Music Genre

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

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

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.

Alas de Liona – Cascade (Video)

“How many different pictures apear in the mind while listening “Cascade”? This song has the power to turn a new page in your sound vision! Find out the vast singing talent of “Alas de Liona” and will never forget this moment.”

Alas de Liona is a singer/songwriter from the Californian desert, making music in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Radio Astronomy is an EP of 5 original songs – inspired by ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, it is a collection of space lullabies and cosmic folktales.

Cascade is the third track released from Alas de Liona’s Radio Astronomy EP.

The song is about loss and dwelling in a painful memory,

The video marks her debut as writer and director.


Paul Cafcae – Downtown (Spotify)

“-Downtown- is a competent combination of elements of Native American genres. Traditional country music, a bit of folk and rock, a definite hit from -Paul Cafcae-, which brought together the best creative and musical quality.”

“-Downtown- грамотное сочетание элементов исконно американских жанров. Традиционная country музыка, немного folk и rock и перед нами однозначный хит от -Paul Cafcae-, который собрал воедино лучшие творческие и музыкальные качества.”

Sometimes you just need a jam song — a song that gets the feet moving and gets you lost in the groove. That's "Downtown," by Paul Cafcae. It's got a country two-step feel but quickly whisks you away in blues appreciation with its many licks, head-bopping lyrics, and a harmonica solo by Venezuelan, Hector Alexander, that can cut glass.

It's the kind of track that makes you miss live music and would fit nicely in a dimly-lit, underground blues bar that you happen to stumble upon in the middle of the night. And that's kind of the point of the song; making light of the cultural differences of the big city big wig people—the yuppies—and the rest of the world who grooves in the fringer parts of society. The hole in the wall establishments full of energy, art, and a DIY attitude.

This thought is sealed with Cafcae's lyric "do this dirty, dirty, thing playing blues all the night." Immediately after comes a sensational 12 bar blues solo and then Hector's brief moment in the spotlight. Cafcae will probably get back to playing blues all night once the pandemic lifts.

"It's a slightly satirical song," says Paul Cafcae.

David Omlor – Ghosts in Oklahoma (Spotify)

“In this track David recounts the injustice dealt to Native Americans on the infamous ‘Trail Of Tears’ & all in the name of progress. The short intro sets the mood for the clear, melodic & slightly gritty vocal. The tasteful guitar adds a touch of melancholy that sits perfectly with the other instruments to create a sorrowful atmosphere for the thought provoking narrative.”

Acoustic song about the trail of tears.

Katie Jo – Pawn Shop Queen (Spotify)

“The forthcoming single from Katie Jo was inspired by major difficulties and negative feelings from life such as rejection, isolation and depression. The artist's message is clear; We should never give up trying and fighting for the best. A beautiful Americana song with outstanding and elegant singing voice.”

American Songwriter recently praised Katie Jo's "expressive storytelling," calling her music "dreamy, nostalgic and infectiously genuine." Her latest single "Pawn Shop Queen"—the title track from her forthcoming debut LP, out April 9—just premiered at top country / Americana site The song is an empowering Americana anthem about having your heart broken, being mistreated and cast aside, and questioning your own self worth before finally having an epiphany and coming to truly value and respect yourself and everything you have to offer the world.

Katie Jo is gearing up to release her debut album, Pawn Shop Queen, on April 9th. While she’s a relative newcomer to the scene, she makes up for it in life experience. You can hear it in her voice—sweet yet road-weary, a contemporary torchbearer for classic country stars like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Her lyrics tell the tale of a woman who’s had her heart broken more than once but still stands strong.

Pawn Shop Queen tackles themes at the dark heart of country music: infidelity, religion, depression. But what sets Katie Jo apart is her ability to tackle taboo subjects like infertility and abortion with honesty and rawness. The catalyst for her new record came four years ago while she was going through a trying period in her personal life.

“When I was 26.” Katie Jo explains, “I was diagnosed with a condition called a bicornuate uterus, which means my uterus didn't form properly. My doctor told me out of the blue, and it was a shock. At the time, a lot of my friends were starting to think about having kids, and I’d always assumed I’d go down that path, too. Then I got this news, but the doctor didn't really give me a lot of information, just kind of brushed it aside and was very dismissive of my questions about how it would impact my life. When you're a young woman, just a woman in general, a lot of times when you try to get medical advice, you're either dismissed or people don't explain all the things that can go wrong.”

Eventually, despite her diagnosis, Katie Jo unexpectedly became pregnant. To make matters worse, her long-term relationship was in shambles. “I knew I didn't want to be pregnant. I already knew something was wrong with me, and I just did not want to go through that experience. I wasn't ready to be a mother. I knew I couldn’t go back to the same doctor, so I called Planned Parenthood, and I asked, what does it mean to terminate a pregnancy? What does that look like? It was a very hard phone call to make.”

After an exam with Planned Parenthood, Katie Jo received pills to induce an abortion, an extremely painful process she went through completely alone on July 4th. From there, things got even more complicated. When she returned for her follow-up, she learned that because of her condition she required surgery to complete the abortion. After two failed attempts, she was rushed into an emergency surgery. Despite the fact that the abortion was both medically necessary and extremely risky—a pregnancy in her uterine horn could have resulted in her death—Katie Jo told no one.

