The Tree


JC 2

A bleakness of mood that evokes Nick Drake.

Phrasing that raises the specter of Jeff Buckley.

British songwriter and photographer J.C. Wrightson’s stark songs are instantly ear catching. Deceptively simple on first listen, they are minimalist in nature, and grainy in texture, and it is there, in that bit of a blur, that you feel the rub: Wrightson’s songs are not as simple as they sound, not simply sad, not simply vulnerable. They are those things, but they are also something more. A finger crooking, not so much in invitation, but to indicate direction: it is here, look here, in the seam of the song. Listen to the words, and also, listen to the words that are missing.

Something existential this way comes, disguised as an emo neo folk song.

J.C. Wrightson’s brief Twitter bio mentions that he’s living in Stockholm, but that’s pretty much all I know about his personal life. I started this post months ago, and tonight Wrightson’s website is down, so I can’t include the bio that I’d made a note about, the one that I apparently thought was, “as romantic as they come.”

Hopefully I can find out more about J.C. Wrightson in the future and update this post, but I’ve already waited too long to get this song up. Here’s The Tree, recorded live in Carlisle, UK. After you listen to it, you may want to check out the music video below. Nothing is Forever had me holding my breath, waiting to see what would happen—and so much happens, and nothing happens. Beautiful, and heartbreaking, and like The Tree, the video for Nothing is Forever is deceptively simple, and a killer. 


Coal, Pressure, Time


Coal, Pressure, Time is the latest musical effort from Bandleader, a talented indie group fronted by Vermont singer songwriter Patrick McCormack.

When Patrick contacted me and said he was kickstarting a new project, I was super excited and immediately became a supporter. The campaign was a success, and Coal, Pressure, Time, was released earlier this month. Today I’m psyched to share my favorite track from the CD, Can, Have, Will, a beautiful song that starts with a perfectly recorded guitar part and a vocal that brings Nick Drake to mind—a Nick Drake who isn’t so detached.

The casual, conversational vocal style of Can, Have, Will also reminds me of one of my favorite records of all time, an alt/country CD called Trace, from Son Volt.

Can, Have, Will is full of sweetness. The tune is uplifting, and the lyrics are both a promise, and an apology.

Trust in me I’ll be your first

Drop the reigns, girl I can take your worst

I can take your worst


Speak to me, I’ll lend an ear

Tell me things like no one else should hear

You know it’s crystal clear


I owe your body and your soul for being so cold

I mistreated you, but I can make it right again

I can, I have, and I will


Seagull bones and stones you keep

Take them home, reminds you of the beach

When you went with me


Make it known our souls will keep

Spoken code scripted underneath

Scripted underneath


I owe your body and your soul for being so cold

I mistreated you, but I can make it right again

I can, I have, and I will

As someone who once recorded in a converted barn in upstate New York, I can imagine what it was like for Bandleader to set up a temporary studio in an old hunting lodge in the wilds of Vermont. Two words: Dream Session. Love this description from Bandleader‘s press kit:

“About an hour from familiar territory, the hand constructed hunting lodge sat cold in the remaining snow beside its recently thawed brook. Only here could the band escape cell reception and all responsibility to focus solely on the task at hand. They recruited trusted collaborator and Chicago based engineer, Jamie Carter. With a mutual dedication to the same ideals, they kept an unbroken focus on distilling a moment, and preserving expressions . . . The release of Coal, Pressure, Time marks the dawn of a young, ambitious band with a solid and determined path. With both eyes on the horizon, Bandleader carries on in search of new and fertile grounds on which to rest their amps.”


Nearly two years ago Sirenstories featured Ovenbird, one of the songs Patrick McCormack recorded as a  solo artist. It remains one my favorite songs on the blog. Please check it out here.  As far as the band, “Bandleader came together as a result of front man Patrick McCormack‘s quest to bring his singer/songwriter material to the stage. After recruiting three other like minded musicians, the band quickly outgrew the notion of playing backup, and instead, an unpredictably colorful sound took life.”

In our back and forth, Patrick explained, “The group consists of myself, Jordon Chamberlin, and Alex Cseh. Our bassist, Dan, is no longer a part of the band, officially. Though he is filling in at our next show, we are currently searching for a new bassist.  At the moment, we consider ourselves a three-piece, that’s the core group.  No hard feelings whatsoever with Dan, he just had too much on his plate, and lives 40 minutes away from us.”

Dan? You might want to rethink that commute.


Please follow Patrick McCormack on twitter and Bandleader on fb.

PS Isn’t the album art gorgeous? I’ll share info if I get it. Meanwhile, who wants a t-shirt? Yes, please.

London Calling

The first time I listened to Thinkin’ of You, I thought just maybe, Nick Drake was alive and well and hiding out in the UK.

But although the Brits aren’t lucky enough to have Nick Drake in their midst—sadly, none of us are—they do have Idris Davies.

Idris DaviesThinkin’ of You opens with acoustic guitar sans effects, pretty much good demo quality, and that’s fine, because when Idris’ voice comes in and begins to quaver with vibrato and emotion, that’s all we want to hear.

Thinkin’ of you is a love song, and even though it’s labeled ‘folk’, there’s something about the vocal phrasing, the way the notes are delivered so smoothly, that makes me think of jazz.

Listen to the way Idris Davies sings the two lines,

You make a mountain a molehill baby
You make a thousand miles feel local

He makes one note melt into the next, almost like a clarinet, or butter.

There are no jazz chords here, but still, there’s a breath of blues, although again, no blues progression.

Idris Davies has me thinking of him, yes, and Nick Drake, but also strangely enough, Nat King Cole.

This is what Idris Davies had to say about the collection of music that includes Thinkin’ of You.

The Sternhall Sessions began when the first 4 songs were recorded in my home in Peckham. The rest make up a collection of songs that I wrote and/or enjoyed playing around the same period.

All of these songs are sketches, none of them are perfect, and only some of them finished. Make of them what you will but please, and if you like or dislike please let me know by leaving a comment.

Peace and love,


Thinkin’ of You

The Mornin’s come, I’m layin in the cool yellow sun,
I’m free from sound, everythin is still – there’s not a soul around,
But I don’t care cos I know somewhere
You’ll be thinkin of me
Thinkin of me.
You make a mountain a molehill baby
You make a thousand miles feel local
An I’m thinkin of you,
Thinkin of you.

I’m movin on with the day. The sun is high, of it there’s no escape.
Family come and go, and once again I’m here alone,
But I’m not alone – your heart tells me so,
Cos you’ll be thinkin of me,
I think you’re thinkin of me.
You make a mountain a molehill baby,
You make a thousand miles feel local
An I’m thinkin of you,
Thinkin of you.

Evenin’s here, baby how I wish you were near.
A record plays low, the sun is sinkin now it’s time to go.
The sky is on fire, full of our desire
Yes you’re thinkin of me,
Thinkin of me.
You make a mountain a molehill baby,
You make a thousand miles feel local
An I’m thinkin of you,
Thinkin of you.