By Kelsey Klosterman
We’ve all been through it: we all have at least one artist that we love so much, but no one ever knows who they are. We listen to them all the time, and we’ve been following their work for years, but they never seem to get famous.
It’s a fact of life: some artists simply don’t get the kind of fame and popularity they deserve.
For me, these artists include Lauren Aquilina, Jesse Bonanno and Andrew Bird are all artists I’ve discovered in the past couple of years and have come to love since then. All three are solo singers who create their own unique blend of styles that leads to great music and happy listeners.
Lauren Aquilina is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from England. She’s been singing since she was eight years old and playing piano since she was nine.
Aquilina often sang as a teenager trying to raise money, and in 2012, her first independent EP, Fools, was released, kickstarting her career.
In its first week, the album made the Top 50 iTunes singles charts. Fools was released as a trio of EPs with Sinners and Liars, each of which includes four songs, and together, these EPs led Aquilina to her first tour in 2013.
Aquilina’s style is heavily acoustic and indie pop. The songs are slow and because her music is primarily vocals and piano, her songs are relaxing. She puts her heart into her lyrics to tell stories primarily about different kinds of relationships.
Her most popular track is “Fools,” which tells the tale of a couple of friends who wonder if they should risk their friendship to be something more. It features Aquilina singing over a subdued beat, soft instrumentals and subtle background vocals. “Fools,” like most of Aquilina’s songs, has a way of capturing you and filling you up and refusing to let you go until long after it’s over.
Jesse Bonanno is a 31-year-old American singer-songwriter who’s still very much under the radar. He plays acoustic rock, using piano, strings and guitar to back up his vocals. His first work was an EP called Check Please, which featured five tracks. Since then, he has released three full albums, but the original EP remains his most popular work.
Bonanno only has 500 followers on Spotify, where his most popular song is “Never Alone.” This song begins with Bonanno singing over a soft piano backing as he encourages his listener, saying that they have his support, and even though other instruments are slowly added throughout the song, it remains soft and caring until the end.
Some of his songs have a rock feel, but Bonanno tends to sing softly over whatever instrumentals he chooses, giving his music a nostalgic feel and bringing listeners into a different, more introspective frame of mind. His music is the kind that you might listen to on a long car ride or when you’re lost in thought.
Andrew Bird is a songwriter from Chicago, and at age 41, he has released many albums in some overlapping genres: indie rock, indie folk and folk rock.
He’s certainly better known than the other folks on this list, but his music is still not exactly the type you’d expect to hear on the radio. Bird is a multi-instrumentalist, playing the violin and guitar among others.
He has released over a dozen albums since the beginning of his career in 1996.
Bird’s style tends to be upbeat, and the instruments he plays, including the glockenspiel, help foster that mood. His most famous song is “Pulaski at Night,” an homage to Chicago (the track was featured in the season two premiere of the popular Netflix-exclusive program “Orange Is the New Black”).
This track begins with a deliberate rhythm with the violin, and as instruments are added, Bird begins to sing. The song alternates from using silence between beats to stretching out notes to produce a creative blend of folk styles.
He also has many songs that are purely instrumental, including the epic “Lit from Underneath,” which moves along steadily from the beginning with Andrew plucking away at his violin to create a relaxing yet catchy song. There’s also a faint whistling in the background that sounds almost like an instrument itself.
All three of this artists can be found both on Spotify and on iTunes. If you’re interested in uncovering some new artists, try checking these three out. Give them a listen and you might find something you like.
By Kelsey Klosterman, Staff Writer