“It was a very traumatic, life-altering thing to go through alone. For five or six years, I just kept it to myself and fell into deep depression. All of my friends were starting to get married and have kids while I was forced down this alternate path I didn't quite understand. It really destroyed my emotional fortitude.”

The isolation sparked Katie Jo’s songwriting. She came up with the songs for Pawn Shop Queen alone in her bedroom, and before long started performing them live with a backing band. It became a coping mechanism. “It was a way I could work through things,” she says.

On top of the unplanned pregnancy and resulting medical emergency, Katie Jo also had to deal with a breakup. “I really freaked out,” she says. “It was like, I'm 26, 27, and I'm mad now. I am broken. Like, I don't want to be me, you know? But then I met someone very shortly after this experience, and I just fell head over heels.”

Thinking she’d found someone with whom she could finally be vulnerable, Katie Jo poured her heart out about the hellish months leading up to the new relationship. But when she caught this person cheating on her, she quickly slipped back into an even deeper depression. Music eventually pulled her out.

“I was in a really low place for a lot of years. But once I started writing and performing, it was an escape from this pit of despair I was hiding in. The songs for Pawn Shop Queen came out of that period. While it’s not a black & white diary entry of the events, the record really encapsulates cynicism and emotional isolation.”

The title track on the new record is one of those songs that just came pouring out. “It's about what it feels like when you think the love you’re experiencing is this precious and valuable thing, but then the other person just sort of casts you aside. You still want to be loved and cherished, like you have something to offer. You’re trying to retain your own happiness and self-worth, even in the midst of heartbreak and pain.”

Before heartbreak hit, Katie Jo was cutting her teeth picking banjo on the bluegrass scene. As she evolved down the path toward country and Americana, she discovered a warm and supportive music scene in her adopted hometown of Los Angeles. Like country rebel Dwight Yoakam, Katie Jo has made a name for herself playing unconventional venues like punk clubs and even boxing gyms (in between picking songs, Katie Jo is also an avid student of boxing and martial arts). Having whipped her songs into shape in front of a variety of audiences, an album was the next logical step.

For Pawn Shop Queen, Katie Jo worked with Chris Schlarb at Big Ego Studios in Long Beach. She met Schlarb through her pedal steel player, session musician George Madrid. Schlarb assembled an impressive cast to play on the record, which was tracked live in just three days.

“One thing I appreciated about working with Chris was that decisions were made very quickly,” Katie Jo says. It wasn't laborious, there’s no Autotune, and we didn’t tweak every little last thing. It's very much just, ‘Here’s the performance, how do we best bring out what is here naturally?’ The process was really just to trust the people in the room to do good work. When you get the right people together, it can happen pretty quickly.”

Katie Jo’s plans to debut and tour the record last year were delayed by COVID-19, but she’s pushing ahead as best as she can. “Even if touring isn’t really possible right now, it’s time to get this record and these new music videos out into the world.”

With Pawn Shop Queen, Katie Jo shakes up traditional expectations of what a female country artist can and should sing about. Not only does the record challenge stigmas, it’s the sound of a promising young songwriter coming into her own, taking some of life’s most daunting and painful struggles and turning them into something beautiful.

Frances Luke Accord – Maria (Spotify)

“Frances Luke Accord with their peaceful piece, are here to take away all the tension and anxiety. Fabulous delicate singing voices and a background of Folk at its best mix, offered for your mind relaxation.”

Frances Luke Accord’s next body of work, the Sunnyside EP, will be available to the world on March 19, 2021. The first track on that upcoming release, “Maria,” is available now for you to preview. "Maria" went through many iterations (including an earlier release from 2018), before capturing this version. The atmosphere of emptiness and calm we were able to achieve this time around lends the song a richer synchrony between lyrics and music, and better exposes the spiritual center of the song's narrative arc. Or so we feel!

When Nicholas Gunty and Brian Powers put their songs and their voices together, there is a delicate and powerful magic that commands the room to attention. The duo is known as Frances Luke Accord, and they are what NPR’s Mountain Stage calls “the definition of lean-in music.” Their soulful branch of indie-folk is orchestrated with spare and sophisticated acoustic threads woven into a lush backdrop for their intimate melodies. Rich, up-close tenor harmonies lend their timeless songwriting an urgency that honors the Simon & Garfunkel comparisons but pushes beyond into the world of Bon Iver, Jose Gonzalez, and progressive folk music.

The Wandering Hearts – Gold (Video)

“Scars are stories to be told!…and The Wandering Hearts with their new single Gold, delivering the next memorable hit song.
We receive and review daily new music in the nagamag music, picking what 100% align with our our personal taste. Yet we admit, quite few times we have goosebumps so hard, and this song is really gold! Starts ethereal with an obvious quality and deep story line, once the chorus starts, release out anything hidden inside you. There’s a light in the night and it’s breaking up the sky… Amazing!”

