Christopher Paul Stelling – Die to Know (Spotify)

“The singing tones of an intricately picked & gorgeous sounding acoustic guitar takes one back to the days when it was such a prominent instrument in folk & country music. A perfect accompaniment to the dulcet, slightly weathered, yet exceptionally mellow tones of Christopher’s vocal,. Die To Know is in a word compelling.”

Christopher Paul Stelling new (sixth!) album - Forgiving It All- is out now, along with the release of its gorgeous lead single, "Die To Know we blog here on Nagamag.

Even before 2020 slid historically off the rails, Christopher Paul Stelling confronted an essential exercise in acceptance and gratitude. In December 2019, Stelling started another cross-country sprint from California to Florida, where the songwriter who has long called western North Carolina home was raised. Aside from recording his fifth album, Best of Luck, he had toured much of that year, making relentless laps around North America. He wanted to make it home not only for Christmas but also to see Emma, his 92-year-old grandmother. He didn’t; she passed just days before he arrived. Recorded alone in her modest white ranch house in Daytona Beach, Forgiving It All — Stelling’s wisest, most intimate, and most settled record yet, and his first self-released LP in eight years — feels like a final tribute to her and to everything he and we have lost or gained.

Last year seemed to brim with transformational potential for Stelling. For the better part of a decade, he had been a feverish and itinerant troubadour, spilling guts and blood and sweat in soul-scraping solo sets. He’d lived up the lifestyle, too, hydrating for the stage with booze. But at the end of 2017, he’d gone sober after recognizing that chunks of his life had disappeared. Recorded a year later, Best of Luck — his third album for Anti- and the first he’d cut with a producer, Ben Harper — seemed poised to push him to new audiences, its mix of wistful acoustic ballads and stomp-around-the-room rock somehow both polished and primal. The shows were piling up, so much so that Stelling planned to have barely one day off in all of 2020.

And then, of course, all that was scrapped. The news closed in around him as he toured north along the West Coast. He turned east and got as far as Colorado, then had a panic attack in a Kansas truck stop, wrestling with existential and professional despair as the world wobbled on its axis. Stelling came home and, like many of us, worked to shape a new routine in a world that was instantly alien. So for the first time in years, he spent days on end with his partner, Julia, and their bounding young dog, Ida. He hiked, read, and watched endless television to placate overwhelming anxiety as best he could. Having fulfilled his label contract (and convinced he didn’t want a new one, anyway), Stelling launched a crowdfunding campaign, asking if fans felt compelled to invest in his songs. They said yes — he sold more records in those first 48 hours than he’d ever sold in advance before.

Stelling began at last to unpack a decade into which he had packed so much. What had music taught him that life had not, and vice versa? What did he have to sing about all that he had seen? The spellbinding 10 tracks of Forgiving It All represent the profound distillates of that reflection. Committed to tape in Emma’s home a year after Stelling cut his intended never-ending tour short, these songs are the lessons of a once-wild kid looking at (not quite) 40, expressing acceptance for the struggles and joys of life and singing out his gratitude for still being here. Opener “Die To Know” is a tender ode to innocence, a remembrance of simple joy and sincerity before experience and age dulled our enthusiasms. “Wildfire,” which moves with the ineffable grace of ripples on some idyllic pond, stares down accreted adult fears and begs for the mercy of rebirth.

“WWYLLYD” presents an exercise in radical empathy, apt for our universally troubled times. “Remember, everyone is suffering/not just you,” Stelling pleas over strummed chords that rush like blood. The title is an acronym for “When What You Love Lets You Down.” We’re all starving artists, it suggests, but that’s what keeps us going, interested, and, if we’re lucky, alive.

