Top Ten Thursday: Lina Saroza, Scott William Urquhart & Constant Follower, Joshua Radin, Dead Professional, Phasez, The Early Purple, Garland Kelley, The Only Carnell, Jacob Leo, and Kid Travis

Welcome to Top 10 Thursday at, your weekly destination for the freshest and most compelling music from across the spectrum. Each week, we curate a unique mix of songs that have not only caught our ears but have left an indelible mark, compelling us to share them with you. From up-and-coming artists making their first ripples in the music industry to established talents breaking new ground, we’re here to guide you through a sonic journey like no other.

This week, as always, we’ve been on the hunt, sifting through the vast musical landscape to discover tracks that excite us and challenge our expectations. From the soulful strains of indie rock to the pulsing beats of electronica, from the introspective lyricism of singer-songwriters to the high-energy anthems of pop, we’ve got a line-up that embraces the beautiful diversity of music.

So, sit back, plug in, and get ready to expand your musical horizons. Here are this week’s Top 10 Thursday picks, each one a testament to the endless creativity and passion in the world of music. We hope these songs resonate with you as much as they have with us. Enjoy!

Lina Saroza – “Playing in the Rain”

“Playing in the Rain” is an enchanting number from Cuban-born, Miami-based artist Lina Saroza, a piece that thrives in the crossroads of jazz, funk, and pop. Saroza, already acclaimed for her virtuosic sax playing, gracefully steps into the role of vocalist and songwriter, treating listeners to an invigorating blend of genres. The song presents an irresistible groove, crafted from playful drum beats and funky bass lines, proving to be the perfect accompaniment to Saroza’s sweet vocals. Her sax solos are an unexpected but utterly delightful addition, their soulful notes injecting the track with a sense of warmth and exuberance.

Saroza’s journey from sax player to singer-songwriter is a captivating evolution, her roots in American funk and heavy jazz merging seamlessly with her newer pop sensibilities. “Playing in the Rain” is a testament to this evolution, balancing a bright, pop-infused melody with more complex jazz and funk elements. The result is a tune that is as infectious as it is thoughtful, a buoyant anthem of optimism that encourages us to find joy even in the midst of life’s storms. Through her unique fusion of styles, Lina Saroza has crafted a musical realm that feels both familiar and intriguingly fresh.

Scott William Urquhart & Constant Follower – “Wildlife Cameraman (Summer Farm) feat. Norman MacCaig”

The collaborative album ‘Even Days Dissolve’ from Stirling-based group Constant Follower, led by Stephen McAll, and esteemed folk guitarist Scott William Urquhart, weaves a powerful narrative in which profound personal resilience meets thoughtful artistry. The single “Wildlife Cameraman (Summer Farm)” is a shining example of this creative fusion, exquisitely setting the poignant words of beloved Scottish poet Norman MacCaig to a deeply moving soundscape. MacCaig’s characteristic gentle humor and profound observation become the lyrical center of the track, while Urquhart’s masterful acoustic guitar adds layers of depth and emotion.

“Wildlife Cameraman (Summer Farm)” is an absorbing, atmospheric track that merges the talents of two gifted Scottish songwriters and musicians, while honoring the influence of MacCaig’s poetry. Urquhart’s acoustic guitar sets the tone, giving the song an elegant and robust aura, while his unassuming yet compelling vocals thread through the composition. The standout feature, however, is the addition of MacCaig’s inimitable voice, providing a deeply personal and emotionally resonant connection to the track. Stephen McAll’s daughter, Islay, contributes the main backing vocal, adding a layer of familial intimacy to the piece. This song encapsulates the synergetic essence of ‘Even Days Dissolve’, resulting in a uniquely stirring musical experience.

Joshua Radin – “Man of the Year”

With “Man of the Year,” Joshua Radin delivers an introspective track that probes the depths of his personal struggles with vulnerability. This single, the first taste from his upcoming EP, ‘though the world will tell me so, volume 2,’ is marked by Radin’s characteristic blend of gentle vocals and expressive acoustic guitar, framed in lyrics that unflinchingly explore his own intimate fears. There’s a raw honesty here, a confession of guardedness made in the hope of personal growth and a resolution to tear down the walls he admits to constructing around himself. Radin’s musical paradox, creating a world of emotional openness within his songs while grappling with personal defenses, makes “Man of the Year” both a tender appeal to a specific person and an invitation for listeners to share in his emotional journey.

Radin, a seasoned troubadour who has earned his stripes through a prolific musical career that spans more than a decade and a half, takes his artistry to new heights in this upcoming EP. Inspired by a soul-searching sojourn in 2022, he deftly converts his real-life experiences into stories told through music. “Man of the Year,” in its exploration of deeply personal themes, retains Radin’s signature blend of sincerity and sweet melody, further solidifying his reputation as a masterful storyteller. The way he transforms his life experiences into universally relatable narratives makes his music a connecting thread for his audience, inviting them to experience shared feelings and emotions. As Radin embarks on his upcoming tours, fans across Europe and the US are eagerly waiting to step into the world he creates with his deeply resonant music.

