The Bomb Shelter Sessions/Self-released
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Audrey Rose strikes a chord on her latest EP, The Bomb Shelter Sessions. These five songs have a beautiful grittiness that conveys a young woman’s struggles, joys, pains, and moments of respite in a powerful way. “Rising Up” parlays a subtle acoustic opening into a raucous tune, mirrored by the line “Trouble’s rising up,” and “Run” is a sexy piece of echoing pop rock about freedom. “Stars” is the dreamy mid-tempo rock number you might expect from the title, while “Sky to Fall” flexes a unique ambient-meets-acoustic sensibility that isn’t found elsewhere on the EP. But for this reviewer’s money, “Southern Cross” is Rose’s pièce de résistance—soulful, skyscraping vocals, over kinetic rock courtesy of an organ on fire, and lyrics like “Stones that I have thrown/Remind me of my own sins,” place Rose at the height of musical prowess and passion.
At the end of 2011, Jillian Edwards released a gem of an album entitled Headfirst. Mixing ambient folk and pop sensibilities together with ease, and augmenting insightful songs with rich, breathy vocals, Edwards revealed herself as an artist to watch. Daydream proves to be no less intriguing. Edwards muses on everything from love to forgiveness (“Apologies”) and offers a stream of consciousness look at what makes her such a complex woman on “Room”. She charms you with lovable pop rockers like “A Thousand Years,” and the title track is a lush piece of spine-
tingling, ambient folk. A number of the tracks are lyrical tributes to a lover or a friend, but her loyalty is to God (the swelling orchestral pop track “Sink My Feet” is a great example of this), and on the acoustic finale “Just a Little While,” Edwards makes clear her intention to soldier on until Christ returns.
Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes
Kid Tiger/Deer Head Music
Break out your dancing shoes for this one. Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes’ sophomore record is a locomotive with a head full of steam. Whether channeling bands like Paper Route on the piano track “Idle Warning” or sending up hooks galore on pop numbers like “Ready Set,” there is never a dull moment. The jangly, echoing synth rock that guides “Tourniquet” is infectious and the opening rocker “Waves” is loaded with soaring melodies. Ellsworth’s vocals navigate higher and lower registers with ease and frequency, and when paired with the right song—“Idle Warning,” for example—the results are downright sexy. “Little Light” is a curve ball and arguably the album’s most accomplished number—a stomper made epic by saloon-style piano and thick ’70s-era classic rock touched off by warped audio that defines Kid Tiger as one hell of a good time.