Hemifrån is an independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden, specializing in, what they call, “gut music” – The kind of music that you can feel in your gut, no matter what. Hemifran is promoting a lot of singer-songwriter, westcoast-pop, country, AOR and more. Here are featured some of their latest news – it is not all west coast, but dig into it!
Wendy Webb – Step Out Of Line
American singer songwriter Wendy Webb releases her 5th studio album ”Step Out Of Line” on Spooky Moon Records. Songs written under a Nashville skyline with an urban attitude attracted legendary musicians Wayne Jackson, David Grissom, Mark T Jordan, Willie Weeks and Dan Dugmore to record with Webb. The record consists of 9 original songs along with a haunting electric piano rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’, a stunning tribute that pays homage to her Midwestern roots. The recordings took place in a private residence in Nashville where Webb co-wrote and co-produced with engineer Mark Keller. Webb says, ”Having a house in town made the recording more organic and convenient for studio players to stop by after their day sessions to play on what I thought were some artful demos. Imagine the thrill of hearing Wayne Jackson, founding member of the Memphis Horns, blow that incredible trumpet solo on ‘Step Out Of Line’ in the living room, and know you captured that performance. Jim Horn played sax on ‘Destiny’s Muse’ in the dining room. I sang and played piano on Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’ live in the living room and Dan Dugmore added the gorgeous pedal steel solo. Each musician’s contribution was over the top. It was an extraordinary experience and very exciting”.
Originally from Iowa and self taught on guitar and piano, Wendy moved to Los Angeles where she was fortunate to meet Joni Mitchell’s engineer, Henry Lewy, who offered her studio time and mentoring. She recalls, “That’s when I learned about recording and my own performance”. More information at Hemifran.
Hat Check Girl – Two Sides To Every Story
Hat Check Girl is the collaboration between 2 seasoned performers, Annie Gallup and Peter Gallway. ”Two Sides To Every Story”, their 6th release as a duo, is a collection of 10 songs, written in pairs, collected in 5 chapters, with interludes and an epilogue. Peter and Annie share vocals and instrumentation, and are joined by Jerry Marotta, on drums and percussion. Peter Gallway emerged from the Greenwich Village scene of the 60’s and had released 3 albums on Warner Bros/Reprise by the time he was 25. He subsequently put out over a dozen more recordings on various independent labels. As a producer he’s been involved in more than 50 albums including the Grammy nominated ”Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village In The ‘60s” and ”Time & Love: The Music Of Laura Nyro”.
Annie Gallup is the winner of numerous songwriting awards, including Kerrville New Folk. She grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, immersed in the arts. By the time she recorded her first album in 1994, she had internalized a songwriting style all her own that evolved from her fascination with country blues, her love of words, and a dancer’s sense of rhythm. Her 11th solo recording is scheduled for release in the spring of 2017. More information at Hemifran.
Jude Johnstone – A Woman´s Work
Born in Bar Harbor, Maine, Jude Johnstone began writing songs at about age 8. At 18, she was discovered by Bruce Springsteen’s saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. After spending some time in New York and New Jersey under his wing, in 1979, she moved to Los Angeles, where her songs quickly became sought after by other artists. She has been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Bette Midler, Johnny Cash, Stevie Nicks, Jennifer Warnes, Trisha Yearwood, and many more, including a #1 song for Yearwood’s debut album, called “The Woman Before Me”, which earned her a BMI award. She also penned the title track to Johnny Cash’s Grammy winning album “Unchained”. She now resides in Nashville, TN. Jude has released 6 CD’s of her own, and is about to release her 7th CD, called “A Woman’s Work”. More information at Hemifran.
Runaway Horse – Beautiful Blue
Austin, Texas, based ethereal americana band Runaway Horse is set to release their debut album, ”Beautiful Blue”, on January 20th, 2017. Led by singer songwriter Mari Tirsa, the album draws the listener in with the sounds of an American frontier coupled with the far reaching influences of our dream world. It is both grounded and cosmic, grabbing the listener immediately while revealing its many layers with repeat spins. Tirsa blends earthy folk like vocals and plaintive ethereal tones with sparse and drifty guitars, keyboards and percussion to create a hypnotic cosmic americana vibe. A native of New Mexico, Mari Tirsa writes songs that strive to connect the dust and toil of the landscape to the vast and otherworldly skies above. Together with her carefully curated band of musicians, she bridges grounded Americana folk with the ambient sounds of our dream world. Her music expresses the experience of cosmic consciousness and oneness.
