” a heartfelt ode to long-distance relationships.

“‘Trial Run’ was a song that I wrote about a girl I’m still dating. I’m in Nashville, and she ended up being here just for the summer, and I ended up really liking her. I was like, ‘Crap, what are we gonna do because I want to keep talking to you and seeing where this goes,’” Shock said.

“One of my best friends was like, ‘Why don’t you give it a trial run or something?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, we should,’ and we started calling it a trial run, and then that just sparked the idea for the song.”

“Trial Run” single artwork by Autumn DiScala

Shock’s fervent single wraps bright intermittent synths, climbing electric guitars, clicking finger snaps and vibrant acoustic guitars into a soaring cinematic sound as she sings, “Oh, I know you’re in another state/Maybe the miles and space will give you time to think about what you need/You can give me all the excuses/I know you got your reasons/But if you’re asking me, here’s what I think.”

Initially, Shock wrote “Trial Run” as highly personal track meant solely for her partner’s ears. It started out as a raw voice memo on her phone and later morphed into mesmerizing studio and acoustic versions.

“I played it for her, and she really, really liked it. I wanted to show her how I felt, and it was directed toward her. It’s not a story, it’s really just about her. People can tell I’m singing about a specific person and not just about any experience. I’m singing to someone, which is another big thing, too,” she said.

Shock released the studio version of “Trial Run” in February and dropped a live acoustic video version for her third single today. Filmed at Nashville’s Beyond The Loops studio in December, the video features Shock performing a poignant stripped-down version of “Trial Run” with an acoustic guitar.

“When I sing live, I think there’s always a little bit more feeling rather than like a recorded produced version. I think it’s cool to see the difference between how I wrote the song with just me and my guitar versus how the song eventually played out and how it was produced,” she said.

Continue reading “Long-Distance Winner – Meredith Shock Goes Beyond ‘Trial Run’ in Latest Single, Video”