Rhett Akins

Better Half: Sykamore Feature and 5 Quick Questions

2018 is just getting started, but Sykamore is already in a groove.

The 26 year old country music singer/songwriter from Carseland, Alberta has a brand new EP, Self + Medicine, her first music video (Better Half) has been released, and Jordan Oström is taking it all in as she prepares for what comes next.

We caught up with Sykamore on the phone to talk about her music and more – and we already can’t wait until we get to do it again… in person.

The first thing we talked about was the release of Self + Medicine, and what it’s felt like for the young artist. Sykamore told us that the album had a series of potential release dates that lead to the official release on January 5, 2018… and that because of the three or four times she thought it was going to come out before, she feels really good that it truly is now out to the world.

While we talked about the EP, we asked if there were any points of inspiration (from people or experiences) that shaped her writing. We learned that the songs from Self + Medicine were written over the period of a few years, with no singular point of outside inspiration connecting them. However, she did tell us that she feels they are connected, that they all share her point of view, her vantage point of the human experience and how she’s processed people and events in her life.

Two of the songs on this new EP have already lived a life to early fans of Sykamore’s music. Houseboat and Better Half have already been released as singles, nearing a combined 250,000 spins on Spotify. But now, with their inclusion in this releases, they’re getting a second life. We asked about it, and Jordan told us that she’s especially seeing that with Better Half. The EP release and the music video have combined to put the April 2017 single back in front of people, and they’ve been responding with wonderful positivity. She told us that she’s frequently seeing tweets and messages from people shouting out the track and sharing it with their social circles.

As we talked about Better Half, we talked about the music video. Sykamore still sounds almost surprised that this is her first official video, but she certainly sounds happy with the way it turned out.

She told us that she always knew she wanted to wait until everything was able to come together to make a video the right way. She didn’t want to cut corners or rush the process, and so when the small and passionate team came together to make the video for Better Half, it was done the right way. And over two days they shot, with an airplane, motorcycle, and a bad ass car to create the visual spectacle she wanted to present to the world.

We also talked about what comes next, as this project sees the light and hits the public. And for Sykamore, that means it’s time to start working on the next one. She told us that she’s chomping at the bit to get moving on what comes after this 2018 EP. That she’s ready, and that part of her will always feel like the reason you release an album is so that you can make the next album.

And when we asked what she sees when she thinks about those songs and that next album, she told us that she hopes to take a chance, to present and share something that people haven’t seen and heard from her before. As an artist, it’s clear that Sykamore wants to push herself, to see what she’s capable of and how far she can go. This isn’t about finding and staying in a comfort zone – and we’re sure we’ll see that reflected in the next new music from the Calgary-based performer.

While we had Sykamore on the line, we got her to play a round of 5 Quick Questions with us – a sequel to her first round during 2016’s Canadian Country Music Week in London, ON.

5 Quick Questions with Sykamore

Q1: First song you performed in front of an audience?

Sykamore: You Are My Sunshine
– Jordan told us that she sang the song when she was about 4 years old at a family reunion, thanks to her grandparents pride in the talent of their grandchildren.

Q2: First album you bought?

Sykamore: The Road To El Dorado soundtrack.
– As a big fan of Elton John, the album purchase made a ton of sense to her.

Q3: Dream duet partner?

Sykamore: Lady Gaga and Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine)
– After their collaboration on Hey Girl from Gaga’s latest album, Joanne, Sykamore has both of these talented women on her list.

Q4: Favourite place on earth to be?

Sykamore: The family farm at home in Alberta.
– She was worried about this seeming like a lame answer, but with some very understandable perspective she explained that the more she’s away the more she appreciates going home to the familiar and calm and happy place.

Q5: Artist you think people should be listening to?

Sykamore: Leaving Thomas.
– Sykamore singled out the Calgary duo for their sound as well as their social media presence. And we wholeheartedly agree with her recommendation that you check out the LT Show on YouTube, featuring Sue-Z. AND we think you should be ready for their self-titled debut EP coming January 26, 2018.

