Premiere: Hollan – Wild Man

I listen through our submissions whilst working, few waking me from my inertia. I still remember hearing Hollan’s music for the first time, having to push my chair away from the desk and sink into the fabric of my chair. This is the moment I’d been waiting for; this makes working through all the chaff worth it. Anna Manotti’s (Hollan) vocal could’ve come from any era, its deep reverence subsuming you whole, whilst her songs sound as if they’d sprung from the soil, the early recordings of Adrianne Lenker whirring round my mind. 

Latest single ‘Wild Man’ sees Manotti confront the reality of a break-up after returning home from vacation. “I was warring with my mind, struggling with my mental health and I felt an urgency that I needed to be rescued from the state I was in. During those couple of hours of feeling the rawness of life in a dark moment, I realised that a part of me and my soul will never be completely present. A part of me will always be somewhere else, somewhere better, somewhere right. And sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can go there”. 

Manotti’s words are so rich that she ensures you come along too. The scorched grass, the fading blue of the pick-up truck, the flower hanging from one’s mouth appearing in stunning high definition. “Somewhere I’m with you / Riding through the tall grass / And my feet are dangling out the back” she sings in the chorus, its beauty making you feel like you could keel over in front of your speakers. There’s a mourning, a sense of regret perhaps to her voice not distilled by the arrival of strings and swelling percussion. The ambiguity of her words steal you away from the day-to-day as you comprehend why the words “you know I carry rain” make you fall apart every single time. 

Whenever I listen to Manotti I imagine I’m watching her live. Stood in the crowd, my eyes are closed, the words to her songs escaping from my mouth though I have no awareness that I am singing.  The thought of it makes me feel warm. 

‘Wild Man’ is out Saturday 14 March

Five Right Now: The Innocence Mission

Husband-and-wife duo The Innocence Mission released their 11th album, ‘See You Tomorrow’, on 17 January. In our ‘Album of the Week’ review, we said: “‘See You Tomorrow’ is an affront to the division politicians and news agencies seek to incite within us, a head-shakingly beautiful testament to the fears and dreams that live within us all, no matter our skin colour, our birthplace or our gender.” Read the full review here.

Today Karen and Don Peris drop by to tell us about five current artists they admire. Check out their choices below:

Karen’s selections:

Tiny Ruins- Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens

Even if just for the title, I would love this song by Hollie Fullbrook. But the song itself is amazing and is a world you can enter and walk around inside of.  Another endearing song of many, from Some Were Meant For Sea, is Cat in the Hallway. 

Junip-  Line of Fire

We have been listening to Jose Gonzales for the past few years and could mention many of his songs, and our admiration for his complex rhythmic, low guitar patterns, but one of the most compelling is Line of Fire, recorded with his band Junip. The emotional impact of this song doesn’t seem to diminish over time-  I always feel affected by it. 

Stolen Violin – Temperate Touch, Tropical Tears

Jordan Ireland has written such emotionally resonant songs, that seem to come attached with their own mysterious small worlds. His album as Stolen Violin was our introduction to his music, found on Bandcamp after hearing one of the songs on radio. It was immediately captivating, with a unique kind of beauty and warmth, especially the songs World of Sun and New Amnesia Skies. A few years on I found the song Blood, by the Middle East, which I listened to on repeat for some days, and I was amazed to discover that this song was from the same person. Not only this, but with the Stolen Violin album I had also found a person who loves reverb even more than I do.

Don’s selections: 

Bill Fay – Salt of the Earth

 I love the simplicity of Bill Fay’s 21st century hymn for those “hidden from view, known by their deeds, the salt of the earth…that only the Lord knows.” Bill sings the song like he knows them too and celebrates their worth with a tender sureness.  

Angelo De Augustine – Swim Inside the Moon

Over lunch in early 2018, my old friend Denison Witmer gave me a CD of the record Swim Inside the Moon by Angelo de Augustine. The CD stayed in my car player on repeat until my parked car got hit and demolished earlier this year. One of the last items I retrieved from the dash before the car was carried off was this CD. He has a sound that makes me want to pick up my guitar and write.

