The last few days have provided us with the finest weather of the year thus far, and although today’s forecast is promising the restoration of normality, my barbecue-filled weekend has inspired me to compile a vivacious playlist to chaperone me through the thoroughly soporific affair that is the British summer. I fully intend to ignore the inevitable shortcomings of the British weather system, and instead pretend that England lies slap-bang in the middle of the tropics. Here are five artists who will be helping me to sustain this illusion:
Those who know me well will be rolling their eyes right now, but I don’t care. The effervescent, ukulele-wielding singer from Manhattan brings an arsenal of cheery, cheesy pop-folk to the party. Michaelson is best-known for playful love ballads You And I and The Way I Am, but her lyrics contain depth that only becomes detectable after serious usage of the ‘repeat’ button. Her latest single, Blood Brothers, is a model example of how to combine serious commentary on society with fun and uplifting melodies. It’s music that allows, rather than forces, you to think.
The perfect listening scenario: Invite a few friends over for a barbecue, sit them all down with plenty of meat and sneakily put Ingrid on in the background. The ideal soundtrack to a summer evening.
Don McLean’s American Pie was my favourite song as a child, and may still be today. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes McLean so unique, but his voice exudes the emotion of Johnny Cash whilst maintaining the gentleness of Celine Dion. His Greatest Hits album is the singer-songwriter’s Holy Grail, a masterpiece the likes of which very few will be able to transcend. McLean is the man who Jack Johnson is probably trying to emulate.
The perfect listening scenario: Country road, windows down, mixing your thoughts with Don’s [Hills of forest green where the mountains touch the sky, A dream come true, I’ll live there ’til I die]. My personal favourites for this are Castles In The Air, Wonderful Baby and Vincent.
This dynamic folk duo from Canada are relatively unknown, especially in the UK, but I’m ever so glad that I stumbled upon them. Comprising of singer-songwriters Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac, they rely heavily on beautiful harmonies and lively melodies to compose memorable, catchy ditties. Come As You Are and The Good In Goodbye are the two songs for which they are most well-known, but their discography has plenty of depth and variety.
The perfect listening scenario: Best for an audience of one. You’re lying in a hammock in your garden, the sun is meandering its way through the sky, you’ve got a book in your hand and Madison Violet in your ear.
I’m From Barcelona
I’m From Barcelona are the happiest group of people you could hope to meet. All 29 band members originate from Sweden and contribute to the band’s wonderful cacophony through an outrageous number of instruments. It’s impossible to place their sound in a specific genre, so I’m just going to refer to their music as “happy”. The joy that they take in writing, playing and singing is evident for all to see in the music video for their marquee song We’re From Barcelona. There is no hidden message with IFB, no ulterior agenda. They exist purely for the purpose of making people smile.
Michael Gungor’s “Musical Collective”, Gungor are a mellow Christian folk band from Colorado, US. Gungor’s music is varied, both in terms of style and quality, so I’d find it hard to recommend a full album. However, some of their songs are unbelievably good. Everything that Gungor produce is genuine, sincere and intelligent. A Christian band capable of writing lyrics devoid of cliché is a rare thing indeed. It is music from the Bible that refreshes the soul.
Have a great summer!