The San Francisco indie-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist deftly uncovers and deciphers a multitude of emotional traumas, violent conflicts, racial injustices and political tensions on his insightful debut album.
“It was gonna be called ‘Dreaming of Guns’ based on that one song. At some point, somebody else recommended another title, and I tried that for a little while, but that didn’t quite resonate,” Newman said.
“And then Scott (Mickelson) and I were talking about it, and I said, ‘What if I just called it What Am I Afraid Of? ’ Then, the two of us went, ‘Oh my God, of course, that’s what everything’s about.’”
For Newman, “everything” serves as an umbrella of personal and societal challenges ranging from everyday anxieties to teen suicide to homelessness to gun violence. The album’s 11 gripping tracks provide a poignant wake-up call for the nation to strongly unite, take action and instill change.
“The thing about this album is essentially the same paradigm that’s kind of dictated my entire life,” he said. “I don’t exactly know what’s happening until I look in the rear-view mirror and go, ‘That happened.’”
Filled with emotion and adventure, Eric Ripper rides the wave of new possibilities.
The Ferndale, Michigan acoustic pop-rock singer-songwriter boldly journeys through the peaks and valleys of growth, love and aspiration on his latest revelatory album, Wavelength.
“I traveled out to Utah to start this project, worked on it while I was out there and continued it after coming back. I’ve seen many beautiful things and spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts,” Ripper said.
“Those thoughts come together when you finally sit down with a guitar in hand. I’ve learned that I need time to write and need to explore myself if I am to continue writing and producing music.”
With self-discovery top of mind, Ripper soars alongside Wavelength’s exploratory lyrics, radiant acoustic guitars and ambient soundscapes. The album’s nine contemplative tracks instantly invite listeners to accompany Ripper on his introspective, cathartic odyssey.
“Traveling is a big part of my inspiration as well as having good and bad life experiences. All elements toward this album have been therapeutic: writing, producing, recording and releasing – all of it,” he said.
“I feel as if I’m sharing a big side of me with others on this release, and I just hope people can hear the work and dedication put into it. Everyone is growing as a person … they all have their own direction. I’m riding this wavelength, and I hope others can hear their purpose and find themselves.”
Allye Gaietto candidly shares an internal monologue with her younger self.
The Detroit indie folk-pop singer-songwriter and pianist reconciles past expectations, relationships and interactions on her perceptive new album, Hoping for More, which drops Aug. 26.
“It’s so much discovering of who you are, what your beliefs are and where you stand on all sorts of different things. I think, for a lot of us, our identity is about who’s around us and how we interact with people and how they see us,” said Gaietto about previous life experiences in her early 20s.
“I think for this record there are a lot of things … like I had my first serious relationship and then got dumped for the first time, and that’s one of the songs on the album. That was huge for me.”
With Hoping for More, Gaietto provides a huge release of deeply buried emotions that still feel tender and raw. Whether encountering relief, heartache or courage, she beautifully documents those experiences through contemplative lyrics, haunting melodies and lush instrumentation.
“It’s this funny contrast of me trying to reconcile like, ‘What do you think about me? What do I think about you? How do we feel about each other?’ with friendships, romantic relationships and parent relationships,” said Gaietto, who also released the single, “I Guess I Don’t,” earlier this year.
“After the album was finished, the new stuff I’ve been writing … sometimes I have to put myself back in that early 20s, new relationship mindset because it’s a goldmine for feelings and content.”
The Brighton, Michigan country-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist shares hopeful tales of navigating life’s seasonal changes on her adventurous new album, When the Sun Comes Shining Through.
“There’s a lot of movement, and there’s a lot of leaving one state and going into another state. I write from listening to life and listening to myself, and that’s just what was there,” Thoburn said.
“It’s somebody who’s able to look back and be here, yet still be able to bring some perspective, hopefulness and realism, too. The journey continues, and if you’re really going to live this life and be here, you have to be awake to the journey.”
On When the Sun Comes Shining Through, Thoburn deeply embraces a pictorial journey filled with lonesome AM radio, cherry red vans, summer berries, Mississippi tributaries, bright wings and Avalon forests. Each radiant track leaves a lasting imprint on the heart and soul of bygone eras and unread chapters.
“A lot of 2022 has been getting this album ready to launch … and I keep thinking COVID is over, and the sun comes shining through, and then COVID keeps coming back,” she said with a laugh. “This album is like leaving COVID, and it’s like going from winter and heading into spring.”
The Barcelona, Spain indie-pop singer-songwriter and guitarist thoughtfully addresses unanswered questions, lingering uncertainties and changing relationships on her latest contemplative single, “Over.”
“It just happened, and it wasn’t really autobiographical because I wasn’t dating anyone at that point,” said June, who’s currently an art history and political science senior at the University of Michigan.
“It’s interesting, with so many of my songs, they just kind of happen, and the ability to write ‘Over’ without having felt it personally … I genuinely don’t know where that came from.”
Throughout “Over,” a tranquil symphony of pensive electric guitar, hopeful cello, crashing cymbals and thunderous drums infuses June with newfound strength and confidence.
She sings, “I can’t help but to let you know/That this is more than intended/I never meant to let you go/I said I loved you and I meant it/It isn’t over just cause you say it is/I’d like to tell you where my ending begins.”
