New Indie Folk, Vol. 1
Cover photo: Jacob Milstein – Old Timer cover art
Our new series showcases some of the best new indie folk tracks we've found. Here are the first two nuggets.
Jacob Milstein – Old Timer

Jacob Milstein is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Norman, Oklahoma. His latest single Old Timer is a warm empathetic portrait of a man Jacob met at local market in Nashville. The song took 20 minutes to write and was recorded live, retaining the magic of a rough draft that polished pieces so often lose.

Jacob Milstein
So there's this market, old neighborhood market, in East Nashville just a hundred feet from my porch. They've been there forever. One side of the sign is still the old owner's name, "to respect how it was." Great, cheap home cooking. You get the picture. I'm in there all the time. I'd bring a plate and a fork so they wouldn't have to use the to-gos. And there was a man who came out of the beer cooler with a mop, I'd probably seen him a hundred times but one time I just saw something in his face that I had to pass through me and no other way than in a song.

So I went home and wrote it in about twenty minutes. I had to be fast cause a friend was waiting to come over and I told him give me twenty minutes, and anyway I didn't have more than an image to go off of and didn't want to run off the rails with it inventing false things. And the truth is I don't know him at all. That's why the lyrics are like this:

He nods, sometimes he don't, sometimes I don't either.
How's it going, hey there, think it's gonna rain.
Some people don't know, here they come now.

That's the extent of our interactions, day after day. The "some people" who don't know, the infux of new people to Nashville and the huge, unknowing changing effect on old Nashville, I'm part of that.

Musically, the song hangs on the simple pleasure of the hopping up from the E to the F# on the high string of a D chord that you hear frst thing, and the droning of a D while my thumb moves the root around. A meditative droning fngerpicking situation helps keep me straightforward and I wanted to make a realistic portrait of this man and this feeling, really the feeling this man evoked in my mind.

A couple years passed between writing and recording it. My close friend and frequent accompanist Rita Pfeiffer sang background and played mandolin. She's been there to help while many of my songs have gradually eroded by repeated playing into simpler and more sustainable forms. But as for this one, the way we recorded it is very close to how I frst wrote it. I believe the only change was something Rita suggested, holding the word "rain" all the way to the next line.

I wanted a live feeling, so we recorded it all together with the voice, guitar, and mandolin. I'd rather have energy and human faws than pristine dislocation. I mixed it myself, and now you're hearing it, just a few weeks after we recorded it.
Okay Alright – nothingness

Bryce, the man behind Okay Alright is a 21 year old musician from Chicago, currently based in LA. He has also released music under the monikers healer and war is over. nothingness recorded at one go on a sleepless night sounds disarmingly honest and captures the feeling of immediacy that's hard to fake.

Okay Alright
nothingness came from a desire to talk more honestly about my struggles and experience, without feeling like I have to dress it up too much in metaphors and proper song structures. I was a lot more loose when approaching the artistry of it, and I think that's what is really special about this song. I only recorded a few takes and didn't let myself get too caught up in the orchestration. I wanted to make an honest reflection of where I am currently at in life, specifically about my depression, and what that has been looking like for me recently. For me, it's feeling distant and feeling more like an observer of my own life than the person actually experiencing it. Yet, weirdly nothingness ends up being an almost happy song when you really think about it. because in the end those insignificant moments that I am singing about make up your whole life and can be so beautiful from the right perspective. The pretty girl on the train, my dog, the trader joe's encounter, they are all real moments from my life. Ones that are otherwise insignificant, but with the proper attention can also hold the essence of life. nothing matters, so really, everything matters if you let it. and that's what the song is really about.