Today’s Top 5: New/Recent Singles

My plan for today’s post was a simple one: Recap the Courtney Marie Andrews concert we took in Wednesday night in Carrboro, NC. The last time we saw the singer-songwriter was when we lived up north, in 2018, on the heels of her expansive May Your Kindness Remain LP, and as good as that show was, this one was incredibly better. But a funny thing happened between then and now: I pushed play on Maggie Pope’s new single, “Northern Girl.”

As I wrote a while back, I discovered the Philly folksinger quite by accident earlier this year—long after I should have, in fact. This sweet song, inspired by her grandmother, is built atop a gentle refrain on the banjo and features her wondrous vocals buttressed by fellow folkie Brad Hinton’s sweet harmonies. If I played it once yesterday, I played it a dozen times (in between many listens to the new Neil Young & Crazy Horse album). I sometimes write about how, on first listen, some songs and albums feel like they’ve been with me forever and a day. Such is the case here.

Hers wasn’t the only single released yesterday, however. koleżanka, whose Place Is album I reviewed last year, shared “Slapstick,” the second teaser track from her forthcoming album, Alone With the Sound the Mind Makes. The song explores the trials and tribulations that service workers face: “It is hard to be kind to yourself in a world that isn’t kind to you.” The song starts small with a syncopated, synth-driven beat but expands in scope fairly quickly; it’s quite hypnotic and bodes well for the LP in full.

British R&B singer Natalie Duncan, who I discovered via the pages of Mojo and Uncut a decade back, has a new digital 45 out, too—“Let Go Release.” It’s a soulful ode that, if there was any justice in this world, would top the pop charts. It’s simultaneously old- and new-school R&B, jazz-tinged and just plain great.

Speaking of soul and pop: Southern Avenue recently released a cover of “That’s All,” the long-ago Genesis hit. In 1983-84, when the original version was climbing the charts, I was a college freshman who ignored Phil Collins and Co.; I still do, to be frank. (Nothing personal, Phil!) But the song becomes much less annoying—even, dare I say, catchy—when the soulful Tierinii Jackson handles the lead vocals.

Back to folk: On her latest single, Welsh singer-songwriter Edie Bens weaves elements of folk, country and pop into “Cashmere Sweaters,” which calls out an old beau for moving in a life direction he always swore to avoid.

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