Western Australian folk artist Michael Dunstan has had quite the year. 2020 saw him release his luscious and satisfying debut album, In the Grand Scheme. Dunstan today unveils a stark acoustic take on the album single ‘Lay In The Sun’.
Michael Dunston explains that ‘Lay In The Sun’, “is a casual musing regarding the realisation that simply experiencing and being, will always bring more value to my life than any achievement.
“It’s a warm ode to honouring your own passion or pursuing a lifestyle that makes you happy, rather than ‘living this life to build a portfolio’ merely to validate your existence in the eyes of another and I’ll do that to the day I die.”
Stripped down the track to its bare bones highlights just how competent a songwriter Dunstan is. To celebrate the acoustic release, Michael Dunstan has sent us through his top 5 folk artists.
Check out ‘Lay In The Sun’ by Michael Dunstan:
1. Andy Shauf
It’s unfair to pick a number one out of the following five, however, Andy Shauf has something for every mood imaginable once you’re familiar with his catalogue.
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With a knack to turn the most mundane of events into an intriguing story that has you holding onto each word, Andy’s song-writing always leaves me with a deep sense of curiosity. In Shauf’s strange vocal melodies, you’ll find relatable meaning to every-day life topics and dilemmas.
Two really beautiful songs to first explore are ‘The Magician’ and ‘I’m Not Falling Asleep’. Also worth noting he has a more upbeat alternative/indie rock project titled ‘Foxwarren’. The debut album is incredible from start to finish, a class journey.
2. Billie Marten
There is incredible beauty in Billie’s delicate and gentle vocals, and the instrumentation is nothing short of peaceful. I listened to a podcast where Billie spoke openly about music and her life and gained an incredible appreciation for her poise when speaking. No words wasted in these songs, relaxing minimal folk in the older songs, and the new album ‘Feeding Seahorses By Hand’ is a fuller band project that feels warm and uplifting. Check out ‘Betsy’ and ‘Cursive’.
3. Fruit Bats
Nostalgia! I’m not sure if anyone I listen to compares to the nostalgia when listening to Fruit Bats. For some reason, so many different songs of theirs have landmarked themselves in special moments of my life. Whether it be driving through New Zealand, camping in Exmouth, or just at home; there’s plenty of meaning to be found in the songs sung by Eric D Johnson. One of the most simple but beautiful lines is placed in a song called ‘Birthday Drunk’; “So give away all you’ve ever owned, and forget all you’ve ever known… to be a sweet, young pup, birthday drunk”.
Love the sentiment behind that one!
Other songs worth exploring initially are ‘The Bottom of It’ and ‘Today’.
4. Lucy Rose
Lucy’s vocals are almost too good to be true. I was lucky enough to see Lucy perform in Fremantle in the latter of 2019. It was a shock that it wasn’t sold out. An even bigger shock to find that if anything she sounded even better live; which I didn’t think was possible. Lucy’s songwriting is strewn with emotion and is perfect to turn to on a moody day. When feeling a little empty, Lucy’s songs seem to ooze meaning and substance. Throw in some beautiful fretless bass, and magic ambient soundscapes, and you’ve been transported to somewhere far from your current woes. ‘Shiver (Live at RAK Studios)’ and ‘Question It All’ are two tracks you must hear!
5. Nick Drake
I only recently stumbled upon Nick Drake’s timeless music after hearing Billie Marten refer to the profound impact Drake’s music has had on her life and songwriting. I was driving down to an isolated part of Western Australia, a coastal town called Esperance; home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The first two songs that immediately entranced me were ‘River Man’ and ‘Pink Moon’. Perhaps what interests me most about Drake’s music is how unusual the way he plays the guitar is; the chords, the arrangement and just about all of it. It seems very foreign to what I’ve heard before, and I enjoy how free-form some of it sounds.
There are some massive and doomy string arrangements that are incredibly haunting throughout some of the albums too. Moody and beautiful. I find solace in the fact that whilst Drake didn’t have a large listening whilst he was alive, that he is now being appreciated and listened to word for word widely around the world. It’s beautiful to see how long profound art stands for and continues to expand.