Produced in Austin at Rubicon Studios by Daniel Barrett and featuring Rick Richards on drums , ”Beautiful Blue” is almost hymnal, carrying the listener from dark night of the soul moments to redemption and grace through the raw sensuality of the natural world. More information at Hemifran.
The Furious Seasons – Look West
“We’re not done yet, not by a longshot”, sings L.A. veteran David Steinhart on ”Look West’s” opening gem “Longshot”. And though he’s singing of a relationship, it’s utterly true of his muse, too. Having gone canyon rock, country, pop, western on last year’s ”My Love Is Strong” with pleasing result, he goes one better, decamping with just his and lead guitarist Paul Nelson’s acoustics and harmonies, making western folk that shines the sharpest light on his pure strengths over now 21 LP’s in 32-years, beginning with ”Pop Art” and ”Smart Brown Handbag”, his remarkably seasoned songwriting and storytelling. Regret, nostalgia, melancholia, distaste, and resigned philosophizing can be cloyingly dull in mediocre hands, Steinhart’s ruminations are warmhearted, tender, considerate, and appreciative, not for so much lost, but what remains. “I would love to see your face before another winter, before what’s coming next”. Let us not take him for granted, especially when he’s on top of his game like this.
“The album’s instrumentation is complex despite only being comprised of the trio, and Paul Nelson’s swift hand on guitar deserves special recognition. From the nostalgic wandering a European city late at night classical riff to introduce “A Thing to Behold”, to the beautiful solo on “Simple & Clean”, his melodies are the pulse of every song. Even more than the gorgeous guitar, however, it’s the impeccable songwriting and heartfelt lyrics that lift this album up the furthest. Every track on the record is emotionally vulnerable, honest, and accessible. You’ll spend all fall unpacking the layers.
The Furious Seasons’ 5th release, “Look West” is a perfect departure from last years lush and orchestrated “My Love is Strong”. With “Look West” David Steinhart’s penchant for catchy melodies and story line lyrics are still firmly intact, but this time they are tackled by an acoustic trio that highlights the stories and creates a warmth that David and his brother Jeff haven’t achieved since the early days of their mid 80’s band, Pop Art. Jeff Steinhart plays a stand up bass for the first time in his career and guitarist Paul Nelson’s agile solo’s and harmonies helps “Look West” create a sound all it’s own. Not folk in the traditional sense, the folk, pop album soars with deep personal stories and melodies that will stay with you for long stretches.
The album concept was born out of months of 3 piece shows played in Southern California, including shows in support of John Hiatt, David Lindley and AJ Croce. Scott Campbell recorded a few of the tracks live in a home studio in Hollywood set up for Shelby Lynne. Tim Boland at White Light Studios in North Hollywood recorded the lion share of the album. More information at Hemifran.
John Cee Stannard – To The River
Just over 3 years since John Cee Stannard launched his blues career with “The Doob Doo Album” in 2013, comes his 4th studio album “To The River”, with the title track, “Run To The River” due for release as a free single on January 6th, 2017. This album comes from much the same mind set as the previous ones, yet has its own individual feel. It is similar, yet at the same time, quite different. For the first time John Cee included a choir, inviting them to join him on 2 tracks, “Run To The River” and “The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me”, adding to the gospel feel which these 2 tracks already had. “River” reminds us that ultimately we have to pay for our actions, whilst “The Good Lord” deals with ultimate loss, and how that can make us question the point in anything.