Dead Professional – “Now and Then”

In “Now and Then,” Dead Professional delivers a haunting indie-folk power-ballad that navigates the channels of nostalgia, doubt, and a sense of wistful romanticism. Aided by the layered production work of Matt Barrick, of Walkmen/Fleet Foxes fame, the track is an aural encapsulation of the artist’s musical journey, from his roots in noise-pop as a teen to his current standing as a seasoned folk artist. The song explores the pangs of memory and longing, of yearning for a time past that’s encapsulated in the recurring motif of a song. As he sings, “Every time that I find it, I let it play out ’till the end,” there’s a palpable longing for a past moment, a desire to recapture the feelings of a bygone time, a sentiment that many can relate to.

Emerging from a long hiatus triggered by a near-debilitating spinal cord injury, Dead Professional brings a new level of determination and resilience to his work. The rich narrative in “Now and Then” attests to the artist’s freshly ignited passion for his craft, and his resolve to push the boundaries of his songwriting and production. The song’s expressive lyrics illustrate a story that oscillates between self-reflection and outward observation, encapsulating the painful beauty of lingering memories. This track marks not just a return for Dead Professional, but a declaration of an artist who’s ready to seize the day, refusing to let adversity hamper his musical journey, and courageously delving into unexplored sonic territories. It’s a promising signal of what’s to come, an emblem of an artist evolving and pushing his boundaries, with an ardent carpe diem spirit shining through.

Phasez – “Feel Okay”

“Feel Okay” by Phasez is an indie/alternative new wave track that bristles with the raw emotions and complexities of relationship dynamics. The song takes listeners on a poignant journey, with the artist exploring the push-pull dynamics of relationships and the struggle of finding oneself in the midst of those connections. The lyrics like “I feel like everyone is leaving me these days” and “Are you there for me? Or will you find someone with better company” bring forth the universal sentiment of insecurity and the desperation to understand where one stands in a relationship. The hard-hitting lyric, “Keeping away from those who used me to feel okay,” serves as an indictment of those who take advantage of others’ vulnerability to serve their own emotional needs.

Phasez, an Ottawa-based artist, uses his music as a medium to reflect the continual ebb and flow of life, the waves that push us forward and those that pull us back. The thematic essence of his music is palpable in “Feel Okay,” as the song lyrically and sonically echoes the turbulence of human relationships and our shared struggle to find stability amidst it. In questioning “Why is everybody cruel? Listing reasons why you’re no longer cool,” Phasez probes the often superficial and shifting nature of popularity and social acceptance, revealing a depth of perception that lends an emotional heft to his music. Through “Feel Okay,” Phasez does more than create a resonant melody; he opens up a conversation about the emotional turbulence we all face in our journey through life, making it a potent addition to his musical repertoire.

The Early Purple – “Summer Hide”

The Early Purple, the solo project of Northumbrian musician Matt Saxon, recently released his debut EP, the first track of which is “Summer Hide”. Known for his work with Little Comets and The Dawdler, Saxon crafts delicate yet propulsive indie folk songs, and this fourth single is no exception. Building on his proven ability to distill complex philosophical themes into accessible and affecting melodies, “Summer Hide” further explores personal growth, mental health, and social commentary. The song warms the listener with its unique sunshine-infused charm, painting a vivid picture of tranquil days, and resonating deeply within the listener’s soul.

“Summer Hide,” with its nods to philosophical writings and reflections on personal growth, feels both intimate and universal. The song unravels like a summer’s day, the sonic equivalent of sunlit warmth spreading across a green field. Saxon’s lyrics, buried in obscure mantras, carry an introspective weight that is balanced by the track’s uplifting and expansive soundscapes. Producer Will Thorneycroft, drummer Drew Michael (Sam Fender), and trumpeter Ed Blazey (Behold A Pale Horse) come together to create a lush backdrop for Saxon’s contemplative lyrics and haunting melodies. The resulting sound is one of delicate balance – poignant introspection meets the irresistible lure of the season’s carefree spirit.

The release of “Summer Hide” hints at the multifaceted exploration of the human experience that characterizes The Early Purple’s debut EP, confirming Saxon’s talent for crafting music that bridges the gap between the personal and the universal. It’s a promising start for the Northumbrian musician’s solo venture and a beautiful ode to summer’s quiet allure.

Garland Kelley – “The Higher Road”

In his single, “The Higher Road”, Nashville-based artist Garland Kelley skillfully wields the less-is-more ethos, crafting a minimalistic Americana sound imbued with existential themes, love, life, and all their complexities. Predominantly acoustic, the song shimmers with bright guitar chords, their articulate attack lending an almost percussive quality to the track. Kelley’s vocals, however, are the keystone of this musical edifice, his resonant tone and emotive delivery anchoring the song’s explorative lyrical content. The simplicity of the track’s structure—unfurling in a dreamy 3/4 pulse—lends a ballad-like atmosphere to the song. This sparse soundscape serves to highlight the stirring vocal harmonies in the chorus, which bring a melodic uplift to the composition without disturbing its understated charm.

