I’m a big fan of all things acoustic, so it made sense for me to turn my hat to writing a round-up review on music with acoustic elements. Some of the songs here have a more traditional guitar sound, with others having a piano as the backbone of the music, but I reckon they all fit in nicely together.
Review by Jane Howkins
Picture by Toby Kasavan
Toby Kasavan – Cosmopolitan V1
Cosmopolitan V1 is one of the more piano based songs on this list, opening up with a piano melody that mixes together moments of jazz and classical playing. Toby Kasavan’s song is more of a chilled out affair, with a fairly long runtime of 5 minutes or so. The song is an instrumental piece, displaying Toby’s piano skills off to the world, with differing motifs being added to the song, building on what has gone before.
Yana – Calm Before The Storm
Calm Before The Storm is more of a traditional folk song, with a gorgeous string section accompanying Yana’s slow acoustic guitar strums, as well as her deep vocal style. It harks back to the days of traditional folk music, also incorporating some moments of the modern folk genre, making for a lovely overall mix. Her vocals sound quite unique, but they truly work when combined with the rest of the music.
Dom Malin – Something Never Said
Dom Malin is a singer-songwriter and musician creating stripped-down folk-pop songs, as displayed in Something Never Said, which has a simplistic yet beautiful piano melody underpinning the rest of the music. His vocals exude emotion from the very start, making the entire song sound incredibly beautiful. It’s quite a slow track, but this only serves to make it sound more gorgeous throughout.
The Nation Mourns – Laura
Laura is traditional folk 101, with a gorgeous fingerpicked guitar melody kicking things off nicely. It has an incredibly fast rhythm, which makes the music sound very technically proficient – I don’t think I’ve ever heard a folk song being performed this fast, but it really works! The Nation Mourns’ vocals match the fast rhythm of the song, having a raw and haunting quality to them, which mixes nicely with the pretty acoustic guitar notes on display.
Alexander Joseph – Summertime Compass (Acoustic Version)
We’ve actually featured Alexander Joseph on these pages before, so it’s great to be able to share another track by him, this time titled Summertime Compass (Acoustic Version). As the name suggests, this is an acoustic version of the track, sounding wonderful throughout. Little upbeat guitar melodies intertwine together in lovely style, fitting the rhythm of the music well. Alexander’s vocals are on point as usual, fitting the rhythm beautifully.
Matt Saxton – It’s Alright
Matt Saxton’s vocals have an affective sound from the start of It’s Alright – they’re slightly raw sounding, but that suits the emotive nature of this pretty rootsy song well. This is a piano based track, but I don’t imagine it sounding any better with more of a focus on the guitars, as the piano really makes it stand out from the crowd. An organ appears every so often, and the chord sequence used sounds truly stunning at times.
Zak Domogalla – Moon Eyes
Zak Domogalla is a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter and touring musician, showing a great deal of musical technicality behind his songwriting style. Moon Eyes has a 50s/60s quality to it, in part due to the chord sequence and rhythm used, as well as the acoustic country-folk vibes of the song. The production quality also lends itself to this era of music, with the vocals being very prominent over the music itself.
Fritz Kahn and The Miracles – Believe
Miracles is another piano song, having a jazzy atmospheric to it that also lends itself somewhat to the musical theatre scene. Fritz Kahn and The Miracles song is hauntingly beautiful from the very beginning, featuring a soaring vocal range and a lovely selection of strings that appear shortly after the song starts. The lyrics are full of longing and yearning, making you really feel the emotion contained within the vocals.
Stacey Jackson – Flipside
As well as being a musician, Stacey Jackson is also a TV presenter, showing that she is a woman of many talents! Flipside features a flowing piano melody that sounds stunning in its beauty, especially when mixed with the string section that accompanies it. Stacey’s vocals soar across the song, having a lovely clear tone to them as they float over the rest of the music, with some pretty backing vocals oozing like a gospel choir in the background.
Ashton York – Awful Time
Awful Time has a lovely dreamy quality to it, in part due to the way in which the vocals are used, reminded me a little of Elliott Smith’s work. A pretty guitar line follows the vocals, with a string section appearing shortly after, adding a haunting sense of beauty to the music. A faint piano motif is added to Ashton York’s song every so often, with the minimalist quality of the piano making it sound even more beautiful.
The Art Crimes Band – If Only (Piano Bar Version)
The Art Crimes Band are a group from Cork, with If Only (Piano Bar Version) being a little different from a lot of the other songs on this list, due to its jazzy stylings. It certainly does sound like a piano bar song, with a lone piano motif running through the music as its main instrumentation, alongside the impressive jazz vocals. There’s something very soulful about the entire thing, so make sure you don’t skip it!
BREGN – Summertime
Summertime has a mystical and ethereal quality from the very start, partly due to the way in which BREGN uses his stunning vocals. They sound very dreamy, with a few effects added along the way to make them sound as though they’re drifting alongside the music like the breeze. Multiple acoustic guitar lines vie for attention, also having a rhythmic quality to them, being the main percussion on the piece.
The Lost Trades – Daffodils
Daffodils has a lovely upbeat quality from the very start, sounding very positive throughout, making for a nice change from some of the more down-tempo tracks on this list. The Lost Trades have created a wonderful folk song with its roots being in the Americana/bluegrass movement, featuring some beautiful vocal harmonies on the chorus, with the lead vocals also sounding amazing. The main guitar melody stays similar throughout, although the note sequence is perfectly crafted to sound naturally brilliant.
HAGNÄS – Kuutamolla
I actually featured HAGNÄS here fairly recently, so it’s amazing to be able to hear another beautiful song, this time titled Kuutamolla. It’s sung in her native tongue, with her soft vocal style working well with the simplistic guitar melodies. The tension slowly builds up over the course of the piece, with what sounds like a double bass being added at one point, adding another textural instrumental aspect to this haunting piece.
David Ellis – Down In The Hollow
The guitar melodies on Down In The Hollow stand out immediately, due to how gorgeous they sound. A couple of different guitar lines overlap with each other, providing a nice intro to the music until David Ellis’ soft vocals appear. A unique percussion section appears every so often and it’s one of those tracks that you’ll have to listen to a few times to fully be able to appreciate everything, with little percussive flourishes and hidden backing vocals coming out of the blue at times.