Four Favorites: Karen Choi, The Deep Hollow, The Hobbs Sisters, Emily Scott Robinson

Heading into the summer, I realize I haven’t posted as much as I’d like this year. Truthfully, the past several months have left me a bit weary. Nonetheless, I’ve still had the opportunity to hear some wonderful music, and hope to resume writing reviews/recommendations as my schedule clears. In the meantime, below you’ll find some up-and-coming artists who are crafting thoughtful works that are worthy of your attention and dollars.

“100 Year Flood” – Karen Choi
Album: Through Our Veins
Purchase: iTunes | Amazon | Bandcamp

Hailing from Nebraska, Choi is the epitome of a heartland singer-songwriter. Her strong attention to detail can be observed throughout her poignant sophomore album, a collection that chronicles not only the joys and tribulations of rural life, but the common hopes and fears that define us as people.  “100 Year Flood” centers around the unforgiving power of Mother Nature and the irony that the water people and creatures rely on for survival can also destroy their livelihoods.  When the elements obliterate a family’s home, they’re swept along an uncertain path from which they desperately hope to recover.

“Getting Good At Feeling Bad” – The Deep Hollow
Album: The Deep Hollow
Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

Consider me suitably confused that there have not been more printed accolades for the debut from this Illinois-based Americana trio consisting of Elizabeth Eckert, Dave Littrell, and Micah Walk. The group’s stellar self-titled LP, replete with dulcet harmonies and evocative lyrics, can comfortably stand alongside more celebrated discs. While some of their peers may seem stiff, the Deep Hollow’s album brims with soul. Check out the slinky groove of “Getting Good At Feeling Bad” from the band’s acoustic Porch Sessions below.

“Rain On A Tin Roof” – The Hobbs Sisters
Album: Love Hangover
Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

For their sophomore EP, twin sisters Hannah and Lauren Hobbs felt it was important to demonstrate their own songwriting skills rather than rely on outside writers. Their sister Rachel collaborated with them on one of the album’s standout tracks, a moody acknowledgement of how ignoring problems in a relationship can lead to ruin. Mixing mainstream sensibilities with descriptive lyrics, the talented Pittsburgh-based duo proves how country-pop, when it’s done well, can be just as emotionally affecting as traditional country.

“Slaughterhouse Road” – Emily Scott Robinson
Album: Magnolia Queen
Purchase: iTunesAmazon

Remember the name since you won’t be able to forget the music. Robinson’s debut Magnolia Queen, a haunting, acoustic eight-song collection available for purchase on major retail sites (and streaming on Spotify), is more than worth the price of admission, featuring impassioned vocals and stunning songwriting that’s garnered her honors from American Songwriter magazine and the Kerrville Folk Festival, among others. The first track off the album is a murder ballad recounted matter-of-factly and unapologetically by a scorned wife with vengeance on her mind.  Now that Robinson is pursuing music full-time, listeners can look forward to hearing more from a literate songsmith who’s only just begun to showcase her talents. (Also check out the award-winning “Marriage Ain’t The End of Being Lonely” below.)