Songwriter, musician and visual artist, Shana Cleveland – who is also a member of LA’s La Luz – writes soaring yet subtle folk songs filled with a specificity capable of adding extra hours to your day. New album, Manzanita, quivers like long grass in the first hopeful warm breeze of the day.

Touching on new life, battling illness and love’s power to pull us through the darkness, Cleveland is a writer of infinite depth, and here we get a glimpse of what has been gracing her record player lately.

Kristine Leschper – Ribbon

I don’t know how I came across this album, but the second I heard it, I fell in love and it’s one of the records I’ve listened to most in the last year. I love the crystal clear beauty of her voice and the lush arrangements, which feel like a small, perfect orchestra. I picked this track, but I could have picked any, all are equally beautiful and poetic.

Kendrick Lamar – Die Hard

This, along with the Kristine Leschper album, is the other album I listened to on repeat all last year. Both with initials K.L., hmm. Again, just sort of chose a song at random because the whole record is insane. The arrangements are perfect. The lyrics on a lot of these songs resonated with me in a big way, considering life, and attachment, and purpose, and coming to some zen conclusions.

Kassi Valazza – Watching Planes Go By

I heard this song on my local free-form radio station and couldn’t tell what era it was from, which is a quality I often like in music. From her 70s Canyon vocals to the tripped out dual guitar solo that goes on much longer than you think it’s going to, this song feels very California in a way that I really love.

Nighttime – Garden of Delight

I’m a real sucker for folk that sounds like it was made by magic creatures in a hazy forest, so I was happy to find this new album, Keeper is the Heart by Nighttime. I listened to it while I did menial tasks and it elevated my reality at the time into something more mystical. I don’t know this person, but I’d like to.

Built to Spill – Fool’s Gold

This is a song that reminds me why Built to Spill are so great. It’s jagged and soothing at the same time in a satisfying way that seems to bring the chaos of the world into workable order. At least that’s how I feel when listening. My band, La Luz, has played with Built to Spill a few times over the years and I can attest to the fact that Doug Martsch is very cool – if not a magical being. It’s rare that bands stick around this long and don’t lose a bit of what made them great to begin with. Also, the video for this song is so good and so, so funny.

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