Related: 5 Quick Questions with Sykamore at Canadian Country Music Week 2016

Self + Medicine isn’t the only big thing that’s happened recently for Sykamore…

In mid-November 2017, Jordan announced that she’d been signed to Home Team Publishing, joining Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett, and other hit makers to hone her skills and keep pushing herself as a writer.

We talked about how it all came to be, and the “followed a tweet to Nashville” story, asking for a little longer tale than that, and Sykamore helped fill it out for us. She told us that she had followed Rhett Akins on Twitter, and he followed her back, which sounds simple enough, and cool when you think about her as an emerging artist and him as a successful writer and singer. After that Rhett listened to some of Jordan’s music that she had tweeted out and had online, he sent her a DM (she told us that she thought she might be getting catfished at first) and invited her down to Nashville to meet and talk music.

After she was convinced that it was for real, she made the trip, went to Akin’s house, saw all of the dead animals on the wall, and they started talking about songwriting. He told her he wanted to help her grow as a songwriter (talent recognizes talent) and after more time and more conversations, Sykamore was signed to Home Team Publishing.

Sykamore told us that it’s been really cool to work with Home Team. That it’s been amazing to go to Nashville and be surrounded and supported by these prolific and talented and successful writers. She told us that it’s humbling to be in the room and watch what they do, to see how they accomplish things. And, that she’s learning and doing her best to act like a sponge, soaking in all of the knowledge that these colleagues and mentors have to share about the craft.

To finish up our call and conversation we asked more about what comes next in the form of shows, writing, plans, goals and more.

We learned that plans are being made for the next single release from Self + Medicine (but we aren’t allowed to know what it is yet), and that Sykamore hopes to be on a bunch of stages this summer to play her new songs for country music fans. We also learned that when it comes to goals, she has two sets.

The artistic goals, the ones that Jordan wants to keep in mind every time she’s working on music, include being vulnerable, taking chances, and pushing herself to see what new things she can write about and connect with listeners on.

The career goals include some big ones (we love ‘em) that include playing at The Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, as well as headlining her own tour(s) as her career progresses.

The last thing we asked Sykamore was if she had any final thoughts she wanted to leave with readers and listeners, and she told us that most of all she hopes that people listen to the new music and like it – that they find a connection point and can feel the music.

We like that. That’s what music is about. So hit play and listen to Self + Medicine now and find your connection.

Stay up to date with Sykamore online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for all of the important updates to come…


I Don’t Believe We’ve Met: Danielle Bradbery Album Review

Four years after she burst onto the scene as the season four winner of The Voice, Danielle Bradbery has reintroduced herself to the world with her sophomore album, I Don’t Believe We’ve Met.

The title of the 10 track record sets the tone, this is a new Danielle Bradbery. This isn’t the 17 year old that the world met on TV, and that’s good. None among us knew at 17 what we were going to be like at 21. And those of who looked back at 17 when we were 21 surely saw some differences in perspective when it comes to nearly everything in life.

With heavy hitters like Thomas Rhett and Rhett Akins in her corner, and the support of her label (Big Machine/BMLG) Bradbery has had the chance to embrace her growth, learn about herself as an adult and an artist, and use the experience of life to fuel her new music.

We saw Bradbery on the main stage at the Boots & Hearts Music Festival in 2014, and the performer we saw that afternoon had all the signs of potential that you’d ever hope to see. Her voice was strong, her charm shone through, and now that she’s had three years of growing and evolving musically, we can’t wait for the chance to see her on stage again to play Potential, Worth It, Hello Summer and more from I Don’t Believe We’ve Met.

Related: Danielle Bradbery at Boots & Hearts 2014

The lead single, Sway, was released on June 2, 2017 and was the world’s introduction to the Danielle Bradbery the Texan songstress wanted us all to meet. With nearly 9 million streams on Spotify and YouTube, radio play all over, and a whole lot people inspired to sway, it’s safe to say that it’s all working out so far.

