Having found cult success with underground comedy folk group Hayseed Dixie, John Wheeler has already discovered that his unusual brand of tongue in cheek songwriting has a solid audience. Looking to build on that foundation while exploring his own style, Wheeler has in recent years worked on developing a solo sound away from the band.
His first album showed a confident songwriter who didn’t rely on a narrow folk genre and twisted cover versions to string together a strong collection of tracks (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And with his second solo outing ‘Difficult #2 Album’, Wheeler further explores a newfound love of piano and develops his solo voice further.
The album is out now from all the usual digital outlets, and you can also find John Wheeler on tour in the UK over the next few weeks. If you enjoy roots music with a twisted sense of humour, his is a live show that comes highly recommended.
As a big fan of Ronnie Lane, when Pete Townshend heard that folk singer Des Horsfall was writing a three album collection in tribute to the Small Faces legend he knew he had to get involved.
With the first of the three albums already released, the second, ‘The Bastard’s Tin’, is out early next year. It will be well worth checking out, full of rootsy tales and thoughts on the life and career of Ronnie Lane.
Before that comes the single ‘Chameleon’. Released on December 11th, the track offers Townshend his chance to lend his vocal and songwriting skills to the project. It makes for a unique combination, and a lovely taster for the album to come.
The national singing competition TeenStar has found its latest winner! Joining a long line of prestigious Future Music competition winners, Rachel Ann from Bournemouth, Dorset has been crowned the champion of the national TeenStar competition at The NEC in Birmingham!
Singing Competition Winner
Rachel Ann was crowned champion in front of a capacity crowd and a prestigious music industry judging panel at The NEC in Birmingham on Saturday night. Her unique performance of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” won over the competition industry judges making her the overall winner of TeenStar. She will now be offered a recording and development deal including a £5,000 advance to spend on the development of her music.
The national singing competition is brought to you by Future Music – the company behind the discovery of artists such as such as Luke Friend and Karen Hardy both of which have had chart success this year, Jacob Banks, Warner Music’s Birdy, Columbia Record’s Lucy Spraggan, Union J’s Jaymi Hensley and Jahmene Douglas, both of which are now signed to Sony Music.
Music industry judges at the National Singing Competition Grand Final
After impressing the judging panel at the auditions, Rachel Ann battled against more than 9,000 acts who entered for TeenStar this year across the UK. She went on to perform in the TeenStar live showcases, battling through both Regional and Area Final heats to make it to the national Grand Final.
The judging panel for the Grand Final included record label representatives from Universal, as well representatives from music management companies, recording studios, professional musicians, national press representatives and the examination board, Rock School.
Rachel Ann has now won a comprehensive consultation package with Future Music, an extensive winner’s publicity package, and an amazing £5,000 advance to spend on the development of her music. On winning the prizes Rachel said, “I’m literally speechless, overjoyed with happiness. Thank you to everyone for all the support!”
Chris Grayston, Head Judge and Director of Future Music has said, “Rachel Ann has been a stand out act throughout the TeenStar competition. Her unique vocal range and emotive performances make her a clear winner!” Check out more information about the TeenStar Champion on the website here.
Future Music is also about to start singing auditions for Open Mic UK, find more information and enter music competition Open Mic UK now. Also check out the Future Music Songwriting Contest, which is specifically for songwriters of any age and genre.
Chris Hornsby is a folk songwriter who works to write songs which, in his own words, ‘have the smell of leaves and mud about them’. This approach, achieved by recording each instrument with as simple a set up as possible, gives rise to new EP ‘Human, Too Human’ which includes the delightful track above.
Full of this kind of rustic, folky charm, the EP is one of those quiet releases which can really get under your skin. Each track is relatively simple in message, mostly centered around the everyday. But the complexity and subtleties of how they build is something that grows in appreciation with each listen.
See for yourself, when ‘Human, Too Human’ is released on May 22nd.
It only runs to about three and a half minutes, but that’s long enough to know that new folk trio Narrow Plains are not messing about. New single ‘So Rewind’ is sharp, focussed, well executed and (most of all) fun.
It takes skill to create a song that sounds so easy and off the cuff and then craft it into a top recording without sanding off the edges and excitement. That’s what Narrow Plains have done here. With the UK and US currently on the crest of a folk and country wave, the timing couldn’t be better for Narrow Plains.
So, if you’re a fan of all those in vogue singer songwriters and folk groups (as I am), Narrow Plains should have just made your list.
Josh Healey is set to release his new EP Lost, Found & Lost Again on the 27th October and is already getting national radio play for it.
The lead track, Sometimes, starts the EP with a very relaxing and laid back feel, the acoustic guitar very subtle in the background with the vocals carrying the song. There is a hint of folk in the song which carrys the song very well, breaking the song up between verses. Tom Robinson of BBC 6 Music has already been playing this track which is huge statement to how well written this track is to start off the EP.
A more upbeat track to follow with People Like You, a song to tap your feet to but a very strong message in the lyrics of the song about society today. The song helps the EP along after the lead track to show that Josh can write powerful upbeat music with strong underlining messages and make it work with more soft acoustic songs.
City of Saints has a beautiful finger picked intro that carries the song and shows off Josh’s talent on the acoustic guitar. A simple song of just Josh and his acoustic guitar in very stripped down and raw track. The title track Lost, Found & Lost Again closes the EP perfectly. The intro of acoustic guitar and piano which play throughout give the perfect accompaniment to Josh’s soft vocals in a very heartfelt track to close the EP.
Josh’s beautiful subtle tones have already been compared favourably with the legendary Nick Drake, which can’t be bad!
If you want to listen to the EP you can have a listen on SoundCloud here
The EP Lost, Found & Lost Again is available for pre order now on iTunes here.