To some extent, these songs are about letting yourself off the hook, about accepting your imperfections even as you deal with them. But title track “Forgiving It All,” as mesmerizing and motivational as a religious mantra, admits that we don’t bear responsibility for all of our baggage, that others have played a part. If we’re going to reckon with ourselves, Stelling says, we have to encourage others to do the same, to share in this catharsis. “Let the doubtful confide in you,” he sings near the start, opening what may feel like the most candid therapy session you’ve ever encountered. Stelling — truth be told, a marquee fingerpicker who’s never been content to make purely wordless music — pauses for the gorgeous instrumental “For Your Drive,” then ends with a hymn of his own, “They’ll All Proclaim.” It is a gracious, gorgeous aubade for what comes after — tomorrow, post-pandemic, whenever.

We will wrestle for our lifetimes with what happened in 2020 and what may follow. Forgiving It All is an instinctual and honest response to trying to make the best of it: sorting through the past and using the present to prepare for an unwritten future. These songs remind us we’re lucky to be here, no matter what or who it is we have to forgive.

- Grayson Currin


“A pleasant &, harmonious blend of acoustic atmospherics that will gently transport you from the fog of awakening to the warm glow of consciousness on sunny a Californian beach. This laid back, catchy tune is also full of layers of great musicianship, not least of which are the warm comforting vocals. ”

M.Byrd’s story starts somewhere between Amsterdam and Paris. Whilst being the tour bassist for Ilgen-Nur, M.Byrd showed the rest of the band his own demos and their reaction was what gave him the final push to focus on his solo career. Fast-forward to the end of the tour and just one single-release later the 25 year-old artist now has more than 1.5 million Spotify streams under his belt. M.Byrd swiftly forged his own path in the industry with his infectious indie neo-psych-folk sound.

The upcoming single “Morning Sun” is indeed all about an acoustic sound scape, which, however, conveys no less depth than the powerful guitar sounds of “Mountain”. The warm entry symbolizes the rising of the morning sun and at the same time lets listeners wake up in the fog.

M. Byrd himself describes the process as follows:

“Morning Sun has become a kind of morning mantra for me. The idea came to me a few years ago in the morning right after I got up and it came back to me subsequently over and over again, like a kind of entry into meditation, until I finally recorded it and arranged it into form.”

Marcel Izequierdo Torres, who also directed the first music video of the artist, takes the night as a visual guideline and in an almost mystical atmosphere features the self-confident dancer Rose Marie Lindstrøm with her own choreography.Alternating between floating and rhythmic movements, the young dancer interprets the song as a ritual awakening after an aimless search in the fog, as the desire for the redeeming breath under water.

M.Byrd’s timeless songs shine with a feeling of strength and self-understanding that can be rarely found at the beginning of a young musicians’s career – they transport the listener to the American west coast, emitting a sense of melancholic future and euphoric youth, urging them to trust their intuition and find their inner-self. “I spent many years soaking up personal and musical experiences and I’ve been learning a lot in different studios and touring situations. The music I make is thus inspired by being on the road, moving on and allowing growth to happen. I realized that the experiences on my path might also inspire other people and I hope that this will continue in the future with the songs we release.”

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Jon Campbell – Cruising at the End of the World (Video)

“A song that captures the uncertainty of a rapidly changing world. A record of what once was before the inevitable shift towards life in lockdown and fear of the unknown In essence, a cleanly picked acoustic guitar and melancholic male vocal, supported by a trumpet and trombone that represents male and female human interaction. A thought provoking, well performed ballad.”

Artist shared few words behind his inspiration on this song:

” The arrangement for the song is based on an arguing couple I passed on the street while riding my bike in the first month of the pandemiic; the trumpet is the woman’s voice and the trombone is the man’s. In the context of the unfolding catastrophe, even their fighting sounded beautiful because it was human and since it felt like everything was slipping away from us, I wanted to record every bit of humanity that I could before it disappeared, taking snapshots in my mind of these beautiful people on the streets.

At the same time as these daily bike rides, I started painting portraits to get by, since my furloughed pay wasn’t enough to pay the bills. This daily process of portrait painting also echoed that feeling of wanting to record some last impressions of humankind before it faded away. ” – Jon Campbell

Bad Habits – Love Me/Hate Me – Acoustic (Spotify)

“The vocals in -Love Me / Hate Me - are a veritable lyrical volcano that erupts up to crimson skies. Singing somewhere in the upper atmosphere, squeezes the chest in the most vulnerable place. And your heart skips a beat. Bravo! -Bad Habits- hit the sweet spot.”