Bradbery has been quoted as saying, “With I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, I got the opportunity to work with amazing writers and producers that brought out my unique style and allowed me to tap into so many different influences. This is the beginning of a new chapter for me, and I am so excited for everyone to hear what we’ve made.”. And she should be excited. This is a fun record that has songs that can be danced to, sung along with, and that show off stories and feelings that make country music what it is. It might not be stripped down pickin’ and pedal steel – but it’s country music, and Danielle Bradbery should be proud of the work she put in and the album she has to show for it.

The strength in her voice that we were all first introduced to on songs like The Heart Of Dixie is still present on his follow-up album, and it would be impossible to tell you now that we don’t still believe that Bradbery has what it takes to be a big star in country music.

Back to the growing up… as an artist Bradbery has discovered and cultivated the songwriter inside of her artist’s heart. And on this new album, the 21 year old has been able to express herself for their first time, not only through her performances, but through the songs themselves. Danielle Bradbery co-wrote seven songs on the new album, and welcomed writers including Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Jaren Johnston, Emily Weisband, Molly Reed, and Nicolle Galyon (and more) to work with her on the project.

Whether you choose to embrace the love stories that music brings, or the deeper personal emotions, or songs to dance to, or you’re open to all of it, Danielle Bradbery’s I Don’t Believe We’ve Met is here for you if you’re here for it.

We are.

Danielle Bradbery, I Don’t Believe We’ve Met Tracklist

1. Sway
2. Potential
3. What Are We Doing
4. Worth It
5. Can’t Stay Mad
6. Messy
7. Red Wine + White Couch
8. Hello Summer
9. Human Diary
10. Laying Low


Danielle Bradbery Promo Photo via Facebook 2017

Life Changes: Thomas Rhett Album Review

Thomas Rhett’s Life Changes may be the most aptly titled album of 2017. The new father of two has now released his third studio album, has already gone to number one on the US Country Airplay chart with Craving You, and is set to keep that momentum going.

Life Changes is a monster album, with 14 total tracks, guest appearances by his dad, Rhett Akins, on Drink A Little Beer and Maren Morris on the CMA Musical Event and Music Video of the Year nominated, Craving You, and the potential for as many as 7 or more radio singles. From start to finish, this is unmistakably a Thomas Rhett album, in all the best ways.

Note: if Thomas Rhett truly is announcing a comeback record from his pops, Rhett Akins, on Drink A Little Beer, we’re excited about it and ready for it!

Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015

Life Changes is an album that isn’t afraid to take chances. Just like he did on his last record, Tangled Up, Thomas Rhett mixes in his own personal style with the country music he grew up on. The title track and Smooth Like The Summer are perfect examples, with different vibes, they both bring a beat in the background and unique touch, and they’re both reminiscent of the feelings I got when I first heard Crash And Burn.

At the risk of being too bold on the prediction front… I’m going to say here and now that Marry Me, the fifth track on the album, is poised to be a number one single if Rhett and his team make the decision to release it to radio. The heartbreaking story is pure country, dripping with emotion, sadness, and ‘play it on repeat in the dark while drinking whiskey’ potential.

Thomas Rhett has become a leading man in country music. With headlining tour dates, a 2017 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year nomination, and eight number one singles on the US Country Airplay charts, he’s made it. And with this third album putting him firmly in the country music spotlight, still only at the age of 27 years old, he’s got the opportunity to stay there for a long time to come.

One of my favourite moments on the record comes during Life Changes when Rhett rhymes, “And I wrote a little song about holding her hand/ And now everybody wanna die happy, man”. It’s autobiographical, it’s sweet, and (to me) it’s perfect.

There are other highlights, lyrics, and tracks that I could go on and on about, but it comes down to this… Life Changes is a country record that will take you from feeling emotional to feeling like you want to dance. It tells stories, it takes changes, and it plays for more than 45 minutes of listening pleasure. Pressing play and letting the music wash over you is a great decision if you’re a Thomas Rhett fan, a country fan, or if you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons.

