RGM Recommends – The Singles

Savannah – Lemon and Honey

London-based songwriter Savannah Roberts paints a picture in delicate shades of folk with this, the title track from her debut album. The album as a whole is high-concept; each track recounts a different aspect of growing up, and the record is accompanied by a ‘visual album’ version.

Despite the imaginative context in which it was formed, this song stands up on its own merits. Melodically wistful, the lyrics concern love and parenthood; the combination is as bittersweet as the song’s title suggests. Subtle musical touches add depth to the otherwise simple soundscape, as key chimes echo the vocal melody and harmonies glide around the edges. Finally, a twinkly dreampop outro rises out of the song’s delicate coda, giving a hint as to what the rest of this ambitious album has to offer. Certainly a pleasant and rewarding listen, courtesy of a young artist with a wealth of creativity.

Crowned In Chains – King Suffering Part II

From the well-established crowd of post-Linkin Park rock/hip-hoppers comes California quartet Crowned In Chains, whose latest single ‘King Suffering II’ is a lament on the subject of relapse and, aptly, a sequel to a previous album track.

From the song’s slick, melancholic pop intro, the band are clearly aiming for a big feel. Unfortunately, the production sheen does as much to hinder this cause as it does to help it. Yes, the scale of the instrumentation sounds stadium-ready, but the sound is more than a little lacking in edge. The vocals- both sung and rapped – are rendered passionless by the song’s overproduction, and the guitars sound plastic and ineffectual. There are some really nice sonic flourishes courtesy of the string accompaniment but, like the rest of the song, this fails to pack the punch that the band are clearly trying to throw.

Not to be clichéd, but Crowned In Chains would do well to turn things up to 11 and let a little bit loose. They wouldn’t have to sacrifice their pop sensibilities to do so, but they might grab listeners’ attention a little more urgently.

Charlotte Bettson – COVID-XM45

Brace yourselves, here come the Covid Christmas Carols…

It was almost blindingly clear that a raft of artists would be queueing up to write festive anthems about “these unprecedented times”. Expecting it doesn’t make it any better. The only way to tackle such a predictable subject is to sidestep the most obvious lines; sadly, Charlotte Bettson hasn’t managed that here.

Make no mistake, this song rises and falls in all the right places for a yuletide single, with some big chorus moments that would sit well on any festive playlist. However, the songwriter has made a list of Covid clichés and checked it twice, before moving on to the common themes of a Christmas single. The line “we’ll keep a distance…this Covid Christmas” is particularly – and painfully – uninspired.

There are some nice moments – among other lines, the moment that Bettson mentions the uni students trapped in halls is poignant and pertinent. However, this attempt at capturing the spirit of 2020 for a novelty hit was almost doomed to fail due to the well-trodden path that is all things corona. Better luck next year.

Arcwords – Give It A Minute

Twinkly, funky retrowave has become indie du jour over the last few years, and it is a distinct version of this sound that Dublin’s Arcwords offer on latest single ‘Give It A Minute’.

On the surface, this song has a lot in common with the big hitters in today’s indie-pop. However, the vocal croon and shimmering guitars suggest a real knowledge in 80s pop, as the progressively retro vibe unfolds through the song’s three and a half minutes. ‘Give It A Minute’ tackles feelings of uncertainty in modern hook-up culture; aptly, the song’s vibe is sexy but not self-assured. The colourful collage of guitars and synths mean that this single will appeal to fans of guitar pop and 80s throwbacks alike; elsewhere, the hyper-processed lead vocal was a risky choice, but adds additional charm to the slick synth soundscape.

In a word? Bop.

Steven Cade – Two Less Lonely People

Originally released last year, Nashville singer-songwriter Steven Cade’s ‘Two Less Lonely People’ serves up a slice of radio-ready country pop, with all the trimmings.

The combination that forms the backbone of this song – poppy beats and twanging guitars – is absolutely nothing new, but is pleasing to the ear here as much as ever. Lyrically, all the expected bases are covered; the singer is in the bar with a jukebox on (“Singalong, Sweet Caroline, Free Fallin’, Summer of 69”), comparing finding love to restringing his guitar and refilling his truck with diesel. He is also sipping beer throughout.

‘Two Less Lonely People’ deals in the currency of clichés; but as anyone will tell you, that is a charm of the genre, and a charm reflected in this song. Overall? It’s pleasant and occasionally catchy, if not the most memorable effort.