I’m sitting here burning through my green candles on a warm East Tennessee afternoon. The cicadas have distracted the birds and the bats and so we’ve an unusual number of lightning bugs in the backyard this season. It’s quite the vision at sunset; even in the city, and on the rare but coveted cool, crisp evening you could almost forget about the devastating creep of climate change.
I’ve been waking up around 6:30 in the morning to walk the paths of a nearby nature center with my toddler and we’ve been winding through, finding centipedes and a variety of amphibians. When the dew is still on the grass and the sun is yawning, it is comfortable to jaunt through the woods undaunted by the heavy humidity oncoming. Also, we get to find ourselves with a whole host of new spider breeds investigating our faces.
If you’d like to join us on a little hike too, then I’ve assembled a few songs for you to journey with that are real strong. Our friend Emilia is back with a yummy new single, we discover Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose and his claw-picking banjo meditations, and I introduce you all to my dear friend Karen E. Reynolds whose kindness is narrowly exceeded by her talent. Drink up these tunes and drink a lot of water, too.
We’ve had Emilia in the Buried Treasure section before; fawning over her Firecracker EP from 2020. Her new single “Games”. featuring an artist called FINOLA, has driving energy with a punchy lead guitar solo and a janky garage bass.
“Don’t play games with a girl who plays better,” she croons with bite in the hook. It’s an anthem for moving forward from toxic friends and letting go of all of that negative energy.
Sam is new to me but his debut album Spark In Your Smile is full of beautiful folk songs infused with bluegrass and poetic self-reflection. “Heart of Mine” really reckons with being an adult and confronting your Queerness for the first time and it’s beautiful.
The production includes a sort of tragic fiddle, bouncing banjo, a full drum kit, and some loose but effective harmonies. I would recommend giving the entire album a listen but this song in particular is a standout.
Karen E. Reynolds
Karen is a longtime member of the East Tennessee songwriter circuit. With a voice comparable to early Rosanne Cash and more than enough songwriting chops to hold her own, she has made a definitive mark on the landscape. An affable presence with well-crafted songs performed with intention, her shows are full of humor and warmth.
A 2019 inductee to the Tennessee Songwriting Hall of Fame alongside Dolly Parton, she continues to dedicate most of her time to nurturing songwriting in younger artists but she is an incredible writer and performer in her own right. Just check out this song from 2010 and see for yourself!
“Buried Treasure” is your bi-weekly guide to under-the-radar queer artists in country, Americana, and folk. Know an artist who should be included? Contact us!