Kelley’s intimate storytelling prowess is on full display in “The Higher Road”, his heartfelt delivery offering a clear window into the soul of a modern troubadour. Each line of his verses reverberates with nostalgia, while the chorus radiates a message of hope and unity, embodied in the empowering declaration: “Love is eternal, of this I am sure.” This transcendent ethos is what makes “The Higher Road” not just a song, but an anthem, a powerful testament to the enduring and transformative power of love. Echoes of influences such as The Tallest Man On Earth, Of Monsters And Men, and The Lumineers can be heard in the song’s acoustic resonance and reflective lyricism, but Kelley’s sound is uniquely his own, seamlessly blending elements of classic rock, alternative, and alt-folk. With his debut EP and a promising year of performances and releases ahead, Garland Kelley is undeniably on the verge of marking his indelible print on the modern rock world.

The Only Carnell – “How U Been (Live)”

In his live performance of “How U Been,” alternative rap and R&B artist The Only Carnell offers an introspective and unfiltered glimpse into the daily struggles of adult life. The Fayetteville, NC artist’s signature style of transmuting a vibe into catchy melodies shines through in this piece, drawing the listener into his world with an intriguing blend of lyrical depth and rhythmic allure. With its frank examination of life’s ups and downs, the song serves as a testament to Carnell’s capacity to use music as a powerful form of self-expression.

His lyrical approach, which encompasses everything from joy to romantic relationships, and real-life experiences, is on full display here, offering a raw and relatable insight into his worldview. His unwavering commitment to quality and individuality resonates within the song, as he effortlessly combines his lyricism with diverse instrumental dynamics, creating a sonic tapestry as varied as life itself. As The Only Carnell continues to amass a healthy social media following and thousands of streams, his live performance of “How U Been” stands as a compelling example of his dedication to authenticity and the power of self-expression in music. His journey so far, guided by faith, serves as an inspiration to others to be their most authentic selves, making him an artist to watch in the alternative rap and R&B landscape.

Jacob Leo – “Barefoot”

In his latest offering “Barefoot,” singer-songwriter Jacob Leo offers a deeply emotive exploration of intimacy and longing. In an industry where artifice often takes precedence over sincerity, Leo’s raw, honest lyrics come as a breath of fresh air. His ability to weave a poignant narrative around the dynamics of a relationship sets him apart as a songwriter. The song’s lyrics speak volumes about the pull of desire, the fear of vulnerability, and the silent pleas we often find ourselves making in the quest for connection.

Leo’s mastery over his craft shines through in the expertly structured songwriting, as he juxtaposes feelings of numbness and freedom to illustrate the complexity of emotions within a relationship. Lines like “I feel like I could fly ’cause I know you’d catch me, you hold me so tight and yet you let me free,” paint a vivid picture of reliance and trust. The refrain “I’m begging you to come, barefoot in the sand, in silence,” serves as a poetic plea, one that reverberates with quiet urgency throughout the song. The repeated phrase “I would feel so numb without you” echoes a raw vulnerability that’s genuinely touching.

“Barefoot” is an emotionally charged ballad that showcases Jacob Leo’s rich lyricism and his talent for crafting evocative musical narratives. The song, like the rest of his work, embodies his knack for capturing the subtle nuances of human emotion and the intricacies of interpersonal dynamics. As the track comes to a close with the haunting line “But I don’t have to,” listeners are left reflecting on their own experiences of longing and loss, testament to the relatability of Leo’s songwriting. Jacob Leo continues to prove that he’s a powerful voice in the world of singer-songwriters, with “Barefoot” being another significant milestone in his growing discography.


In his latest single, “HELLO MAMA,” Kid Travis masterfully crafts a heartening tribute to motherhood that strikes a delicate balance between sweet sentimentality and indie punk/trap’s audacious energy. Released fittingly around Mother’s Day, the song speaks directly to the heart of anyone who’s ever felt the unique bond of mother-child love. The Philadelphia native demonstrates his lyrical prowess by penning lines imbued with genuine appreciation for maternal care, punctuated by his soft, melodic delivery over an immersive soundscape.

“HELLO MAMA” is a refreshing deviation from the typical fare of love songs, turning the spotlight instead on the unwavering support and influence of a mother’s love. The repeated refrain, “Here’s to you / I could never ask for love more true / I’m glad that Mother Nature thought of you,” reflects a heartfelt gratitude and respect, seamlessly interwoven with his indie punk/trap sensibilities. Lines like “Your lullabies they echo through my soul” and “I know I’m hot headed just like my pops / Don’t think that we don’t know you’ve been though a lot” reveal a vulnerability that adds depth to his usual edgy demeanor. The lyrical confession “No, I don’t think you understand / You’re worth more than a hundred grand to me (and I really like money)” adds a touch of humor that mirrors the playful bond shared between a mother and her child.

Overall, “HELLO MAMA” is a love letter to mothers everywhere, showcasing Kid Travis’ incredible talent for painting vivid emotional landscapes with his lyrics and melodies. The song encapsulates the artist’s versatility and willingness to step outside genre boundaries to create something genuinely touching and universally relatable. “HELLO MAMA” is a testament to Kid Travis’ ability to harness the emotive power of music, producing a song that serves as a lasting tribute to the enduring love and strength of mothers.

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