Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Dec. 8

Saint Sister, Lisa Hannigan, Su Lee, Serena Isioma, Cehryl, Black Violin, Oumou Sangare

Clockwise from top left: Saint Sister and Lisa Hannigan, Su Lee, Serena Isioma, Cehryl, Black Violin and Oumou Sangare.

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.


Su Lee, “Wide Awake” — K-Pop’s global takeover makes it clear that there’s no shortage of talent in the South Korean music industry. With nonstop bangers and elaborate choreography, it’s always a grand production. Now, Seoul-based artist Su Lee is giving the DIY scene over there its moment to shine. Lee’s latest single, “Wide Awake,” pushes for hope in these lonely, listless times. Her sound is full and heavy with reverb, while her sentiments and artistry are remarkably raw. Lee’s lush vocals and sing-song charm feel like a conversation with a good friend. On top of songwriting and production, Su Lee also put together the video. Her personal touch in everything she does offers a sense of connection, making her release all the more special. 


Black Violin, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” — If you’re like this RIFF writer, then you know that it’s time to queue up the holiday playlists again—especially the ones that sum up year-end ennui with a sprinkle of merriment. It’s easy to default to staples like Joni Mitchell’s “River,” but new releases and renditions keep the spirit fresh. Black Violin’s cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is a prime example of that, giving the Christmas classic a striking tenderness. As an ode that urges us to take care of each other after making it through tough times, its sentiments hit differently this season. The duo’s warm croons and weepy string interludes deliver that message with earnest poignance. The cover is off Black Violin’s first holiday album, Give Thanks, on which the duo gives 11 holiday cuts its signature hybrid hip-hop and classical treatment. 


cehryl, “angels (emily)” C.S. Lewis once said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable,” and cehryl’s “angels (emily)” is a stark reminder of that point. In this new single, the Hong Kong artist puts her heart on the line as she opens up to a love interest and makes sense of their relationship. “What have I got to be? Don’t keep me guessing,” she sings. Her hushed vocals over a delicate melody treat the situation with utmost care. And while the outcome isn’t revealed, cehryl’s heavy  heart leaves listeners with plenty to feel as it is. However, the cadence at the end does offer some hope that the love endures. 


Saint Sister featuring Lisa Hannigan, “The Place That I Work” — The new single from Saint Sister is not quite the meet-cute you’d find in a holiday film, but it’s just as heartwarming. “The Place That I Work” recounts the time Saint Sister’s Morgan MacIntyre worked as a Christmas temp at a bookstore. An old friend stopped by to make amends, and naturally, a rush of emotions ensued. From anger to relief, the duo and Lisa Hannigan retell the account with grace. Their vocals carry the song from start to finish as faint piano notes accompany the group. Though their voices vary between brightness and texture, all three collide beautifully, like opposite tides meeting at the coastline.


Oumou Sangaré, “Kamelemba” — Oumou Sangaré’s latest record, Acoustic, marks the third and final part of a series of releases over the last three years. The first two parts feature original compositions and fan-made remixes, while the last offers Sangaré’s work unplugged. The acoustic music video for “Kamelemba” immediately underscores the Malian musician’s stunning artistry. Sangaré sings with absolute conviction and control over her voice. Every note takes off with fullness and fades as if it were suddenly fragile—the contrast speaking to the song’s theme of love and lies. Her tenacity goes hand in hand with the plucky strums of guitar and bolon, each element a pronounced force that altogether creates an immersive listening experience. 


Serena Isioma featuring MAVI, “I Don’t Wanna Go” — While hybrid genres often go back and forth between sounds, Serena Isioma’s blend of R&B, alternative and pop is incredibly clean. From their soulful verses to a refrain that goes pretty hard, every element of “I Don’t Wanna Go” falls into place as one undeniable banger. Mavi’s feature fits in seamlessly, too, sparking a conversational feel within the song’s discussion of relationships and boundaries. The single is off Isioma’s second EP, The Leo Sun Sets. At just the second project, Isioma has already established such a solid, standout sound. 


Chloe’s Pick: Su Lee’s “Wide Awake” was so uplifting; I think I—and maybe most people—could use more of that energy these days. And even though her voice is elegant and lovely, I love that she made her music video show the more playful side to her personality. It’s so cool when artists take the DIY approach because the end result always feels straight from the heart, the ultimate labor of love; Su Lee proves that and I can’t wait to see what she creates next. 

Follow editor Chloe Catajan at Instagram.com/riannachloe.

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