Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – June 16

Liza Anne, Samantha Crain, Grant-Lee Phillips, George Winston, Black Pumas, St. South

Clockwise from top left: Liza Anne, Samantha Crain, Grant-Lee Phillips, George Winston, Black Pumas and St. South.

Every week, there’s a plethora of new music at our fingertips.

Artists on platforms like Spotify and Bandcamp are plentiful, and the radio offers a steady deluge of new singles, but who has time to sort through all that? RIFF does!

We pooled our resources to find some of the best new singles from all genres and backgrounds, so you can find your newest earworm without all the drama. Enjoy this week’s hidden gems.


Black Pumas, “Fast Car” — Many consider Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” one of the most remarkable songs ever, and rightfully so. With just a lone voice, an acoustic guitar, some light drumming and a story to tell, the tune presents itself in such an understated manner but still hits with undeniable poignance. Black Pumas honor that in their cover of the 1988 cut. The Austin duo does justice to the song’s original melody, adding subtle embellishments here and there from guitarist Adrian Quesada and Eric Burton’s soulful vocals. You can hear Chapman’s influence in the song’s arrangement and, personally, on the members of Black Pumas. The line, “I had a feeling I could be someone” resonates especially deeply.


Grant-Lee Phillips, “Straight to the Ground” — Grant-Lee Phillips continues the conversation on chasing after something bigger in “Straight to the Ground.” Over a yearning melody, the folk songwriter sings, “Everything here just reminds me that I’m missing out.” It speaks on something that many of us undoubtedly feel, maybe now more than before. Phillips has noted that inspiration came from his days as a teenager eager to get out into the world. He also considers the topical relevance it has now: “When I sing it today; however, I can’t help but think of my own 12-year old daughter and all the kids whose lives have been disrupted by this pandemic—all of those graduation ceremonies and markers that have been snatched away.”


George Winston, “A Change Is Gonna Come” — Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” speaks volumes on the intentions of Black Lives Matter. It has been referenced across marches, protest signs, and musical tributes—the latter including a piano cover by acclaimed pianist George Winston. He shows respect to Cooke’s legacy as one of the earliest and most influential figures in soul, along with his inspirational voice and musicianship. Winston’s soothing keys resurrects Cooke’s timeless stories of hope, bliss, and romance. The accompanying video features images of protests worldwide marching for Black lives, to help spread awareness of BLM.


Liza Anne, “I Wanna Be There” — Though bright and dreamy in tone, Liza Anne’s “I Wanna Be There” reveals her true feelings right away. “I felt the lights inside of you just go down/ I felt the lights inside of me going out,” the Georgia artist sings in the opening lines, introducing a draining, declining relationship. Her vocal approach, in turn, is affectingly tender as she dives deeper into a heavy-hearted stream-of-consciousness delivery. The power pop direction is new for Liza Anne, whose previous albums were rooted in folk, but the shift feels completely natural—a catalyst for her self-reflection and resilience.  


Samantha Crain, “Pastime” — Every layer of Samantha Crain’s latest single is absolute splendor. From the singer-songwriter’s compelling vocals and bassy background hums, to the whimsical melody, “Pastime” flourishes with all of Crain’s emotions. The song explores some unhealthy habits done in the name of love, but ultimately comes together with a gained sense of self-awareness. The video also practices emotive storytelling, but through improvised execution. In a news release, Crain said her unique narrative approach is a nod to the community she grew up with in her hometown of Norman, Oklahoma.


St. South, “Not Angry Yet” — The several stages of grief, denial and clinging onto unanswered questions involve many inevitable first steps into new territory. Those initial periods are exactly what St. South’s “Not Angry Yet” sums up—tangling everyday routine with the Australian artist’s inescapable thoughts. “I hang out the washing/ I’m not what she wanted/ I’m folding the laundry/ Was my bed too hard for you after all?” St. South delicately sings. Confessional, vulnerable and softhearted, the song yields to the messy nature of processing, letting anger and eventually acceptance sink in.


Chloe’s Pick: You know something’s good when it stops you in your tracks, and that’s exactly what happened with Black Pumas’ cover of “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. I couldn’t write about it right away because of the feelings it brought up in me. Though its lyrics resonate with me in some way, this cover is one of very few I’ve heard where I can noticeably hear how the original song hits home for the artist covering it. That makes the performance even more special. This cover introduced me to Black Pumas as a band, so I’m excited to listen to more of their material.

Follow editor Chloe Catajan at Instagram.com/riannachloe.

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