‘See You Tomorrow’ is out now on Bella Union

Album of the Week: The Innocence Mission – See You Tomorrow

The Innocence Mission’s ‘See You Tomorrow’ is an affront to the division politicians and news agencies seek to incite within us, a head-shakingly beautiful testament to the fears and dreams that live within us all, no matter our skin colour, our birthplace or our gender. On their 11th and perhaps strongest record yet, Pennsylvania husband-and-wife duo, Karen & Don Peris thrust an outstretched hand through your speaker, inviting you to hold it and share in its warmth, to acknowledge the likeness of its’ skin and crevices, to acknowledge that at the root of it all we’re just humans striving and surviving every day.

Sitting on her piano in the dining room of her family home, Karen created songs for people of all walks of life, mothers desiring to shelter their children from the evils of the world all the while knowing they can’t, people of a quiet nature who are often misunderstood or labelled unfairly, people suffering with the scourge of loneliness, people who more than anything want to be loved. 

“As time goes on, I suppose we keep looking more toward connectedness, and feeling more gratitude though also more challenge about life and wanting to find a language to define it somehow and wondering how others experience it,” says Karen. “The thought that these are universal concerns makes me feel more drawn to write songs, to join in a conversation, even though the conversation itself is sometimes about being at a loss for words.”

Words are inadequate when it comes to explaining the innumerable ranges of human emotions and experiences. Peris doesn’t try to steal the wonder which that inspires and in turn that wisdom makes her lyricism especially relatable. “Don’t feel we are different / when these things will make us cry / though we don’t know how to say why”, Karen sings on the awestriking ‘We Don’t Know How to Say Why’. Sufjan Stevens has previously praised the economy of Karen’s words and ‘See You Tomorrow’ is littered with phrases – “And don’t I know it”, “this day is going”, “see you tomorrow” – that manage to be simple, ambiguous and incredibly meaningful at the same time. 

Peris’ words are enclosed within meandering, bolstering piano keys or gentle plucks of the guitar. The tracks are brittle, like straw houses threatened by gale force winds. They’re all undeniably distinct though, with time you’ll greet the opening notes with an exhale of recognition, the kind of sound that escapes when a band you’re watching start playing the song you’ve been waiting for all night. 

In this moment of popularism and the emboldening of the far right, we have to hold on against our better instincts, we have to seek out others fighting against the tide, we have to make people see that the late MP Jo Cox was right when she said, “there’s more that unites than divides us”. ‘See You Tomorrow’ is a monument to the universality of human experience. Kneel at its altar.  

‘See You Tomorrow’ is out Friday 17 January on Bella Union

New song: The Innocence Mission – On Your Side

The Innocence Mission’s ‘Green Bus’ was arguably 2018’s best song; the resulting album ‘Sun On The Square’ was pretty flawless too. The Pennsylvania trio have just announced a prompt follow-up, ‘See You Tomorrow’ which comes out January 17. And if lead single ‘On Your Side’ is anything to go by, it’s set to be as affecting and heart-breaking as ever.

Written about how those who have passed still live on beside us, chief songwriter Karen Peris’ describes this phenomenon with typically economic words. “I’m always on your side / I’m always on your side” she sings, impersonating a loved one speaking to her from the beyond. At first, her brittle voice is accompanied just by the plucks of her guitar until resplendent strings and wood percussion add power to the song’s main declaration. Other than a swelling conclusion, ‘On Your Side’ just flips between those two states, always doing enough but never too much. “In my dream, I would be in Paris with my mom,” Peris sings. “In cafes she would sip coffee, she would be smiling on/ She’d say, ‘I have never let you out of my sight. I have not gone.’”  Music doesn’t get much better than this. 

‘See You Tomorrow’ is out January 17 on Bella Union