Archive for the ‘folk/roots-rock’ Category

As We Get Very Close to the End of the Month, Two Songs About Winter

December 30, 2018

Tomorrow is my final post for 2018 and I’ve rounded up some great end of the year tunes including a scratchy golden oldie from the late, great Aretha Franklin.

Tonight I’m going to feature a two songs about winter, Arlington from the Wailin’ Jennys and Long Winter by The O’Pears.

The Wailin’ Jennys are a Canadian band formed back in 2002. Through the years they have won two “album of the year” JUNO awards, one in 2005 (40 Days) and again in 2012 (Bright Morning Stars). The title of the band is a pun on the name Waylon Jennings (get it?).

Arlington is a song about winter but as one reviewer states, the song “asks some very deep questions about existence, belief and faith.” Arlington is a track from the band’s first album, 40 Days.  It’s a beautiful song.

The O’Pears are a contemporary folk trio based in Toronto. They released a Christmas record this year titled Stay Warm (which I may feature next year). The song I’m featuring tonight, Long Winter is from their first album, Like Those Nights. Great tune to head us into the long winter.

The Wailin Jennys – Arlington

The O’Pears – Long Winter



Old Time Religion and Midnight Mass

December 24, 2018

It’s Christmas Eve so a short post tonight featuring two songs.

This first is a folk-inflected version of the old hymn, Stars of Glory (go here for the lyrics). The band is The Lower Lights. They describe themselves as “a gospel-folk collective that’s diving into the Christian songbook– familiar hymns, lost gems, Hank Williams tunes, Christmas songs, and more. Drawing on equal parts reverence and celebration, [we] have landed on a sound that’s part-revival, part-vigil, and steeped in tradition without drowning in it.”

The second song is titled Midnight Mass from Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of the band Keane (whose song, Somewhere Only We Know, was featured in the 2013 John Lewis Christmas ad).

Chaplin released Twelve Tales of Christmas in 2017 and says Midnight Mass is “quite possibly his favorite song on the record.” The song is “based on a true story of an old guy who ran a London dog club. He died shortly before Christmas without any close family and friends around him but a memorial was held and attended entirely by the owners of the dogs from his club…and, of course, their faithful friends.”

As one reviewer put it, Midnight Mass will “bring a tear to even a cynic’s eye.”

The Lower Lights – Stars of Glory

Tom Chaplin – Midnight Mass


“Acoustic guitar. Gentle voice. Feel the ambience.”

December 19, 2018

OK. That headline is a bit hokey. However, it came from the 2012 original digital download of tonight’s featured artist and song, Gareth Davies-Jones’ Love Came Down. The song tells the story of Christmas featuring an acoustic guitar arrangement with Davies-Jones on vocals.
Davies-Jones is a Christian artist from Ireland who regularly donates concert and tour proceeds to charities such as Christian Aid, Toybox, Tearfund and several others.
His music regularly receives accolades:

“There is something about the sound of Gareth’s voice and guitar that moves my spirit to a better place….masterful songwriting.”

“…a deliciously inviting, roots-infused sound that avoids any folk clichés and maintains a breezy pop hue that is sure to appeal far beyond any genre boundaries.”

“… just gets better listen after listen.”

The song Love Came Down is from Davies-Jones’ 2012 Christmas record, Nine Lessons. says Nine Lessons is “….a refreshing, beautiful and tranquil album that gives a traditional yet contemporary feel to the oldest of songs……honest, understated and earthy without the sugared elements typically found in popular festive music.” And I agree, it is quite good.
Davies-Jones is releasing another Christmas record this season but not in time for this post. I’ve heard it. It’s excellent and is already penciled in to next year’s rotation.
If you’re a fan of simple acoustic music, Love Came Down is right up your alley.


Gareth Davies-Jones – Love Came Down

The Importance of Mary

December 18, 2017

On May 25 of 2011, a Timothy Dalrymple published an article at titled, Everyday Transcendence: Patty Griffith’s Mary in which he discussed the importance of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Dalrymple is an evangelical and stated evangelicals “have done a spectacular job avoiding Mary. ” Paraphrasing  Christianity Today’s Scot Mcknight,  Dalrymple says Mary has “become little more than a delicate piece in a Christmas crèche, whom we bring out without comment at Christmas and then wrap up gently until we see her again next Advent.”

Raised a Catholic, I belong to an evangelical church and I cannot argue Dalrymple’s point.

Mcknight powerfully explains who Mary really is:

“Mary utters poetry fit for a political rally, goes toe-to-toe with Herod the Great, musters her motherliness to reprimand her Messiah-son for dallying at the temple, follows her faith to ask him to address a flagging wine supply at a wedding, and then finds the feistiness to take her children to Capernaum to rescue Jesus from death threats. This Mary followed Jesus all the way to the Cross—not just as a mother, but as a disciple, even after his closest followers deserted him…Like other women of her time, she may have worn a robe and a veil, but I suspect her sleeves were rolled up and her veil askew more often than not.”

Dalrymple argues evangelicals should not ignore Mary but in doing so “miss out on some extraordinary parts of the New Testament; we miss out on a deep and rich vein of theological and spiritual insight that Christians of many stripes have mined over the centuries; and we miss out on a powerful image of biblical womanhood.”

How does the Patty Griffin song fit in?  Dalrymple puts it this way:

“That last point [on the powerful image of biblical womanhood], most fundamentally, is why I choke up when I am washing the dirt from my daughter’s legs, or the yogurt from her hair, and Patty Griffin’s “Mary” drifts out from the speakers.  The young Mary — the one who was “highly favored” and, when charged with an extraordinary task from God, responded “I am the Lord’s servant” and “my spirit rejoices in God my savior” — that’s who I want my daughter to be as a young woman.  The older Mary — the one who followed Jesus to the cross and wept at his feet, the one he loved so much that he provided for her welfare even from the cross, and the one who cared for the body of her crucified son, and ultimately the one who lost her sons for the sake of the kingdom and yet persevered in her faith — is who I want my daughter to be when she has matured in body and soul.”

“God favored Mary and chose her to be the Theotokos, the bearer of God the Son, the incarnate Word.  If Mary is not the bearer of God, then we are not saved.”

That’s a pretty powerful argument.

And it’s a great song.


Patty Griffin – Mary


Humming House – Winter Dress

December 2, 2017

Humming House is a “folk/roots-rock” band based in Nashville. I happened across them after discovering NoiseTrade videos on youtube. (More about Noise Trade in a second). The band formed back in 2012 and has just released their 6th record, Companion this past October.

Some accolades:

“Put Humming House on your list of Must-See Acts of 2015.” Huffington Post

“Party-worthy roots music.”

“…infectious and grin-inducing.” American Songwriter Magazine

“…they have a sense of fearlessness that allows them make the kinds of musical choices that lift their music far above the average.” Roughstock

“…a solid Americana band with Irish folk influences and a tight live show.” Consequence Of Sound

“A new Nashville band with a throwback sound.” All Things Considered – NPR: Blake Farmer

And after listening to a lot of their music, all of the accolades are well deserved. They’re very good.

The song I’m featuring tonight, Winter Dress, is not available via iTunes or Amazon. But is available for a free download via NoiseTrade.

The way NoiseTrade works is:

  • you register
  • and then to stream or download entire songs/albums, you give your email address to the band or label. they send you occasional info.
  • you can tip artists or bands too.

It’s a pretty cool system and there is a TON of really good and diverse music available (books and blogs too).

More from Humming House:

Official Website

Humming House – Winter Dress

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