10 of the 12 tracks are written by John Cee. The other 2 include John Cee’s interpretation of the Jelly Roll Morton classic “Winin’ Boy Blues” and a completely new and original reworking of the traditional “House Of The Rising Sun”, which owes more to Woody Guthrie than the Animals, and is delivered with an energy and intensity which is very much of today. Once again there is a smattering of accomplished guests. Renowned musician Simon Mayor returns to add his creative fiddle playing to the rag influenced closing track “Nothing Is What You Get” and the driving train song “Let The Train Whistle Blow”.
Matt Empson also returns to add his unique piano style to the closing track, as well as the preceding slow and mournful “Ain’t No Livin’ With The Blues”, which also benefits from a fine solo from blues guitar virtuoso Jason Manners. Sensational vocalist Julia Titus also joins John Cee for several tracks. As well as providing superb backing vocals, she also shines in a couple of solo spots. As usual, band mates Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore provide some excellent guitar and harmonica work, and once again, John Cee has called in the rhythm section of Julian Bown, drums, and Andy Crowdy, double bass.
John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon continue to build their reputation with live performances, and this album is sure to help them on their way. More information at Hemifran.
Johanna Lillvik – S.T.
The debut EP of Johanna Lillvik is just the tip of the iceberg. Though having written songs from an early age, this is the 1st time ever that she unravels her poetry mind and clearly colourful compositions on an available recording. Many years of performing as a singer, and an artist in various projects, have rendered her a reputation on stage, but her plentitude of songs are still quite unknown to the main audience. They have bred in the dark, with strong melodies and bewitching rhythms. Some are ready to hatch at the beginning of January 2017 and show their beautiful plumage.
Johannas influence on her debut is omnipotent. As a composer, writer and as a producer, she really sets the conditions for her pieces, yet the music shows a great deal of creative interaction with her excellent fellow musicians. Her voice hovers over the supportative arrangements that distinguish the different character of each one of these 5 tracks. Critics have twisted their heads trying to define the genre she plays, since she fearlessly moves across the borderlines of many. Wether or not she will be the inventor of one in the end, I wish you a safe flight if you wish to take off with Johanna Lillvik as your pilot. Don´t forget to buckle up!. More information at Hemifran.
Deni Bonet – Bright Shiny Objects
”Bright Shiny Objects” is the brand new release from New York-based violinist, singer and songwriter, Deni Bonet, due for worldwide release on Zip Records, (distributed by Sony/RED, US and PIAS/Rough Trade, BeNeLux) on January 27th, 2017. It’s no secret that Deni Bonet can rock a violin like nobody’s business. Or that she writes memorable songs that make you want to listen again and again and again. Anyone who has heard her last few albums, especially 2013’s ”It’s All Good”, knows that ms Bonet has always brought something extra special to the table. However one listen to ”Bright Shiny Objects”, and you’ll know this particular record takes on a completely different life and direction.
In a departure from her usual song based material, this album is entirely instrumental, Carnegie Hall virtuosity intertwined with a rock club vibe and intimacy. That doesn’t ring your bell? Try Yitzak Perlman playing lead for AC/DC. Deni has spent the past year and a half writing and recording with a who’s who of some of the best musicians on the planet, including Steve Gaboury (Cyndi Lauper), Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel), Richard Barone (Bongos), Shawn Pelton (SNL), Will Lee (Letterman), Matt Beck (Matchbox Twenty), Steve Holley (Paul McCartney), Graham Maby (Joe Jackson), Ben Butler (Chris Botti), Mike Visceglia (Suzanne Vega), Jack Daley (Lenny Kravitz), and the list goes on and on. It’s difficult to try and describe, or unnecessarily, classify, Deni’s music, and that’s a good thing. There are certainly elements of straight forward rock, classic styled pop and pure american folk, but she takes all of this and makes it wonderfully her own. This new album is sheer, ultra high voltage rock with pure classical training and precision playing. She’s a whirling dervish, a streak of aural and visual lightning wielding a violin bow. Her songs make you want to get up and dance around the living room, or groove to while walking up the street wearing headphones. Even without the vocals, you can hear the passion and emotion in Deni’s performances.
