Song: Annie You Save Me
Artist: Graffiti6, England
Album: Colours, 2010
Notes: An electronica/pop/rock duo from the UK comprising Tommy Danvers and Jamie Scott, they've previously worked behind the scenes with the likes of Alicia Keys, Jay Z and KT Tunstall. They got together in 2008 and released their debut album on their own N.W. Free Music label two years later. Capitol then signed the pair and re-packaged the album last year. Check out Scott's simple acoustic take on Wham!'s 'Last Christmas' on their website www.Graffiti6.com.
Song: Single Girls
Artist: Laura Jansen, Holland
Album: Bells, 2009
Notes: A plaintive but top-notch ballad about being single after a failed relationship, from a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Born in Holland, but with dual citizenship, she has been making things happen out of her Los Angeles base for a few years. She has been on a couple of tours with another one of L&F's favorite musicians, Joshua Radin - and has a new album titled 'Elba' set for release on March 25th.
Artist: David Bowie, England
Album: Pin Ups, 1973
Notes: Never a hit in the US, recorded in France, a Number One success in Australia and a brilliant cover version of an old tune by the Merseys, which in its turn was a cover of the McCoys' original. Earlier this month, on his 66th birthday, the singer announced the release of his first studio album in a decade. Produced by long-time cohort Tony Visconti, the record will contain 14 new songs and three bonus tracks.
Song: Too Late
Artist: Dinner and a Suit, Nashville, TN
Album: Since Our Departure, 2012
Notes: Infectious chorus on a fab new alternative rock rumbler from a trio of cousins, Jonathan Capeci, Anthony Genca and Joey Beretta, who hail from New Jersey. Formed about five years ago, they have released two albums to date and are about to embark on a US tour with The Rocketboys. For more check out dinnerandasuit.com.
Song: Nobody Knows
Artist: Paul Brady, Ireland
Album: Trick Or Treat, 1991
Notes: The immensely under-rated Irish singer-songwriter with an exquisite lost gem. A musicians' musician, his songs have been recorded by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Trisha Yearwood and Cher, though few except his ardent fans know of his work. It's been five long years since his latest album.
Song: Stone Cold
Artist: Deuce Project, San Antonio, TX
Album: Stone Cold, 2003
Notes: Shades of the Verve and an altogether BritPop feeling throughout. The duo of Josh McMillan and Noah Pearce were pals from the age of eight and began playing music together in their teens and then snapped up by Madonna's Maverick label in 2002. For some reason they only recorded that one album together and have since faded from view. McMillan released a solo album, 'Stone Cold,' in 2006.
Song: Arc Of A Diver
Artist: Steve Winwood, England
Album: Arc Of A Diver, 1981
Notes: A wonderful inventive oldie all the more remarkable in that the supremely-talented singer-songwriter played all the intruments, engineered and produced it himself at his home studio at his farm in Gloucestershire. Very few artists are so multi-talented - and none can rival his overall resume - in addition to a banner solo career he was of course a member of the Spencer Davis Group in the sixties, topping the chart when he was 17, before becoming a further cornerstone of both Blind Faith and Traffic.
Song: Short Change Hero
Artist: Heavy, England
Notes: Only previously heard as the theme to the ridiculous but mildly entertaining action series 'Strike Back' which has seen two seasons air on Cinemax. The multi-cultural quartet forges some really tight, shuffling melodic grooves throughout their sturdy repertoire. They're from the Roman city of Bath in the west of England, fronted by singer Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor. Their third CD 'The Glorious Dead' emerged last year.
Artist: Justice Collective, England
Notes: Recorded in December to raise awareness and funds for the Hillsborough Justice Campaign seeking legal clarity over what's known in the UK as the Hillsborogh Disaster, a tragedy at a soccer match in 1989 which took the lives of 96 people. The glorious update of the iconic Hollies' 1969 smash, it actually features a couple of the Hollies on the re-recording though sadly not their brilliant long-retired former lead singer, Allan Clarke. In his place are the likes of Robbie Williams, Paul Heaton of the Beautiful South, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, the wonderful Rebecca Ferguson and Ren Harvieu, even Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Old-time Liverpudlians Paul McCartney and Gerry Marsden also contribute.
Artist: Elton John, England
Album: Honky Chateau, 1972
Notes: This gorgeous ballad has been covered by loads of other artists over the years including the Indigo Girls and Ryan Adams - but as is often the case, the original remains the best. In a 2007 interview with the New York Times to celebrate his 60th birthday, he described the song as one of his all-time favorites, 'almost as if he had nothing to do with writing it.'
Song: Broken And Borrowed
Artist: Mostar Diving Club, England
Album: Triumph Of Hope, 2012
Notes: Some lovely midtempo Americana, graced by some fine plucky banjo pickin'. The intriguingly named band is an experimental side project by the London-based Damian Katkhuda who's an indie-folk singer-songwriter most of the time as well as the leader of Obi, who've been around on and off since 2000.
