Three Favorites: Michael Lesousky, Jessica Rhaye, The Trebuchets

Bandcamp is a treasure trove of established and up-and-coming musical acts. It’s also one of my daily go-to destinations on the Web.  While the site’s stature has grown in recent years, it’s usefulness is sometimes undervalued.

From a consumer perspective, Bandcamp is my favorite site for discovering and supporting musicians. When I visit the site I can stream full tracks/albums before purchasing, sift through releases using a system of tags, and browse the music collections of other users via their fan accounts. As a result, I can determine which artists have produced work that I want to explore further. I also have the option of following those artists so that I am informed when they release new music or other merchandise.

I’d love to see more independent musicians engaging with an audience through Bandcamp. Fans will undoubtedly find much to appreciate as well, particularly in the variety of sounds available. Whether you favor plaintive, pensive traditional country (see The Lonesome Doves’ Waiting For Stars); bluesy, soul-soothing pop (Hadley Kennary’s Momentum EP); or poignant and wrenching folk (Logan Vath’s In the Presence of the Kingdom), there are a plethora of albums waiting to be unearthed by curious listeners. Below you’ll find a few recent favorites.

Deep Shade of BlueMichael Lesousky

deepshadeofblueBlues, folk, country, and bluegrass converge on the Grassland String Band member’s solo debut, a moody acoustic affair anchored by his soulful vocals. Lesousky is an immensely gifted songwriter who doesn’t mind making his audience a bit uncomfortable. However, on a spine-tingling rendition of Bill Browning’s “Dark Hollow”, the newly arrived Nashville resident demonstrates he is equally adept at inhabiting and reimagining classics by paying homage to those who contributed to his formative years.

songinmeSong In MeJessica Rhaye

Fifteen years and five albums into her career, Rhaye is still exploring new facets of her written voice. For her latest release, the Canadian singer-songwriter made a purposeful decision to co-write with others, including Matt Andersen, Matt Epp, Hilary Anne Ladd, Bill Preeper and Brent Mason. However, don’t mistake the collaborations on Song In Me as an example of songwriting by committee. Instead, these compositions provide fresh insight into both Rhaye’s own life and the outside world. She makes observations without judgement, infusing her subjects with dignity and humanity.

throughthewindowThrough The WindowThe Trebuchets

It would be a disservice to refer to the members of the Trebuchets as old souls. While the Tennessee-based band writes and plays with great maturity, it is arguably their youth that allows them to tackle issues of mortality, isolation, and fear with vitality instead of weariness. Mixing elements of pop, rock, and jazz with a vigor that should leave listeners shaken, Through The Window offers the audience a glimpse of the world through the eyes of narrators who (based on one’s perspective) are either on the outside looking in or on the inside looking out. Compellingly voiced by lead singer Rebecca Upchurch, several songs offer room for interpretation. This is an album worth revisiting multiple times.

The Trebuchets:
Rebecca Upchurch – vocals
Dillon Matheny – lead guitar and piano
Jared Grubbs – drums
Gregory Boe – bass guitar
Alex Noreiga – saxophone and rhythm guitar


“Am I Drunk Enough” – Jennie Curran

I’ve mentioned Jennie Curran before, so I was quite pleased to see a music video released for “Am I Drunk Enough.” The song is featured on her recently re-released EP This Is Me. One of the things I like best about Curran’s vocal delivery on this song is that it never feels forced. She’s an emotive singer who conveys her lyrics purposefully without excessive embellishment.

The “Am I Drunk Enough” video clip was directed by Jeff Swafford. Here’s hoping we hear more from Curran in the near future.

Jennie Curran: Facebook
Purchase This Is Me: iTunes |  Amazon


“Ray’s Song” – Freddy & Francine

Credit to Chris Green for the video.

The mesmerizing “Ray’s Song” is featured on Gung Ho, the latest release from Americana soul duo Freddy & Francine (Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso). Ferris and Caruso first met while performing in a production of Hair, launching a professional (and eventually personal) collaboration that resulted in an EP (2008’s Freddy & Francine) and two full length recordings  (2009’s The Briar Patch and 2010’s The Forest and the Sea). Three years after breaking up the pair joined forces to duet on “I Wanna Go Home With You” off Caruso’s excellent 2015 solo album Bravado, and Freddy & Francine was officially re-formed.

Enjoy Ferris and Caruso’s insanely beautiful voices and the pair’s gorgeous harmonies.

Freddy & Francine: Official site | Facebook
Purchase Gung Ho: iTunes | Amazon

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Album Recommendation: Something That You Know – Mason Lee

somethingthatyouknowRecounting his passion for three great (but different) loves on “These Two Hands”, the penultimate song on Mason Lee’s Something That You Know offers listeners a glimpse at the driving forces behind the young singer-songwriter: perseverance, people, and faith. All intertwined, each are essential to the Texas native turned Nashville resident who’s drawn strength from the personal and professional community that surrounds him. Appropriately, these driving forces also shape the sound of Lee’s debut EP, a collection centered around admitting and acknowledging one’s own truths. Lee’s name may not be one many country fans know (not yet), but it’s one they should.

In addition to showcasing Lee’s artistry, Something That You Know highlights the importance of the relationships he’s cultivated in Nashville. Although currently unsigned, his friendships and connections have resulted in a beautifully produced EP featuring superb instrumentation that could easily compete alongside any label release. Something That You Know is a triumph not only for Lee but the people who support his dreams and aspirations.

Vocally, there’s an understated elegance to Lee’s delivery, an air of effortless cool mixed with his conversational tone. His phrasing provides enough space for his thoughtful lyrics to resonate in the minds of listeners, keeping the focus squarely on his songwriting.

Those songs adroitly balance commercial appeal with substantive content. Although firmly situated in the present, songs like album opener “Something Good” and the aforementioned “These Two Hands” have a kind of classic appeal. First single “Already Gone” is one of the most radio-friendly tunes among the six-song set, with the adult attitude and decisive actions of the narrator elevating it above similar break-up anthems.

The driving “Someone to Fill My Bed” stands in stark contrast to the boring dreck about hooking up that seems to have overtaken the airwaves. Notably, the narrator admits to a potential love interest that he previously might have been in favor a fling, but has matured into a better romantic prospect: “If you’d met me six months ago/I’d be a different man/I’d be spinning my wheels, head over heels/Eating from the palm of your hand.” Instead, he proposes actually taking the time to determine whether they’re compatible as friends with the ability to become something more.

Album closer “Outlaw State of Mind” (from which the EP takes its title) grapples with the pull between sin and salvation, featuring a twist that reveals how easy it is to slide back into temptation. The nuanced composition explores the struggles with which all people (even those who appear the most moral) must contend:

Every outlaw’s been found begging for redemption once or twice
Trying to take that step on to the high road
But that outlaw state of mind is calling all the time
You gotta side with something that you know
That’s just my way of thinking I suppose

Not surprisingly, two of the EP’s softer songs (and seemingly two of the most personal) pack the most emotional punch. The narrator of the gentle “These Two Hands” finds power in the comfort and support of those around him. “When trouble comes around/And these two hands start to shake/You’ll be there to steady me/They’ll bend but never break,” Lee declares in an expression of gratitude and humility.

Meanwhile, delicate ballad “Something Good” is one of my favorite love songs so far this year. This carefully rendered portrait of a couple discovering the depth of their relationship sounds like it could be a long-lost James Taylor cut.

That said, Lee’s voice is his own: confident, assured, and capable. Something That You Know proves that it is one worth hearing again and again.

Mason Lee: Official site | Facebook
Purchase Something That You Know: iTunes | Amazon