The opening track, “Light This Candle”, recalls the more skilled moments of alt-rock, “Einstein’s Brain” is a finessed blend of the poetic nature of a violin intertwined with the chime of a 12-string electric guitar (Mozart meets The Byrds) and the delicate yet dramatic texture of “Primal Dream” is filled with emotion, one doesn’t need lyrics to feel what is being said. And check out her updated cover of the classic “Frankenstein”, which begs to be used over the credits of the next Marvel movie. For years, Bonet has been honing her craft as a violinist, singer, songwriter and performer. She is, simply, a musical total package. Whether fronting her own band of outstanding players, or collaborating with anyone from Cyndi Lauper to R.E.M., to Sarah McLachlan to Irish rocker, Mundy, Deni has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting, dynamic and entertaining performers on the live circuit. Although classically trained, Deni quit the classical world because she hated having to wear black and sit still. She was an original cast member of National Public Radio’s premier music show, Mountain Stage, performing in her own right and accompanying guests like Richard Thompson, Warren Zevon, and the Indigo Girls, before leaving the show to form her own band.
She has performed at Lilith Fair, Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, and just recently performed at the White House for the president, 1st lady and vice president. She has been described by the Wall Street Journal as like “Sheryl Crow meets the B-52’s”, and music from her 5 independent CD releases has been featured on HBO, NBC, American Airlines and in several movies and modern dance pieces. More information at Hemifran.
Citizen K – Second Thoughts
”For those of us still alive and well enough to remember actually having lived through the Beatles dominated music world of the mid 1960’s, through the early 1970’s, you will recall that the double album was all the rage, having established itself as a major rock music statement in 1968. Flash forward nearly half a century later and what you have in your hands is ’Second Thoughts’, the long awaited 2017 double album by Sweden’s very own Citizen K. Known in his homeland as Kla…s Qvist, Citizen K has clearly spent a lot of time listening to that 1968 double album classic ’The White Album’ and, in the spirit of the Fab Four, the uncanny combination of Citizen K’s vocals, songwriting and guitar work is very much on display here, as are key contributions by album producer and engineer Tobias Walka, drummer Kim Gunneriusson and other fine musicians. ’Second Thoughts’ echoes the spirit of the 2009 album ’Meet Citizen K – Somewhere Up North’, but certainly, ’Second Thoughts’ drives the Citizen K sound even further. ’Second Thoughts’ contains 23 tracks of vital pop exuberance with 4 instrumental interludes that offers yet another fresh direction. Even casual pop listeners will find a gem or two, while more devoted and inquisitive music fans will totally devour ’Second Thoughts’ and its endless smorgasbord of big beat pop and memorable rock songs. In this way, Citizen K will challenge the world.” ~ Robert Silverstein, Music Web Express 3000. More information at Hemifran.
Bob Cheevers – Selections From Fifty Years
Celebrating his 50th year as a songwriter with over 3 000 songs to his credit, Bob Cheevers offers a 5 disc retrospective box set called “Fifty Years – A Semi Century Of Songwriting”, featuring 83 songs covering his 1st half century of songwriting. His early years growing up in Memphis gave him a taste for the r’n’b and blues flavor of the Mississippi Delta. After college, Bob headed for Los Angeles and left the place where he and Elvis were hometown boys. 25 years in the pop field resulted in a number of chart hits under his own name and the band he was part of called The Peppermint Trolly Company. One of their credits was singing the theme song to the TV sitcom “Love American Style”.
The historical changes of the 60’s played no small role in Bob’s life which, during that time, also included representation by Neil Young’s and Joni Mitchell’s management team. The power of change of that period began the life long journey of Bob discovering his musical and personal voices which in no time began to show up in his songwriting. A true artist emerged. His LA Criterion Music publisher had an office in Nashville and suggested that Bob move there, because he was being pitched as a songwriter and an artist. Already an Emmy winning songwriter, Bob was invited to be a show opener on what was to be Johnny Cash’s final tour after which Cash chose to record one of Bob’s songs. In 2009, after 16 years in the Nashville songwriting machine, Bob headed for Austin to concentrate on being ’the artist’ in his own right. After only 3 years in Texas, Bob became the Texas Music Awards Singer Songwriter Of The Year.
