2020 has been a frantic, hamster-on-an-ever-faster-spinning-wheel, groove-in-the-floor-from-running-frenetically-back-and forth kind of year.
I need a break. You no doubt need a break.
But Christmas holidays are some way off yet – four weeks sounds close but trust me, it is NOT close enough – and so while we wait for that magic last day in the office or for that last important task of the year to be completed, why not sit back and soak up the music of five artists who have some important things to say, but who say it in a way that soothes the soul and bring a little peace to proceedings.
Sit back, put your feet and try for a second to believe that this music is your world and that it is possible to stay calm and balanced and serene even while the world around is losing its mind and your life burns ever more rubber racing hither, there and yon …
“Blind” by Tash Palmer
Hailing from Sydney, Australian singer-songwriter has had more than enough of her lover’s lies, pouring out her self-recrimination in a song that sounds like an easy afternoon in a flower-filled countryside.
Embodying a very Scandinavian marriage of light music and dark lyrics, “Blind” is a lament about wanting so hard to believe in the purity of your romantic partner’s commitment to you that you miss obvious signs of their infidelity.
“How could I be so blind/I don’t know why/I don’t know why.”
The song is breathtakingly beautiful but heartbreakingly too, as we sit in the same space of betrayal, sadness and loss as Tash Palmer to moving, powerful effect.
“Always n Forever” (feat. Lil Baby) by Mariah the Scientist
Sporting quite possibly the best artist name of 2020 – there may not be awards for this but there should be – Mariah the Scientist (actually Mariah Buckles from Atlanta, Georgia) has delivered in “Always n Forever” a song which celebrates sticking by someone through the ups and downs that come with life and any relationship, which We Are: The Guard describes this way:
“… with glitchy samples and skittering trap beats underpinning Mariah as she pledges allegiance to her man: ‘But you shoulda known it/That I wasn’t goin’/And I know you noticed that changed/But I’ll be your woman always/Always and forever.’ Hypnotic.”
Set to luxuriously soulful music which feels like it has all the emotions in the world folded into a immersively lo-fi core, “Always n Forever” is a love letter like no other.
It feels like love and commitment set to music but also a song that admits that this love won’t always be perfectly expressed or right but that doesn’t mean it is worth holding onto with everything you’ve got.
“Settle” (feat. Sinéad Harnett) by BAYNK
One of the most unnerving places to find yourself in life is when you have met someone indescribably wonderful and have started seeing each other and everything is deliriously, magically lovely BUT, and it’s the but that sets the nerves on edge like nobody’s business, you haven’t absolutely commitment to each other.
“Settle” by New Zealand electronic producer BAYNK and featuring Sinéad Harnett, inhabits that uncertain space with great sensitivity and insight declaring “Baby, I’ve been dying to know/Are you someone I can call my own?”
This million dollar question is set to what We Are: The Guard describes as a “pillowy-soft piece of tropical-house” and it works brilliantly, evoking something so many of us have felt with a rich, emotionally-resonant humanity that cuts right to the soul in the most nuanced but powerful of ways.
This is real life set to music and it is for everyone who has fallen in love and wondered if the deal will be signed, sealed delivered in the way the heart so clearly desires.
“Here I Stand” (feat. Ms. John Soda) by Ryan Hemsworth
Canada’s Ryan Hemsworth joins forces with Germany’s Ms John Soda (runner-up but only by a whisker for the best artist name of the year) to create “Here I Stand” which We Are: The Guard describes thus:
“[The song is [a sonic stroll through an enchanted forest, with immaterial vocals, atmospheric guitars, and ticking beats intertwining to form a transfixing fairy tale of a listen.”
Lifted from Hemsworth’s 2020 album Pout, “Here I Stand” is a gorgeous song which talks about the tenacity of holding on and hanging in there even when there is no certainty of a particular outcome.
“Here I stand, here I am, holding on
Here I stand, here we are, holding on
Here I stand, here I hold my world in hands
Will I get, get it all done?”
“Please Don’t Make Me Cry” by Lianne La Havas (Jordan Rakei Remix)
“Please Don’t Make Cry” by British singer-songwriter-producer Liane La Havas (known to her family and friends as Lianne Charlotte Barnes) is an achingly soft and beautiful that gently begs a lover to be considerate and understanding of the singer’s history and emotional scars and do their best not to something that will hurt them.
It’s not angry or militant, just quietly pleading, a song full to the brim of emotion burbling away deep down that is coming to the surface with the singer admitting that “my heart [is] on your sleeve”.
It may not seem like the sort of song due for a remix because there’s so much naked emotion in the perfect musical setting but New Zealand-Australian musician-singer-songwriter-record producer Jordan Rakei has added extra layers to this immaculately affecting song as We Are: The Guard observes.
“As much as there’s to be said for the aching, longing original, it’s true Jordan has made this Lianne La Havas cut utterly his own, with spacy synths and cosmic basslines shifting the song into an entirely different groovy gear.”