Florida-born indie folk singer Chris Staples is equal parts creative and pragmatic. In addition to serving as frontman for Discover America and bassist for twothirtyeight, playing backing gigs with J. Tillman and world tours with the Seattle-based rock outfit Telekinesis, the guitarist and songwriter makes a living as a travelling carpenter, working construction jobs across the country. It was during one such construction job that Staples got his big break. Staples happened to be working on the home Josh Rosenfeld, head of Seattle’s Barsuk Records when two of his songwriter friends, Matthew Caws and Michael Benjamin Lerner played Rosenfeld an album Staples had recorded. Rosenfeld was impressed by the simplicity and clarity of Staples’ songwriting, and is releasing the album, American Soft on August 12th. The album, Staples’ third solo release, ranges from the soft, romantic lead single “Dark Side Of The Moon” to the bouncy pop track “Black Tornado” and the slinky ” Needle Park.”
Staples explains that “Dark Side Of The Moon” draws inspiration from its namesake classic album. “The Pink Floyd album of the same name is pretty vague in its meaning,” he said. “It’s the second-best selling album of all time. There are message boards dedicated to interpretations of Dark Side of the Moon. I’ve read hundreds of interpretations of what this album means exactly. My song is based on someone’s idea of what that album is about. It’s really a song about people who obsess about hidden messages or meanings. Maybe the album meant nothing and that’s why it resonated with so many people. It was vague enough for people to construct these visions within the album Pink Floyd made.”
Listen to “Black Tornado” from American Soft and read the Songspace Daily Discovery interview with Chris Staples here.
After graduating with a degree in architecture on a full-ride scholarship and getting fired from two jobs, Caroline Rose loaded up her van and began a cross-country musical soul-searching road trip. She calls herself a “failed scholar and modern-day hobo,” and has been living and writing in the same van since 2012. With a soulful voice that sounds much older than 24, her songs are inspired by her southern roots in Mississippi with elements of folk, blues and rockabilly. This mix of styles along with lyrics that chronicle her wandering adventures come together in her debut, I Will Not Be Afraid, out August 19th on Little Hi! Records.
The consummate bohemian artist, Rose values her free-spirited ways over critical or financial success. “I travel a lot, almost constantly, I don’t have a home, nor do I have much money or clout,” she said. “But I also don’t have anyone telling me how to live or how to act or what to say. I’ve got the freedom to create the life I want for myself, and that’s a rare, very special privilege.”
Listen to the haunting first release “Tightrope Walker”, inspired by a friend’s experience in the impoverished school systems of rural Mississippi.
JACOB THOMAS JR.
“Living out here on my own, like a half-hearted lost rolling stone,” Jacob Thomas Jr. warbles in “Justine” off his debut Original Sin, released this June. The title track sets the tone for the Louisiana-born troubadour’s songwriting persona – a hard drinking, weed-smoking cowboy with a cold heart and a case of wanderlust.
The album includes a melancholy acoustic version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” featuring Lily Costner, the strikingly honest “Bored With You”, (“you were okay for a while but like I always do, baby I got bored with you”), and the lovesick prayer “St. Christopher.”
Since moving to Nashville seven years ago, Thomas has shared the stage with fellow outlaws like Eric Church, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. His stories of vice and pain are a far cry from his childhood, performing in worship services as the son of a mega-church preacher, but reflect the place he says he feels most at home.
“I found more sense of community in bars than I did during my time in the church,” Thomas said. “I’ve found that bars are more accepting and in a bar you can be honest about the shit in your life.”
Hear Jacob Thomas Jr. duet with Lily Costner on a cover of “Go Your Own Way.”
Hannah Georgas began her career acoustic guitar in hand, playing the Vancouver folk scene. Nowadays you’d be more likely to hear the British Columbia native experimenting with a synthesizer than strumming a folksy ballad. But underneath the electroncia, Georgas insists she still retains the essential qualities of a singer-songwriter – in particular, an emotional connection to her material.
“There are a lot of times where I’ve felt quite vulnerable and anxious, and I get frustrated with feeling sensitive and wish I wouldn’t have to think so hard about the fact that I think so hard all the time,” she said. “Maybe I wouldn’t be a musician, though, if I was like that.”
Although her self-titled sophomore album was released in 2012, it’s come back into the spotlight after the upbeat, millennial anthem “Millions” was featured on an episode of the hit HBO series Girls this February. Other tracks from the LP include the angry heartbreak of “Somebody”, the sugary, party-all-night dance track “Shortie” and the dreamy “Elephant.”