His 10 commercial CD’s offer a wealth of characters some of whom are real and others imagined. “Fifty Years”, with its range of songs in jazz, rock, singer songwriter, folk and country genres, expand that wealth. Being a seasoned, journeyman performer, his many miles on the road have given him a fine tuned musical voice and endless stories to tell. The spinning of his rootsy, blues flavored tales of life in a language of the heart provide Bob the roadmap for his journey. His Austin pal Ray Wylie Hubbard says, “Bob Cheevers is one cool scarecrow gypsy poet who writes and sings”. More information at Hemifran.
Miss Tess – Baby, We All Know
On her new release “Baby, We All Know”, Miss Tess continues to explore her own personal crossroads of American roots music. This full length release features 11 finely crafted and well sung original songs. Heightened by Tess’ prowess on her Weymann archtop guitar, she is accompanied by her top notch band, The Talkbacks, featuring guitar ace and co-conspirator Thomas Bryan Eaton. The songs were further enlivened with piano, organ, pedal steel and fiddle in the studio. Tess says “I consider this my best yet collection of original music. In writing these tunes I stepped out of myself and into many different characters, based on real life and my imagination, and pulled sounds and stories from my musical fantasyland. Baby, we all know their secrets and on goings, in a world of mischief and troubled fun”. These songs were penned at Tess’s yearly writing retreat in New Hampshire, and at her home in Nashville. Yet time and place don’t bear much relevance here, the subjects she speaks through live in the streets of New Orleans, in the backwoods hollers of Tennessee, on a train heading to Mexico, and under the sheets.
Tess got her musical start at home in Maryland, her childhood nights ending in music. Her parents would sing her to sleep with the gentle, tender sounds of American folk songs, occasionally interrupted by their 30’s swing band rehearsing in the basement. Tess studied pianomas a child, and continued on as a teenager to take up the guitar and singing, and eventually began her own studies in early jazz and blues. All grown up, Miss Tess & The Talkbacks regularly steal the show at venues with something a little rowdier and more eclectic. Infused with classic country and honky tonk, southern rhythm and blues, New Orleans jazz and swing, and sounds of swamp pop and early rock ‘n’ roll, she is an embodiment of everything that it still homegrown in America. Miss Tess has been releasing albums and leading a band for over a decade, spanning her career over many different cities, including Baltimore, Boston, New York, and her new home base of Nashville, TN. Straddling her move from New York to Nashville, the new album was recorded in both cities. The recording cast includes her steady band mate and co-producer, Thomas Bryan Eaton, producer Dan Knobler (Rodney Crowell, Tift Merritt), Robin Macmillan, Jake Silver, Roy Williams, Stefan Zeniuk, Eric Frey, Dominic Billet, Kai Welch, John Pahmer, Aaron Shaffer Haiss, Oliver Craven, Maya De Vitry and Caitlin Canty.
A follow up to 2012’s “Sweet Talk” and 2013’s “The Love I Have For You”, both released on Signature Sounds Recordings, “Baby, We All Know” will be released independently. As she expands and grows more into her own sound, Tess is still hard to categorize. She says “Many times after the show, somebody will come up to compliment the band and ask me what kind of music we just played. After mumbling through a few different genres I usually just tell them it’s my music and hope they enjoyed the show”. Enjoyable is just what “Baby, We All Know” is, propelled by the classic quality of Tess’s vocals, compelling and totally believable. The production throughout is the right balance of punch and rhythm, without getting in the way of the vocals or songwriting, giving this collection of songs a plentiful dose of old school swagger. Time after time, Miss Tess is able to utilize sounds and styles from a past era combined with modern sensibilities to present an authentic and engaging presence. More information at Hemifran.
Surrender Hill – Right Here Right Now
Surrender Hill is a duo out of Sedona, Arizona. The duo started performing together in 2014 and is made up of South African, Sony recording artist Robin Dean Salmon and singer songwriter, Afton Seekins, who was born in Alaska and raised in Arizona. Surrender Hill has just completed their 2nd album. The album, “Right Here Right Now”, was recorded at Eastwood Studios in Nashville, TN. The album features a fantastic lineup of musicians including Paul Griffith on drums, Eric Fritsch on bass and Mike Daly on pedal steel. Surrender Hill’s debut was released in April of 2015 and the duo has toured internationally since. The debut album was recorded in Sedona, AZ, with additional recording, mixing and mastering done in Nashville, TN. All of the songs on both albums were penned by Seekins and Salmon.