Song: Cars In The Garden
Artist: Paul Buchanan, Scotland
Album: Mid Air, 2012
Notes: Recorded at a friend's house on the east coast of Scotland and Gorbals Sound studio and his own home in Glasgow. Described by the reclusive Blue Nile frontman simply as 'late night music,' it's yet another beautiful sonic jigsaw from his magnificent album, comprising 24 similarly quiet, literate, sparse, piano-accompanied gems.
Artist: Emeli Sande, Scotland
Notes: The early 20s Scottish singer, who was originally going to pursue a career in medicine before thankfully committing to music instead, with another gem from her debut album, a truly outstanding collection of soulful ballads and R&B/pop shufflers. Already a successful songwriter for other British acts including Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle, she is going to be an enormous star.
Song: Harbour Lights
Artist: A Silent Film, England
Album: Sand And Snow, 2012
Notes: Clear echoes of both Snow Patrol and especially Coldplay on a smart hook-laden, melodic rock bubbler. The British quartet, which has been around since 2008 and hails from the university town of Oxford, have opened for the likes of the OneRepublic, Smashing Pumpkins and Biffy Clyro.
Artist: Glen Campbell, Delight, AR
Album: Ghost On The Canvas, 2010
Notes: One of several absolute pearls from what will be the final CD from the legendary singer-guitarist. Despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease it is so reassuring to hear those superb golden vocal chords still intact on this reworking of the Jakob Dylan original. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Chris Isaak and Paul Westerberg of the Replacements all contribute to this his 61st studio effort over a peerless career stretching all the way back to 1962.
Artist: Electric Owls, Asheville, NC
Album: Cullowhee Songs (EP), 2010
Notes: A delightfully quirky number, with two of the happiest sounding instruments out there - the ukulele and Jew's harp, by a one-man band that is Andy Herod. The frontman of the now apparently defunct Comas, he is also an interesting artist - check out Andy Herod's Art on Facebook.
Song: The Relatively Fair
Artist: Will Stratton, Woodland, CA
Album: Post-Empire, 2012
Notes: Understated lyrically and with a dreamy musical arrangement clearly reminiscent of the late, great Nick Drake, as well as '60s folkies John Fahey and Davy Graham. HIs gentle tenor voice is matched wonderfully with Amelia Meath's exquisite harmony vocals. The 25-year-old Brooklyn based superior singer-songwriter already has four long-players already under his belt.
Artist: Boz Scaggs, Canton, OH
Album: Some Change, 1994
Notes: A simply sensational track which flows along with such ease and reflective soul, but acoustically re-cast two years later for another long-player called 'Fade Into Light.' For many years way back in the '60s and '70s, the soulful tunesmith used to be in Steve Miller's Band before setting out on a sterling solo career. Following a five-year absence from recording, he's back with a new CD called 'Memphis.' He now lives on a vineyard with his wife in Napa County where they ferment their own wine. If you're curious to know more head to Scaggsvineyard.com.
Song: I Know
Artist: Meaghan Smith, Canada
Notes: An intro that sounds like vintage Patsy Cline, then evolves in a lovely throwback ballad with clarinet to the fore, with dashes of kd lang and Bjork. The Canadian songbird is one of four sibling sisters and ironically the only one who can't read music. She was named Best New Artist at the Juno Awards north of the border in 2011. More on her at meaghansmith.com.
Song: Never Knew Your Name
Artist: Madness, England
Notes: Never straying too far from their nutty brand of quirky horns-laced pop rock, the London septet are still on reassuringly fine form after more than 35 years together. Fronted by cheeky chappie Graham 'Suggs' McPherson formed as a heavily ska-influenced rock steady combo in the mid-'70s in their native Camden Town. Best known over here for their 'Our House' smash, they're very much a part of the cultural landscape back in the UK, where they were invited to perform on the roof of Buckingham Palace last summer during a concert to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Artist: Sheila & B. Devotion, France
Album: King Of The World, 1977
Notes: Sounding for all the world like a lost 45 by disco greats Chic - and with good reason - it is indeed Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic providing their distinctive rhythms, composition and arrangement on this disco nugget. Sheila & B Devotion was a short-lived disco group fronted by French singer Annie Chancel, aka Sheila, who was a household name in la belle France in the '60s and '70s. Sadly Edwards died too soon, just 43 years old when he passed away from pneumonia in 1996, and Rodgers was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in 2010.
Song: Hear Me Out
Artist: Frou Frou, England
Album: Details, 2002
Notes: An electronic classic from the pairing of vocalist Imogen Heap and producer Guy Sigsworth. They only recorded the one album together, and it's somewhat of a lost classic, stuffed with similarly imaginative cuts. Heap subsequently launched a successful solo career while Sigsworth returned to much in-demand production duties, for the likes of Alanis Morissette and Britney Spears.
Song: Even The Rain
Artist: Gabe Dixon, Augusta, GA
Album: One Spark, 2011
Notes: The always rewarding singer-songwriter paired with bluegrass queen Alison Krauss on a sadly lost gem. A true old-school talent and ace pianist who's been making A+ music for more than ten years, though still sorely undiscovered. His work harks back to the best melodic singer-songwriter fare of the 1970s, often reminiscent of Billy Joel at his best. In the last couple of years he's also been a touring member of Supertramp in between his own solo treks.
