Category Archives: Folk

Brenda Xu

model: Brenda Xu, MUAH: Kat St. John

Wow, what a treat I have for you on this quiet Sunday afternoon. Meet a very talented singer / songwriter who hails from the Seattle area in the great North West.

We’ll let her fill you in with her mini bio:
Ambient/folk artist, Brenda Xu (pronounced “shoo”) has been building a steady following since her arrival on the Seattle music scene a few years ago. The momentum she created with the release of her last album “For The Winter” in 2014 has led to two successful western U.S. tours and a recent feature in the MTV show “Awkward.” Compared to artists such as Cat Power, Daughter, and Aimee Mann, her sound has been described as “treading the delicate line between washed-out ambient tones and carefully crafted acoustic arrangements.” Her new album “Overflow” builds on the unique sonic landscape that she created on her last album with more complex song structures and musical arrangements. As a DIY artist, she has successfully funded two Kickstarter campaigns to release her albums and music videos. She plans to tour the U.S. and Europe this year to reach a growing audience in new regions.

That said, every song I have heard by her is a mini masterpiece. All great songs by a great singer.

So are you ready for a wander round her song book?

First up what a beautiful understated song this is. I love the simplicity of its opening verses, but the orchestra provides some complexity. And then of course there is the awesome tone of Brenda Xu and her beautiful voice. A pretty cool video too.
Lovely Storm

“Lovely Storm” written & performed by Brenda Xu
from the album “Overflow” (release date 2/24/17)
live performance shots & editing by Rob Edmondson
time-lapse shots by Krists Veide

? Brighton Lacey Photography

I always enjoy these Sofar performances, they always seem to capture the artist perfectly. This one is no exception a beautiful performance by Brenda Xu @ Sofar San Francisco.
Another great song.
Light of the moon

Filmed by: Stef Sequeira
Manuel Garcia
Elizabeth Barelli
Edited by: Elizabeth Barelli
Audio by: Scott McDowell


OK, let’s change it up a little bit and hear Brenda on a cover, and of course being from Seattle it has to be Nirvana or Jimi Hendrix. This is a terrific performance at TBASA’s Lo-Fi All Stars #76.
Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a song by American rock band Nirvana. It is the opening track and lead single from the band’s second album, Nevermind (1991), released on DGC Records. Written by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl (lyrics by Cobain, music by Nirvana) and produced by Butch Vig, the song uses a verse-chorus form where the main four-chord riff is used during the intro and chorus to create an alternating loud and quiet dynamic.


This is the final track for today, another wonderful live performance, this time @ NILEShcs. A tremendous song about a trumpet, but in lieu of a trumpet they have a flugelhorn. Don’t worry about it just enjoy it.
Trumpet Song

Trumpet Song * Yun-En Liu on violin and Tyler Nugent on flugelhorn

? Sharon Hannah

OK, so I lied again. Couldn’t leave you thirsty, so check out this great new album from Brenda Xu.


released March 7, 2017

vocals, acoustic guitar: Brenda Xu
drums: Ben Kent
bass, electric & acoustic guitar: Timothy Van Buren
violin: Yun-En Liu
viola: Andrew Van Kempen
cello: Colin Isler
trombone: Don Farwell

all songs written by Brenda Xu ©
produced by Don Farwell & Brenda Xu
recorded at Earwig Studio in Seattle, WA
mastered by Levi Seitz at Blackbelt Mastering

cover artwork by Jacquie Gouvea


Elin Ivarsson

Meet another amazing Scandinavian songbird.
Elin Ivarsson is a very talented singer/songwriter from Kalix, Sweden, currently based in Brighton, England. Kalix is close to Finland, sadly a section of Sweden I never got to visit.

Elin Ivarsson is a mean classical guitar player, her mastery of the instrument is just sublime. And her songwriting skills are superb, she writes stripped back songs from the heart. They are things of beauty, each to be admired in their own light.

So do we want to hear the music? Of course, let’s get to it.

First up today Louie Louié Presents – The wonderful Elin Ivarsson as she passes through to share this elegantly smooth and captivating performance of her track ‘Leaving Song’ for Stripped Back Bare live sessions. Amazing guitar work and beautiful vocals,
Leaving Song

Video directed, filmed, edited and graded by Louie Syred
(with great help from and a special thanks to Ben Cox and Julian Beresford of Gnarled Apple Productions )
Sound recorded, mixed and mastered by Louie Syred

I have always loved the skill shown when playing classical guitar, Andres Segovia and John Williams come to mind. Elin is a true master of the classical guitar, and this piece is sublime. An exquisite performance of ‘Lotty’ from Elin Ivarsson exclusively for the Clockwork Owl Sessions.

Recorded, mixed, shot and edited by Tim Bidwell at Clockwork Owl Studio.

A beautiful song about her homeland, and with that warm pure voice and her perfect guitar playing this is a song to savor. No real data about where and when this was recorded, the video was uploaded in July last year.

Recorded in Frankfurt 22 July 2016 while recording her latest album. More superb music. The title is my guess since no more info is given. But just kick back and listen, it’s just beautiful.
Another day older

Here’s a beautiful guitar piece, truly shows of her skills on the six strings.
A brilliant simplicity in the tune, yet not so simple to play.
Instrumental song

So today we close with Elin’s interpretation of one of Leonard Cohen’s lesser known songs (unless you are a long time fan). A beautiful version and just listen to the beauty of the guitar sound. This was recorded a few years back.
The Partisan

I’m sure Leonard would approve.

Nick Tann

Just a quick update on me mate Nick Tann.

I found this video he did a long long time ago, had a bit more hair in those days.
This is a nice 12 string blues song. It is also the first video he loaded up to YouTube.
That Woman

Oh, and now while I have your attention Nick has been nominated for a GSMC Music Award and I would really appreciate it if you could vote for him.
Simply click this link, use GSMC Awards as the subject then “Best Solo Artist (Male) – Nick Tann “ in the message section. One vote per email address
If you want to be added to the Graham Steel Mailing list, put “add” at the bottom.
The results are announced in the new year.
Nick thanks you very much!

OK, as a thank you bonus here’s my favorite Nick Tann song.
Always loved this one since it came out on his album of the same name.
3 am

You can get the album here.