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Radio Free MP3: Horse Stories, Laura Marling, and Kevin Barker

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"Hummingbird (We'll Be OK)" – Horse Stories
From the EP November, November
Click here to listen, right-click to save.

I've always found it fascinating how certain music works for certain moods and places. There are times when I want to curl up under the covers and listen to sad songs. There are times when I let the car windows down, bask in the sunshine, and feel the wind in my hair. Those times call for bright, energetic pop tunes. For nearly every mood, and every activity it seems there is a song.

"Hummingbird ( We'll Be OK)" finds itself perfect for me right now. I'm feeling sluggish this morning, nursing an aching head. The wife sits behind me with a constant cough. We cough together, actually. Like some demented hacking chorus. The bins are filled with snot-filled tissues.

Horse Stories fills the air with a laid back, country rock sound. There are light organ frills, lazy acoustic guitar plinks that slowly rouse into a chorus where singer Toby Burke sings "we'll be okay" over and over again. The results cut through this sinus-infected fog of my day and uplifts without over-stimulating. A song that fits perfectly into this moment of my life.

I suspect it will fit into yours, too.

The album comes out January 19. You can hear more of Horse Stories on their MySpace page.

"Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)" – Laura Marling
From the album I Speak Because I Can
Click here to listen, right-click to save.

Laura Marling made a good splash with her debut solo album Alas I Cannot Swim and with good reason. It is a beautiful, gushing, gorgeous album due in no little part to her supremely lovely voice. She also sang with Noah and the Whale on their nearly brilliant 2008 album Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down.

She's preparing to release a new album, and to give us a taste she's released a new single, "Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)." As to be expected it is a lush, beautiful song. Its a romantic winter picture all fluffy and white with Laura leading the way with that peculiar, magical voice of hers.

That voice full of English tones, yet classically pretty, but filled with an tinge of harshness that makes it utterly unique and strangely mystifying.

The new album, I Speak Because I Can comes out March 22 and was produced by Ryan Adams and Ethan Johns. Learn more at her MySpace page and official site.

"You & Me" – Kevin Barker
From the album You & Me
Click here to listen, right-click to save.

If there is a theme to today's Radio Free MP3 it is soft, acoustic folk numbers that won't make my wife squawk about her head pounding and my need to "turn that racket down." I'm not sure making my wife not squawk is a good way to recommend some music to anybody, but, well, there it is anyway.

"You & Me" takes this laid back theme even farther, giving it a lawn chair, a couple of margaritas, and large doses of warm California sun. It's got a 1960s San Francisco feel running through it, and that's alright with me.

Barker's singing voice just sort of slips out of him, like he's talking distractedly to a friend and then, as if by accident he finds himself harmonizing with the guys. It is casual work, but not haphazard. He works hard to sound laid back. The results are enough for me to crank up the heat, put on some Bermuda shorts, toss on some shades, and take a long, hearty nap.

The new album, You & Me, comes out January 19 and features a who's who of indie folkers such as Pat Sansone (Wilco), Joanna Newsom, Jonathan Wilson (Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis), Eric Johnson (Shins, Fruit Bats), and Otto Hauser (Vetiver, Espers.) You can hear most of his album streaming on his MySpace page.

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