One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, singer-songwriter, Ray Lamontagne explains how Stephen Stills saved his life. One of six children raised by a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, Lamontagne – who barely made it out of high school left his family for Lewiston, Maine. Bored, going nowhere in his life and doing some serious soul searching Ray was in Lewiston working long hard hours in a shoe factory when he experienced a musical epiphany.
For the uninitiated - and those unfamiliar with her music - Jonatha Brooke has been making solo records that bridge folk and pop since the mid-Nineties. Prior to her solo career, Jonatha was a member of The Story, a duo that also included Jennifer Kimball. Their 1989 debut, a collection called Grace In Gravity, was originally released on the folk-based Green Linett record label, and the band was promptly signed to Elektra Records.
Welcome to the shape of jazz to come. He is pianist and singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum, currently one of a handful of “twentysomething” “jazz” artists interpreting pop songs old and new, and writing originals on his own unique terms. Cullum’s album Twentysomething, and his charismatic, energetic shows land him in the States as a bonafide UK superstar. Superstardom in the UK rarely assures success in the States (ask the Smiths and Robbie Williams about that), however, early stateside reviews of Cullum’s new album and his sensational stage show are pointing towards something new and interesting coming our way.
July 14, 2001 approximately 11 months (count ‘em – 11) after Five For Fighting and John Ondrasik released America Town, John was on stage at XPN’s Singer-Songwriter Weekend and still on the brink of commercial success. John sat down at the piano and played the opening chords to “Superman,”
In early 2002 WXPN listeners and members got their first taste of the sounds and music of Citizen Cope on his self-titled debut record on the Dreamworks label. Fusing soulful, down-home grooves with pop sensibilities, Cope’s record quickly found a home on 88.5 and developed a nice following in our listening areas. Cope’s debut was smart, intelligent, high quality music for an integrated world. Not afraid to take on weighty, social, cultural and political issues in his lyrics, he’s both a realist and an optimist. Songs like “If There’s Love,” “Let The Drummer Kick It,” “Mistaken Identity,” and “Contact” quickly became staples on the radio dial at XPN, as did Cope’s collaboration with Santana on the song “Sideways” from Santana’s Shaman album.
One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, Charlotte Martin is a remarkable new talent. In 2003 Ms. Martin released an EP called In Parentheses that signaled her engaging arrival. An intense piano-laden collection of confessional songs in which she demonstrated her amazing vocals, it was but a hint of the magic she would ultimately release on her full debut album, On Your Shore.
A fantastic new artist is emerging from the acoustic music world and she’s one of our Artists To Watch for 2004. Nashville singer-songwriter Adrienne Young’s debut album is a beautiful, well-crafted and passionate collection of songs that brings to mind the work of artists like Gillian Welch, Mindy Smith and Nickel Creek in their musical context and breadth. Like each of those artists Ms. Young is a unique artist with a compelling vision and message. She’s a neo-traditionalist comfortable with old-timey music who spins it out in a modern, contemporary world.
An understated gem, Josh Ritter’s second album Hello Starling is an album not to be missed this year.First listens to this Idaho-born singer-songwriter will reveal touchstones as familiar as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, even Tim Hardin.
There are some artists that just don’t act their age. And in the case of XPN Aritst To Watch Michael Kiwanuka, that's a good thing! The fact that this singer-songwriter is in his early 20’s will be the last thing to come to mind (if at all) when you make your way through his debut album Home Again. Kiwanuka is the latest in a wave of British soul and R&B singers to captivate audiences. And while connections to his peers like Adele exist, he paves his own path to our ears with the songs of Home Again.
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals have come a long way from their blues-rock beginnings in Waitsfield, Vermont. For Grace, she's finally emerging as the superstar frontwoman that so many of us knew she had the potential to be. And on the latest album, The Lion The Beast The Beat she grabs hold of the spotlight and seems unwilling to let it go. We know what a commanding presence this band, and Grace in particular, can be on stage, yet until now capturing that on record has been a challenge. The Lion The Beast The Beat may be the step in the right direction.