Thomas Rhett, Life Changes Tracklist

1. Craving You w/ Maren Morris
2. Unforgettable
3. Sixteen
4. Drink A Little Beer w/ Rhett Akins
5. Marry Me
6. Leave Right Now
7. Smooth Like The Summer
8. Life Changes
9. When You Look Like That
10. Sweetheart
11. Kiss Me Like A Stranger
12. Renegades
13. Gateway Love
14. Grave

Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015Thomas Rhett-Country Thunder 2017Thomas Rhett-Country Thunder 2017

5 Reasons We’re Excited to See Thomas Rhett at Boots & Hearts 2015

Thomas Rhett Live at the Rock N' Horse TorontoThomas Rhett is quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in country music. With three #1 singles (It Goes Like This, Get Me Some Of That, Make Me Wanna) from his debut album – the first time in 20 years that’s happened for a solo male country artist – Rhett is, as they say, white hot.

This summer country music fans at Boots & Hearts will have a chance to see first hand just what all the fuss is about when Thomas Rhett takes the stage. And we’re willing to bet that the thousands and thousands of bodies in the crowd this August are going to have a hella good time.

To get us all ready, we’ve built a list of 5 reasons we’re excited to see Thomas Rhett this summer at Boots & Hearts.

If we missed something that you think is important, add it in the comments

The Hits

Thomas Rhett ConcertWe’ve already covered the 3 #1 hits from It Goes Like This… but those aren’t the only songs that fans are going to know and sing along to at Burl’s Creek Event Park.

Get ready to listen to a lot of voices belting out the words to…

  • Beer With Jesus
  • It Goes Like This
  • Sorry For Partyin’
  • Get Me Some Of That
  • Make Me Wanna

An entire crowd singing together is one of my favourite things in the world. I can’t wait to be part of it!

The Covers

Thomas Rhett with Florida Georgia LineWe know that Rhett is a big fan of Bruno Mars, and that he’s used Uptown Funk as an encore on tour – and there’s the video for When I Was Your Man – so don’t be surprised to hear that one at some point in the show. But there could be more…

With songwriting credits on hits for Jason Aldean, Lee Brice and 2015 Boots & Hearts headliners, Florida Georgia Line – there’s a strong chance that we’ll get to hear some combination of I Ain’t Ready To Quit, 1994, Parking Lot Party, and Round Here.

We’re not sure if they’re really covers if it’s the songwriter performing the songs… but that’s what we’ll call it for now.

The New Music

Thomas Rhett Crash and BurnWith a new album on the way, and a lead single already available – Crash And Burn – there’s a strong chance that we’re going to get even more new music when Thomas Rhett plays live for us.

If you haven’t heard the new song yet, have a listen and then calm down. There’s a lot of debate going on in the comments of the YouTube video… and as always, it’s the country music “protectors” who are railing against anything that doesn’t sound like the music they grew up on.

Let’s hope that common sense prevails and we can all just agree to enjoy good music, and move on if a song isn’t to our taste.

For the record, Crash And Burn is to our taste.

The Dance Moves

Thomas Rhett DancingThere’s not a ton to say about this, but it will be fun to watch. If you’ve seen the Make Me Wanna music video, you’ve seen the footwork that Thomas Rhett brings to the dance floor. And while we do hope that he spends more time concentrating on his singing than his dancing – we’re pretty sure he’s going to shake it for the ladies once or twice during his set.

We’ll just have to wait and see if the reaction is anywhere close to what it was for Luke Bryan’s dancing at Boots & Hearts 2014.

The Pedigree

Thomas Rhett and Rhett AkinsY’all probably know that Thomas Rhett is the son of country music singer/songwriter Rhett Akins – in fact, his birth name is Thomas Rhett Akin Jr.

Songwriting and performing are in his blood. We’ve seen it first hand at the Rock ‘N’ Horse Saloon in Toronto. And we can’t wait for you all to see it this summer.

Plus, there’s the slightest chance that we’ll get to see Thomas Rhett play his dad’s biggest hit, That Ain’t My Truck… and that is a moment that we can’t wait for!

Boots & Hearts is one of our favourite weekends of the year. It has been since year 1 in 2012 – and we are sure that 2015, the 1st year at Burl’s Creek Event Park is going to be just as awesome as all the rest have been.

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

3 years ago
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