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Saturday, March 20, 2021

New releases from Amy Helm, The Lone Bellow, Said the Whale, Mansionair, Stevie Redstone

Amy Helm: Breathing

This single is the first taste from What the Flood Leaves Behind, due in June. The album was recorded at Levon Helm Studios, the Woodstock, N.Y., venue built by Amy Helm's late father. “Going back to the place where I learned so much about how to express music, how to hold myself in music, how to listen to music -- it was humbling in a funny way," Helm says. "I could see clearly where I came from and where I am now in my life." Producer Josh Kaufman, whose credits include Taylor Swift’s folklore, says he wanted Helm "to feel like she had that freedom to be herself on the recordings and she just filled up the whole room." Those of us who have seen her perform live know well that her voice can fill any room. Collaborators on the record include Phil Cook (keys, harmonica), Michael Libramento (bass, organ, percussion), Tony Mason (drums), Daniel Littleton (guitar), Stuart Bogie (saxophone), Jordan McLean (trumpet), Helm’s son Lee Collins (congas) and Kaufman (piano, guitar and mandolin).

The Lone Bellow: Dried Up River 

"What if life is all about / Giving back the love we found?" (The Beatles would respond that of course it is, in The End.) Just over a year after the release of the Nashville-based trio's fourth album, Half Moon Light, the Bellow is back with this single, bringing its signature roots-meets-arena sound to a song about focusing on the important things in life. “I want to be grateful for the food on my table / Instead of eating each other alive.” Band member Brian Elmquist says that lyric is "a line that I’ve come back to countless times over the past year. There’s so much that I worry about that doesn’t matter, and I want to put more effort into the things that do."

Said the Whale: Honey Lungs

Finding meaning, love, happiness in today's weird world is a common theme in lyrics these days. This Vancouver band's new single opens with the line, "I don't believe in a god of hate," speaks of "leaning into love" and builds to the proclamation: "You can find the joy in every agonizing moment of existence on this planet." Singer-songwriters Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown and bassist Lincoln Hotchen have spent their lockdown days working on new material and promise more releases throughout the year.
In preparation for its upcoming second album, the Sydney, Australia-based band headed down the coast for a songwriting retreat. Lead singer Jack Froggatt says this first single "began as a concept about a character completely delusional with their desire for more. We started playing around in new time signatures trying to figure out where it fit best, eventually landing on 5/4 which has this feeling of never really resolving and always feeling tense." With its theme of desperate consumerism, the lyric reminds us of Arcade Fire's Everything Now.

Stevie Redstone: Now

This single's entry into our New Music bin is a case of a song getting a second life. It's a track from the Los Angeles singer-songwriter-pianist's debut LP, Shot in the Dark, which he self-released in 2019. A new publicity push sent it our way, and we're including it under our "it's still new if it's new to us" rule. Redstone rocks out on this number, joined by guitars, drums, horns and backing vocalists. A line in the song says "the sound keeps drowning out," and that's pretty much what the arrangement does to his piano.

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