“Вокал в -Love Me/Hate Me- настоящий лирический вулкан, который извергается до багровых небес. Поющий где-то в верхних слоях атмосферы, он сдавливает грудь в самом уязвимом месте. И ваше сердце замирает. Браво! -Bad Habits- попали в точку.”

“Love Me/Hate Me” is a song about trying to love someone while suffering from BPD (borderline personality disorder). A daily ongoing struggle, trying to convince yourself that all the lies your mind creates aren't real...

Bad Habits is a collective of Jo (vocals), Ellie (vocals/bass), Severin (lead guitar), Spiros (guitar), and Apostol (drums) based in Athens, Greece. The band’s eclectic style pulls diverse elements of classic and punk rock for a unique, modern sound with a kick of 70s nostalgia.

The culmination of a decade-and-a-half’s worth of collaboration and experimentation, including ventures into acoustic pop, hardcore punk, and beyond, Bad Habits was established in the fall of 2018. Though initially intended to be a cover band, it wasn’t long before the project took on a life of its own. Drawing on diverse rock influences, the group took to the studio to show off their full potential (and distinctive style).

Now fresh off the heels of their debut single, “California,” Bad Habits are gaining serious traction in the alternative music scene. Rooted in uncompromising authenticity, they serve as a beacon for relatable self-expression and the obliteration of senseless stereotyping with their sharp Rock & Roll edge.

With 15 more songs slated for release, the band is looking forward to a continued upward trajectory through 2021.

Tom Moriarty – Hurricane (Spotify)

“Drawn by deep and recognizable elements of rock art, multifaceted arrangement, elegant and lively acoustic guitar. Lulling romantic image, a mirage uncontrollable vortex of fire and elegant dance sound modulations.”

“Глубоко прочерченные и узнаваемые элементы арт-рока, многогранная аранжировка, изящная и живая акустическая гитара. Убаюкивающие романтическими образы, мираж неконтролируемых вихрей огня и изящный танец звуковых переливов.”

Artist shared with Nagamag his story behind this song inspiration:

" To be honest I wrote this song about a homeless girl. It's not one I know but it's her story. When I wrote this song I saw her, going from place to place, the arguments, the sorrow. There are those that can not see how people can become homeless, that sometimes there are people that will have no where to go. We are all closer than we like to think. I found this photo below that to me represented that girl. She's trying to make things better but really she's on the run. Sometimes she's running from people and other times she's running from things in the past, things within her. It's often that people might not see the reasons, or know how to deal with them. So I write this line "You've been running for so long, but do you really know what you're running from". For me homelessness in the 21st century is totally unacceptable. People are so prejudice. I met this person once who honestly said, "homeless people want to be homelesss". And I'm like what the fuck. The point is that when you have people like that in power then you have people like this homeless girl on the streets. Things gotta change. Anyway, here's the song about her called "Hurricane.

- Tom Moriarty

Blue Light Bandits, Ricky Duran – She’s Not The One (Spotify)

“Whether looking for something to express inner thoughts or just please your ears "She's Not The One" may be the right choice! The single that came to stay in your music list for a long time. Rock influenced style and dominating guitar chords that we loved from the first seconds.”

“She’s Not The One” is our fourth single and it’s a co-write with former band member, Ricky Duran. Ricky moved to Austin, TX to chase the blues, and shortly after became the runner-up winner on Season 17 of NBC’s The Voice. The three verses are lead by each writer/singer as personalized accounts of frivolous relationships and the emotional aftermath. As expected, this collaboration comes with a catchy group chorus, rich vocal harmonies, and a soaring guitar solo to finish.

Aaron Davison x MJ Malone – Oh, My Love (Video)

“Intentionally reminiscent of the classic Beatles mellow harmonies ‘Oh My Love’ does a pretty good job of capturing the late 60’s early 70’s sound.. Aaron Davison and MJ Malone certainly reproducing the mood in this catchy rendition. Nostalgia in abundance.”