“With the guitar pattern, I knew that I wanted a message, and I wanted it to be really restated. The verses are structurally the same, but obviously lyrically different,” June said.
“The choruses are different, and as that desperation nears the end, that’s when the music starts building up, and the cello gets stronger, and the drums come in. The drums are almost cacophonic, and I wanted them to be loud … like something’s breaking, and it’s not in your control to mend it.”
“Ethan pushed me to try new things. In the first session, he was giving me auto-tune vocoders that sounded like T-Pain, and I was like, ‘What is this? This is awesome!’ It was such an awesome experience to see it evolve with the mindset of someone who’s really different,” said June, who recorded the track at Ethan Matt’s home studio in mid-February.
“It’s really just a close-knit community of people who are always willing to help. It’s so incredible because you can be like, ‘Oh, I need a trombone,’ and you have like 70 people available.”
The Flint indie-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist aptly evolves and shifts with changing relationships on his latest introspective EP, When the Good Starts to Fade.
“With this group of songs, there are definitely some huge life changes taking place. You’re arriving at a different point whether it’s literally or figuratively and are unsure where to go from there,” Solis said.
“There’s a big theme around friendships … you have to acknowledge that sometimes you outgrow people or maybe they outgrow you.”
Those keen observations thoughtfully address past connections and anticipate future ones across three astute tracks. For Solis, When the Good Starts to Fade acknowledges the nuances and notions that slowly arise as one chapter ends and another begins.
“A lot of times I compartmentalize these ideas, thoughts and processes into a time when I can finally let it out,” he said. “After the songs are written, it’s almost therapy in a way … you don’t always know that you feel or think a certain way about something until you are given that space to say it freely.”
For Mike Ward, a new album chronicles a thoughtful evolution of sound.
The Detroit Americana singer-songwriter carefully transforms a dozen acoustic tracks into an earnest collection of expansive tales on Particles to Pearls.
“I think the first track we added any instruments to was ‘All We Have Are Words.’ David Roof played the electric guitar on it, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s what this can sound like.’ I’d been playing that by myself for two years,” said Ward about his third Psychosongs album.
“Because it’s been two years since I wrote most of those songs, and that’s right about now, every day on Facebook there’s a memory of the song, and I get to hear how I first wrote it.”
During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, Ward penned 31 new tracks as part of a 30 Songs in 30 Days songwriting challenge with New York City folk-rock singer-songwriter Paul Winfield. The poignant tracks opened his creative floodgates and pushed him deeper into the songwriting trenches.
“They’re all moments in time. The album has a number of those songs,” Ward said. “I’m pretty happy with the end results. David Roof plays bass on everything, but he also plays a 12-string Rickenbacker electric guitar on ‘Back Again.’ We wanted a Byrds/Roger McGuinn-style sound on it.”
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.”
The Royal Oak indie-rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist calmly exhales former selves and bygone relationships in her latest heart-melting single, “Winter Ghost.”
“The writing of this song was a cool experience for me. Last winter, I tried writing a song a day for a while to challenge myself,” DeRousse said. “This song came from that. It was snowing outside, and I got the first line in my head … ‘It snowed today.’”
Throughout “Winter Ghost,” DeRousse thaws frozen memories and warms icy self-doubt as ethereal synths, pensive electric guitar and sanguine acoustic guitar prompt a spiritual awakening.
She sings, “I saw the sun today/It’s mid-July, and now I’m feeling the weight of you wash away/White was the world in my heartbreak/And pale as snow was my skin while the ghost of you remained/Saw the color come back into my face.”
“And then I thought, ‘Why would someone not like the snow?’” DeRousse said. “Then, as it all came together, I was like, ‘This is definitely an experience that I’ve had in my life, but the details are different,’ and yet the theme is still the same.”
DeRousse seamlessly carries “Winter Ghost’s” transformational theme forward while Traverse City producer John Piatek conjures an otherworldly soundscape.
“When I go up and record, and by the time I make it home, John has sent me something. I remember he had sent me the rough track of it … and I listened to it, and I was just floored,” she said.
“The vocals that he adds on that track are my favorite part of the whole song. It felt like, ‘Wow, this is how it was supposed to always be,’ but I could have never gotten it there myself.”
Whether it’s summertime visits, thumb-less mittens or minivan jams, Chain of Lakes instantly finds himself at home.
The Alto, Michigan indie-folk singer-songwriter openly recounts personal tales of heartwarming comfort and raw vulnerability on his introspective new album, Catch.
“As an overarching theme of my writing, I’m always going to write autobiographically from where I am a lot,” said Kyle Rasche, aka Chain of Lakes. “That’s not a big stretch, especially since everyone’s only been home for the last two years. I’m sure there’s been an exclamation point behind some of those themes.”
Throughout Catch, Rasche shares a 37-minute, visceral response to life lessons across 11 tender Chain of Lakes tracks. As a son, husband and father, he dedicates an emotive craft to past and present family members who embody honesty and courage.
“You’re taking home with you, and it’s what you hope your kids do. You want nothing more than for them to have the confidence to leave and explore and see it and do everything,” said Rasche, who has three daughters.
“Then, you hope they’ll never do it because you’ll miss them so much. You want to raise them up to be confident, strong women who aren’t afraid of anything.”