Back in March, the ethereal independent Australian singer songwriter Erin, who was formerly known as Esmé, released her single ‘Still’ with collaborators Dave Godriguez and Ken Allars.
The production balanced Erin’s stunning soprano vocals with a gradual build of cinematic synth, a deep pulsing bass line, strings, and choppy percussive tones, which when all combined created something mesmeric, with a balance of tone which seemed to lean to the light with Erin’s voice taking the listener down a path of mysticism and spirituality.
This sensation was added to by the dreamy visual, which featured Erin dressed in stunning white against a backdrop of deep greens and healing water. Whilst the feeling was positive, the essence of the visual was like a rewind of the stillness of nature. There’s a feeling the lyrics are about trying to save a love by rewinding. This feels like a song before a split.
At the time, Erin said of the production and the sound created with Godriguez and Allars:
“I gave them a very fragile melody, with no expectation of likeness to anything else or intentional message to convey. Dave (Godriguez) and Ken (Allars) are both artists that I have a beautiful connection to musically and I simply leave the music in their hands. It’s exciting to see what comes back and rewarding to hear each time that the three of us naturally fulfil a role that the song needs”
The song for me seemed to have so much more depth than the production at the time gave it, and this is not any sort of criticism at all, simply an observation of how production can change the feel of a lyric and the sense of the voice. Erin was happy with the single, or else she wouldn’t have released it I’m sure, but obviously felt there was more to the song than just one facet.
If the original was the light, then the new release of the song offers more dark for me; and offers the perfect dreamscape alternative to the original release. There cannot be shadows without light in life and this new release perfectly addresses the dichotomy of light and dark which seemed to be bubbling under the surface of the original version. This time the song seems reflective, and has the essence of a love still burning, but there’s a feeling this is the after to the first song’s before.
This time, in the visual, the scene is set entirely differently. The song starts with the unmistakable sound of a cassette player button, which immediately offers a nostalgia to the song that the contemporary feel of the original visual didn’t have. The video is stripped back, the artist dressed completely differently. The plants are house plants, not the lush vegetation of the first release. Everything is different and yet the lyric remains the same; it’s a perfect illustration of the ambiguity of the word still. Whilst we can stand surrounded by nature and be engulfed by the stillness of what is around us, anxieties calmed by the still of the environment, we can also think of the word in the sense of something unchanging, like a love unchanged echoed by the lyric refrain “I still want you”.
The two versions of the songs are like halves of a broken heart, and there cannot be one without the other, and yet, I feel there is hope. The song could easily be happening in a sultry Paris Jazz club, the melodic guitar strains and the subtle brass, the dreamy delivery, the climax to light orchestration is full of longing and for that reason hugely moving. Every listen delivers more nuance, more emotion, more depth. I love this new version; it’s a beautiful love song.
Erin says of the song:
“I wrote ‘Still’ on the 15th October 2019, a few days after I had returned home from Vietnam. I know the date because I still have the iPhone voice memo. My guitarist played this pretty little French sounding guitar line. He was just improvising a little to himself but I immediately heard the rest of the guitar melody in my head. I sang it back to him to copy me and he put some beautiful chords to it. I sang ‘Still’ over the top, the words and the melody coming all at once and it’s the only song that’s ever written itself that way for me, so seamlessly”
It feels seamless, and the way these two songs sit together, both brilliantly produced by Ken Allars, both making me feel different things convinces me there really couldn’t be one without the other. I recommend you go listen to both versions and I promise you that the more you listen to one the more you’ll draw from the other. For me, it still amazes me the lyrics are identical in both songs and proves what an outstanding artist Erin is; to be able to draw such different emotions with the same words completely echoes the dichotomy of light and dark and promises a huge future for this singer.
Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.
For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.
Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.
Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.
The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!
Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”
Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners.
Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!
With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.
“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”
With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video.
Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.
‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.
This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.
“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”
The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak.
The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.
The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”
The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial.