Free Music Fridays: Hadley Kennary

original-withlove700Hadley Kennary has graced NoiseTrade — and the rest of us with three of her lovely songs. Kennary's NoiseTrade page compares her with Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, among others.

It is the other two influences — Joni Mitchell and the Indigo Girls — that separate Hadley Kennary from dozens, maybe hundreds, of other good young singers trying to sound like Michaelson.

Hadley Kennary has powerhouse vocals over which she exercises flawless control. She weaves the ethereal with lower tones and emotional depth. I think she begs comparisons with Zooey Deschanel with a slightly less retro feel.

"With Love, from Chicago" is the first track on this EP and is arguably the best. It's also her newest. The song is to a man who doesn't have time for her. It is about loss and it is an ode to the city. The lyrics are full of images and symbols without being cryptic.

The other two tracks are from her 2013 effort, In Fall. They suffer just slightly from the production. They're a little tinny, but nothing a good stereo couldn't fix. (I am listening to them on my computer, which doesn't do them justice.)

"In Fall" is a song to her father, or more likely, to God. The message here won't hit you over the head. The song is best when Kennary leaves off the backing vocals and trusts herself to carry the melody. This is good songwriting and great singing.

"Two Yellow Birds" has an interesting contrast, with decidedly classic country instrumentation against Kennary's decidedly not country vocals. It takes the familiar "If you love something, set it free ..." and puts it into a song about two birds with an arresting melody. The harmonies here work. It's repetitive toward the end, but that's the worst thing I can say about this lovely song.

Don't take my word for it. You can give it a listen or download it for free. If you do download, NoiseTrade will ask for your email address. You can also leave a tip.

Free Music Fridays: Youth

For lots of free songs this week, check my post at News for Shoppers. Here's my pick.

Discovering this artist, Youth, made me feel old, and not because of his name.

I listened watched the video to the song and thought this kid — he's 22 but he looks younger, at least to me — had amazing depth for his age.

I checked out his website and discovered that his name is Julian Dente. Which got me thinking. Could this be the son of Christine and Scott Dente, also known as Out of the Grey, also known as one of my favorite bands ever?

I read an interview, and sure enough, he is. Hence my feelings of oldness. I've been listening to his parents since their first album came out in 1991, long before artists could promote their music via streaming, and a couple of years before Julian was born.

I discovered them on a sampler cassette I got while buying something else that wasn't as good. I don't remember what that was, but it couldn't possibly have been as good.

Sorry, Julian. You probably live in the shadow of your parents enough.

But to my readers out there, Youth is an artist in his own right. His parents' musical influence is only evident in his skill, in his songwriting, and in his ability to render a song with just the right amount of emotion.

Give "Breathing Easy" a listen. You won't be sorry. It's free, but you'll be asked to give your email address.

New on Spotify: Fall Out Boy, Sleater-Kinney, Decemberists & More

Spotify is streaming several new albums this week.

It seems like this was a week for angry music. So young George Ezra is a refreshing change.

His album Wanted on Voyage is streaming only in the U.S. The project includes his hit "Budapest." The young British singer sites sites Bob Dylan among his influences. He is on tour, and nearly all of his U.S. performances are sold out through March.

Fall Out Boy has been offering singles from their project American Beauty/American Psycho for weeks, but the full album is now available to stream and buy. The band has the No. 1 album on iTunes. They will perform on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon tonight, Jan. 20.

Joey Bada$$' new album B4.DA.$$ follows Fall Out Boy on the iTunes charts.  The album released Jan. 20, the same day as the hip-hop artist turned 20, according to his Facebook page.

Marilyn Manson's The Pale Emperor was released Jan. 20 in the U.S. Manson will be on tour Jan. 21. He begins in the U.S., then heads to Australia, back to the U.S., then to Europe. His "Hell Not Hallelujah" tour name confirms that I'm not interested.

Mikky Ekko's Time is a little more my speed, but it's not one I feel the need to put on my playlist. It released Jan. 20. Ekko wrote Rhianna's hit "Stay." He is heading out on tour in late February.

The Decemberists' album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World released Jan. 20, as well. The release marked "The Decemberists Day" in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. But they won't stay home for long. They'll head to Europe in February, then return to the U.S. for several shows in March and April. 

Female punk rock band Sleater-Kinney, whose music I had the pleasure of being introduced to a decade ago, is back together after almost a decade. (I swear I'm not the cause of the breakup.) They're wasting no time hitting the road in support of their new album No Cities to Love, which released Jan. 20. They have shows booked in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Other new releases include Belle & Sebastian's Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, Ryan Bingham's Fear & Saturday Night, Hey Rosetta!'s Second Sight, Lupe Fiasco's Tetsuo & Youth, Above & Beyond's We Are All We Need, Hanni El Khatib's Moonlight, Zara Larsson's Uncover, and Ledisi's acoustic album The Intimate Truth. This last one deserves some attention. I hadn't heard of Ledisi, but these acoustic tracks are affecting. Give it a listen.

Originally published on News for Shoppers, but with less editorial comment.

Free Music Fridays ... on Sunday: Slospeak Records Sampler

It is perhaps not a good sign that it is still January and I already missed a Free Music Friday. In my defense, my two toddlers both have the flu. Mama work took over, but I have a few free tunes for you now. I promise they will be worth the wait.

It would be easy to miss Slospeak Records' sampler Slospeak in the Sky With Diamonds Vol. 1 on NoiseTrade. But you shouldn't.

The four-song album was recorded live by four bands I'd never heard of: Fever Fever, Talkie, Golden Youth, and Ravenhill.

The first song, "Hypnotized," is by Fever Fever (although you have to go to the company's website to be sure).

It's a bittersweet song about falling in love with the wrong person, and staying even though you know that person's "trance turns right into wrong."

"Lavos" by Talkie comes next.  It starts ethereal and quickly becomes raw, both in the vocals and the guitar, which keeps driving the song. It will haunt you. In a good way.

Golden Youth's "Where's Your Heart Gone" is the right mix of country-inspired but not quite country vocals with slide. The lyrics are a reminder not let your head win. But it's Stephanie Lauren Smith's vocals that carry the lovely melody.

"Witches" is a sharp contrast from Ravenhill. The blues tune is half rock anthem, half social commentary. And the fun of the sound — and this is a fun song — belies the seriousness of the lyrics. The juxtaposition is interesting, but I like it.

I read that Slospeak Records is an indie Christian label. If this is the future of Christian music, I am much relieved.

As always, don't trust me. You can download these songs for free by providing your email. And you can listen to the full tracks without doing that.