Surrender Hill’s sound is acoustic guitar and vocal driven with lasting hooks and melodies. A comfortable blend of americana, country and roots rock. Although this will be Surrender Hill’s 2nd release, it will be Robin Dean Salmon’s 12th album release. Salmon has spent his life working as a performing songwriter, musician and producer. He has 2 album releases with Epic/Sony and 8 albums released on various indie labels. Salmon has been nominated for 2 New York Music Awards and has performed throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa. Robin’s touring and recording career has been extensive and he has worked with a very diverse group of artists, such as Rodney Crowell and Cyndi Lauper to Modern English, Al Perkins and Kenny Vaughn.
Afton Seekins is no stranger to the stage. In addition to being a performing singer songwriter, Seekins spent 8 years in New York City working as a professional dancer and choreographer. Her work has been featured on networks such as MTV, VH1 and NBC. More information at Hemifran.
Michael Lanning – Words Should Mean Something
Michael Lanning began performing in theatre at the age of 9. With an extensive background and training in music and theatre, Michael has been a featured performer in many theatre companies including San Bernardino Civic Light Opera and the legendary Summer Stock, Junior University. Michael has recorded and/or toured with such musical greats as Donovan, Fleetwood Mac, Rockpile, Larry Gatlin, Frank Wildhorn, Mike Post and George Harrison. Michael’s band, Jiva, was the first American band signed to the Harrison label, Dark Horse Records, with George serving as their executive producer. Michael’s distinctive, yet versatile, style made him a top session vocalist for national television and radio commercials for over a decade. As an actor and a singer, his credits include Steven Bochco’s “Coprock”, ”Wayne’s World”, “ER”, “Thunder In Paradise” and “Baywatch”.
A songwiter and a music publisher, Lanning’s songs have been recorded by producer and guitar legend Dave Edmunds, The Stray Cats, French recording star Slyvie Vartan and many others. As a musician, Michael has mastered guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, drums and percussion, And, is a hunt and peck pianist. Sorry, mom….. Michael starred in both the Tony nominated Broadway and national tour productions of composer Frank Wildhorn’s “The Civil War”. He played Dozer in the world premiere musical “Mask” at The Pasadena Playhouse, based on the motion picture, starring Cher. He was featured as ’The Preacher’ in the world premiere musical “Bonnie & Clyde” at The La Jolla Playhouse in the winter of 2009 and at The Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, in the winter of 2010, and on Broadway at The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in 2011. He was also a featured vocalist for 6 years with The Trans Siberian Orchestra and was introduced as “the most soulful white man on the planet”. More information at Hemifran.
Kurt Deemer Band – Gaslight
The debut CD by the Kurt Deemer Band,” Gaslight”, stands apart in both content and execution. Drawing on the angst of americana rock and the melancholy of alternative country, Deemer’s songs feel strangely familiar, yet vital and new. The swirling dream time arrangements forgo the formulas and emerge lean yet fully embellished. Pedal steel and hammond b3 rise from the mix, catching the ear for a second before fading into the background, subtle enough that you might have just imagined them there. A pop sensibility from long ago prevents anything from getting in the way of a great song.
These are stories of personal disillusionment and partial redemption, about finding one’s place in the world having being eaten alive and swallowed whole, but still emerging alive and kicking. A sense of grace and mellow alienation runs throughout the compositions. Our anger has turned to disappointment coupled with a determination to persevere. We have grown to accept that some true sadness will be woven into the fabric of our lives and we’re okay with that. The result is not bitter, it’s hauntingly bitter sweet, like a chance meeting with an ex-lover. It is the intimate journey from being authentically broken to cautiously hopeful, in all of its intense and uneasy glory. This is impassioned detachment at its nuanced best. More information at Hemifran.