It is mid-February which, in many parts of the world, coincides with the coldest, most ruthless time of the winter season. Though spring is only a few weeks away, we still have a handful of days to spend in snow, or rain, or both; for that reason, I’m bringing you some of the coziest, best indie ballads for this Surprise of the Week. Bundle up, grab a cup of tea, and check out these heartwarming ballads in the comfort of your home.
Car, the garden - “Beyond” ft. O3ohn
Unfortunately, due to its late release in December 2017, the album Apartment, the first full-length effort by indie singer Car, the garden, didn’t appear amongst my column entries at the time of its release. However, let it be said that Apartment is an exquisite piece of work, marrying a wide variety of genres that all fit Car, the garden’s soft voice and quiet artistry perfectly. The song “Beyond” stands out as an acoustic ballad among the lot, opening on an acoustic guitar leading the melody and a subtle electronic beat. Strings join in later on, but the song retains a subdued vibe, fitting the calming tone of the arrangement. Indie artist O3ohn (pronounced “oh-jon”) joins in the second verse, soft in his characteristic tone, before the climax of the song hits at the end in an almost grandiose manner. You can’t help but replay “Beyond” as it reaches its last note—it’s just the kind of effect the song has on its audience.
Kim E-Z - “Place” ft. Taylor
The song “Place” by Kim E-Z might stand amongst the best ballads ever released in 2017. The quietness of the song is unparalleled, and the peace it provides is immensely soothing even upon its first listen. Sure, the piano helps with that, and so does the lo-fi arrangement built around it. But the real highlight—and the real reason for the song’s all-encompassing, comforting atmosphere—resides in the performers’ delivery. Kim E-Z’s voice has a breathy, high-pitched tone, but it doesn’t sound strained once in the song. It’s as though she is murmuring throughout the track, giving the track a dreamy, loving tone. R&B artist Taylor also features in the song, following throughout the entire track with his lower vocals, almost imperceptible under Kim E-Z’s, but definitely noticeable nonetheless. It’s incredibly refreshing to hear him in such a calm ballad type of song, while most of his work revolves around more upbeat, urban-style R&B. Overall, “Place” manages to take us away for the time of a song in the most comforting, heartwarming ways.
DEAN - “instagram”
Sure; with the amount of attention he’s been getting in the past year or two, DEAN is no longer an “indie” artist per se. However, his latest single “instagram” proves to be a perfect anthem for the winter we’ve had so far, and is definitely a favorite of ours here at The Kraze since its release. Musically, the song is simply stunning, proof of DEAN’s genius composing. The rhythm is the most addicting part of it—though not exactly upbeat, it’s catchy enough to make you sway along to it. The guitars give it even more depth and groove, and DEAN’s own delivery has a certain musicality to it, which defines a lot of his music’s appeal. But even more than the music, the lyrics of the song are definitely worth taking a look at. They’re almost too easy to relate to, speaking of a (connected) world that moves at incredible speeds, and losing touch with it at the same time, left alone with wandering thoughts. Visually, that same message is transmitted through the music video, which is nothing short of a cinematographic masterpiece.