Song: All I Want
Artist: Kodaline, Ireland
Album: The Kodaline (EP), 2012
Notes: One of the most promising groups to emerge from Dublin in recent years. Although momentum for the band is only just underway, they've actually been together for about six years first performing under the name 21 Diamonds, and were recently one of the final 15 for the BBC 'Sound Of 2013' poll. This song has already made an appearance on 'Grey's Anatomy.'
Song: A New England
Artist: Kirsty MacColl, England
Album: A New England (single), 1984
Notes: A heartfelt treatment of a Billy Bragg composition recorded with the singer's then husband, uber-producer Steve Lillywhite. Bragg's original only had two verses, so he wrote a further two at her request. Tragically and inexplicably, she died at just 41 in a terrible boating accident off the coast of Cozumel in Mexico in 2000 while saving the life of one of her sons.
Song: Mind Made Up
Artist: Jillian Edwards, Dallas, TX
Album: Headfirst (EP), 2011
Notes: Dripping with quality, songwriting and execution of the highest order, from a Texan singer-songwriter who relocated to Nashville after she graduated from Baylor in May of 2011. Check her out on facebook - just add jillianedwardsmusic. On her fbook thing, she says 'I want to make music forever and ever, even if it's in coffee shops until I'm a cute, litte old lady.'
Song: Slipping Away
Artist: Dave Edmunds, Wales
Album: Information, 1983
Notes: One of Britain's most enduring musicians hailing from the capital city of Wales, he's been making music since the mid 1960s. His first success came with the group Love Sculpture, who had a UK hit with 'Sabre Dance,' a rock'n'roll version of the famous classical piece by Khachaturian. After success as a solo artist throughout the '70s, he called on Jeff Lynne to produce him, with the result that Lynne wrote and produced this song. He remains best known over here for his 1970 smash 'I Hear You Knocking.'
Artist: Hannah Georgas, Canada
Album: Hannah Georgas, 2012
Notes: Vancouver-based indie popster smartly combining her whispie vocal charms with some retro new wave vibes. She's been recording for some five years and her biggest success to date was when her compositon 'You've Got a Place Called Home' was used in a Wal-Mart commercial in 2009. She took part in fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair collective the following year - and last year was a member of the wonderful Kathleen Edwards backing band. She's on the road later this month. For details check out http://www.hannahgeorgas.com.
Artist: Aztec Camera, Scotland
Album: High Land Hard Rain, 1980
Notes: Emerging in the early '80s as perhaps the best of the Scottish new wave bands bursting out of the vibrant Glasgow music scene, this was their very first recording. Lead singer and songwriter Roddy Frame was just 16 when he assembled the combo and recorded its freshman effort. After going through multiple personnel line-ups, he disbanded the group in 1995. He still performs live occasionally.
Song: No Freedom
Artist: Dido, England
Album: Girl Who Got Away, 2013
Notes: One of the keys to her success, other than her distinctive, deliciously laid back vocal delivery, is the cunning simplicity she brings to nearly all her work. No longer in vogue, but she stays faithful to her craft. Her talented brother Rollo is among several producers on the new album along with the great Brian Eno.
Song: Before My Time
Artist: J. Ralph featuring Scarlet Johansson and Joshua Bell, New York, NY
Album: Chasing Ice, 2012
Notes: From a disturbing film about the calamitous effects of climate change, featuring the simple piano genius of its composer, Bell's bittersweet violin accompaniment and an empathetic vocal by a movie star - who can sing. Nominated in the Best Song from a Motion Picture category, it would stand a good chance of winning in another year, but unfortunately it's up against more popular fare, including Adele's 'Skyfall' theme and a song from Les Miserables.'
Song: It's A Beautiful Day
Artist: Holley Maher, Nashville, TN
Album: Not available
Notes: A brand new ditty coming in at just over two minutes with a delightful brass band backing. She's a promising but rather obscure songstress based in Nashville, who also works as a graphic designer. Just the one EP by her to date, the enchanting 'Odd Place To Be' from 2011 and produced by Thomas Doeve, who has worked with Trent Dabbs and Andrew Belle. More at holleymaher.com.
Song: Everloving Arms
Artist: Kristina Train, New York, NY
Album: Dark Black, 2012
Notes: Another beautifully moody song from her astonishing second album. Born in New York, raised in Savannah and now living in London, this superlative singer-songwriter released an gorgeous debut album in 2009 that died a death. After touring with Herbie Hancock as his lead singer and without a record contract, she flew to London to began working on the album from which this track comes, co-writing songs with Martin Craft, Simon Aldred, Justin Parker and L&F favorite Ed Harcourt.
Artist: Staves/Fleetwood Mac, England/Palo, CA/Phoenix, AZ
Notes: Comprising sisters Camilla, Emily and Jessica Staveley-Taylor, the trio has recorded a series of charming folk-based EPs and had many sit up and take notice last year when they toured the US in support of The Civil Wars and Bon Iver. Their debut album 'Dead & Born & Grown,' produced by the father and son team of Glyn and Ethan Johns, was released back in November. The song is probably the high point In the career of its writer Christine McVie, a career which has now spanned 45 years.