“Oh, My Love” is the latest release from Aaron Davison and MJ Malone. Aaron & MJ have decided to pull out all the promotional stops for his latest release. In an effort to reach 1 million streams on both Spotify and Youtube, Aaron & MJ have created a dedicated website (, where they’ll be documenting a variety of unique and outright outrageous marketing techniques they’ll be using to promote their latest release on Spotify and Youtube. “Oh, My Love” was also recently signed to North Note, a London based sync licensing agency who represents Aaron and MJ’s music for use in TV & Films.

Eyal Zusman, Amir Lev – הרוח כבר שטה (The wind has already blown) (Spotify)

“As we, the audience, are living into a situation, -Eyal Zusman- is able to analyze it, to creatively interpret and convey to us in the form of the stunning creations, like here in song -The wind has already blown-. Indescribable beauty in the wrapper of experimental folk and expressive vocals.”

“Пока мы, слушатели, просто проживаем ситуацию, -Eyal Zusman- сумел её проанализировать, творчески осмыслить и передать нам в виде такого потрясающего творения, как -The wind has already blown-. Неописуемая красота в обёртке из экспериментального фолка и выразительного вокала.”

When the river of life dries up and you try to figure out what is left of this short existence, you crave to keep believing in something, insisting on faith in God, at the end you might replace the body with a new shape, in hope to meet again in another dimension.

We are proud to present the second song from the new album by Eyal Zusman and Amir Lev - The Journey to the warmer lands. This is a collaboration between two Israeli artists, who created an album with live warm sounds, an oriental Galilee touch and Mediterranean rhythms.

Amir Lev has been creating music for over 30 years, releasing extraordinary solo albums and canonic songs, which he performs in unforgettable performances. Lev is a music producer, an excellent guitarist, and an exciting songwriter.

Eyal Zusman is an actor, director, and screenwriter. He has won several awards in the arts and culture sphere and this is his first music album.

All the songs in the album 'The Journey to the warmer lands’ were composed jointly by Lev and Zusman, inspired by the tracks of the French musician DJ WORAKLS.

The album was recorded live with acoustic instruments and live vocals.

Sarah Reiwitch – Daydreaming Again (Video)

“No place here for a basic strumming, or even standard finger-picking. Sarah’s pleasantly ringing creativity when playing the acoustic guitar is a breath of fresh air. The creativity overflows into perfectly placed chimes & other manner of musical alchemy. Did I mention the vocals? I’m searching for a word and I think that word has to be…. Perfection.”

The song will make you feel dreamy with its delicate chimes and choruses of multiple layered vocal harmonies, I was inspired to write it after seeing leaves dance in the breeze behind my bedroom blinds and while contemplating a complicated relationship and a new job that was about to start. I hope you like it! Thanks for listening.

Sarah writes folk-inspired tunes with heartfelt vocals on her acoustic guitar. She’s inspired to create songs by all the moments of joy, ecstasy, heartbreak, and grief that she passes through. She draws from her varied background of musical influences, from 70s folk/rock to modern indie-folk to several styles of Brazilian music. She is often likened to Joni Mitchell for her exploratory guitar style, alternative tunings, soulful vocals, and intensely personal lyrics. In addition to Joni, Sarah cites Adrianne Lenker, Brandi Carlile, and Cássia Eller as artists she resonates with.

Sarah is a multi-instrumentalist who creates music on the piano and acoustic guitar, then layers on other instruments. She has a background in Brazilian percussion and dance, which she studied for nearly a decade, and is a published poet.

Rudyb – Into the wild (Video)

“The opening interplay between acoustic & electric guitar continues throughout the song to provide a background for the engaging solo male vocals in the early verses & the sweet harmony female vocals that accompany in later verses. The rest of the band joins in during the pre-chorus builds & throughout each chorus to lift the song even more. Extremely listenable.”

It’s a song about going into the unknown. Acoustic vibes with a deep and sad message as undertone. Going ‘into the wild’ is actually not what most people would think from first listen.

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