A few weeks ago, I wrote a column detailing five songs I wish I had penned. Writing that column made me realize just how many great songs there are in the world, most of which have been heard by far too few people.
So, I felt compelled to follow up with five more songs from people who I think of as stars in the songwriting firmament.
“Understand Under,” by Nathan Moore
I first heard this song years ago during a Troubadour Session at High Sierra Music Festival. High Sierra puts songwriters together for late-night in-the-round shows -- one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of. Nathan busted this song out and people were flattened. It's a stream of consciousness desire list. It is the daydream we all had when we were children. It had me whooping and hollering like I had witnessed the MVP just bust out his most famous play.
“Ain't That the Way,” by Devon Sproule
Devon is one of my favorite musicians in the world. She is a righteous player, her lyrics are clever and nimble, and she is utterly fearless with her art. I love her new album Colours so much that I wore out the vinyl. This song is from a previous album, but it's become a sort of anthem for touring songwriters. She says "I asked God for a good man but I forgot to say / I want to see him every day." This is a bit of deconstructed rock version, but it's so much fun to watch. Devon's work is otherworldly.
“Crying Out,” by Carrie Elkin
This chorus of this song says, "I'm lonely now, I know it's hard for you / I know you know what to do / I know it's hard for you." I feel like the honesty in that moment sums up most relationships. Carrie is so honest in her work, explaining her perspective with gorgeous focus. You are transported to a dark bedroom with the windows open. There's a breeze blowing through, dogs are barking, and you don't quite have a grip on where your life is headed. Yet, at the same time, the tune is beautiful and wistful. "I'm in the bluest note," she sings. "I'm in a boat alone."
“Smaller Scale,” by AJ Roach
There are a multitude of songs of AJ's that I wish I wrote. His song "Chemicals" is one of the most heartbreaking love songs I've ever heard. This is not that song, though. This is AJ's account of hard living in San Francisco, driving a cab. The words go by so fast, and each word is crucial, so you may have to listen twice. He is pretty much out of the touring business right now, as based on his viral blog, but his songs will never fade.
“Words,” by Rachel Ries
This classic-sounding track is Rachel's anthemic and upbeat song about writer's block. She writes lilting birdsongs with classic melodies and tanglewood trails for lyrics. But according to this song, she had a two-year dry spell. I love this one because it feels like a coming home, a joyous return to self.