After shooting to the forefront of the UK folk/Americana scene with their debut album ‘Wild Silence’, The Wandering Heartsheaded to the genre’s spiritual home of Woodstock at the start of 2020 to work on a follow-up. The result is their forthcoming self-titled album, which will be released on July 30th, which they have today launched with the new single ‘Gold’. It represents their first release under a new deal with Cooking Vinyl. Listen HERE.

The Wandering Hearts headed deep into the Catskills, where producers Simone Felice and David Baron hosted experimental and spiritual sessions in a studio packed with vintage instruments. The album echoes the timeless songcraft of Fleetwood Mac and Simon & Garfunkel with the pure passion of Jade Bird and The Lumineers. It’s a record that celebrates life, new beginnings, and striving to shine through a darkening world.

The new single ‘Gold’ opens with the gritty, fervent soul of AJ Dean-Revington’s vocals, before the band’s patented harmonies surge to the fore, while thunderous drums and a euphoric hook escalate the song’s drama. It offers a timely reminder that challenging experiences will in time fade in favour of a better future.

The band, completed by Tara Wilcox and Chess Whiffin, commented: “‘Gold’ stemmed from the idea of something becoming more beautiful after being broken. We had chatted about the Japanese art form kintsugi, which repairs pottery with lacquer mixed with gold. This was the perfect imagery for what we were writing about. Our scars are a visual representation of our struggles and our stories of loss are stories of survival. ‘Gold’ feels even more connected and poignant now, after a year of so much loss and everyone just trying to survive.”

The single release is accompanied by the stunning official video. Directed and shot by Jackson Ducasse (Dua Lipa, JC Stewart), it was filmed in the Northampton countryside and sees The Wandering Hearts surrounded by beauty and nature, perfectly complementing the sentiment of the song. Watch HERE.

The album will also feature ‘Over Your Body’, and will be released on CD, LP, cassette and download and is available to pre-order HERE.

The band’s Official Store also has exclusive signed bundles including T-shirts, limited cream LP and gold cassette.

‘Wild Silence’ propelled The Wandering Hearts upon a remarkable journey. After a personal invitation from the legendary Marty Stuart (who wrote and performed on the new song ‘Dreams’), they became the first British band to make their USdebut at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium and then play the Grand Ole Opry in the same week.

An early career highlight came at the UK Americana Awards, where they won the Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award and performed with Robert Plant, Mumford & Sons and Imelda May. Two years on the road followed, which included sold-out headline tours, opening for Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks at Hyde Park, and support slots for Lukas Nelson and Justin Townes Earle.

The Rose Petals – Military Man (Spotify)

“The fresh Country sound that you need to listen, is out now. Leading acoustic guitar chords bring harmony in your soul and welcome the Spring sense. Very notable singing and overall result that you'll remember for a long time.”

The Rose Petals, fronted by songwriting partners Peter Donovan and Elijah Ocean, take off their rose-colored glasses in favor of a historical lens on the folk rock "Military Man," the latest release from the band's debut album American Grenadine.

Donovan says the song was written about the Eisenhower era and the false notion that there was ever a time when everyone was living the good life.

"American Grenadine is an album about American legends and tall tales, specifically those involving our Presidents and First Ladies. Most of these stories are inspired by actual events. But, over time, the details become tailored and exaggerated to the point of mythology - their subjects commemorated as our de facto American gods," says Donavan. "'Military Man' was written about General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the myth of the 1950s. The Eisenhower era is often remembered as a time of great prosperity. But in reality, not everybody was enjoying the good life. One in four Americans was living in poverty. However, after fleeing to the suburbs (via a brand new Interstate Highway System), the flourishing middle class was able to largely ignore the growing urban decay. Today, we usually think about the picket fences and the two-car garages. We wax poetic about the 'good old days.' We find the past much easier to digest through rose-colored glasses."

American Grenadine, the debut record from Los Angeles pop-rock band The Rose Petals, has been over a dozen years and thousands of miles in the making. The group’s songwriting duo, Peter Donovan (All the Real Girls) and Elijah Ocean (Rolling Stone named his 2018 single, “Down This Road,” one of its top 10 best country and Americana songs of the week) first met in 2008, but it wasn’t until Donovan embarked on a cross-country tour of U.S. Presidents’ graves in 2016 that The Rose Petals came to fruition. On that trip, Donovan and Ocean wrote over 20 songs, 11 of which comprise the group’s debut record, American Grenadine. Using jangly guitars, sparkly tambourines, and tantalizing harmonies, the album tells the unseen stories of 11 U.S. presidents and their wives, from Warren G. Harding’s postmortem scandals (“The Kids All Sent Their Pennies”) to Dolley Madison saving irreplaceable valuables like a copy of the Declaration of Independence and a painting of George Washington when the British came to attack the White House (“Chesapeake Leopard”). Far from a political statement, though, the songs on American Grenadine are not intended to be a celebration or an admonishment of their subjects. They’re stories about life, love, power, and death. They’re snapshots of threads in the American tapestry, as seen through the eyes of our very fallible American presidents. Ultimately, American Grenadine, through crisp layers of guitar and emotive vocal lines reminiscent of both R.E.M. and Gin Blossoms, proves that these powerful men — these seeming American gods — were just as imperfectly human as the rest of us

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