Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent

Musical Motivation: Laura Cortese

Berklee College of Music in Boston alumni Laura Cortese debuted back in 2004 with the lush folk of Hush. Her sonic journey since has been one of experimental growth. With some stunning highs, she is about the reveal her finest record to date. Recorded with her band The Dance Cards, Bitter Better sees her folk leanings married to a pop sensibility that is delivered with a real warmth of heart. To celebrate the impending release, we caught up with her and asked, what song makes you...


Sugar by Stevie Wonder from Signed Sealed Delivered

I could have also picked this for a song that makes me what to dance. If I'm dancing, I'm smiling.


Josh Ritter - Thin Blue Flame

I get lost and found again.


Any song by Rose Cousins, but if I have to pick one, I'll say "The Swimmer (To Be an Old Man)" from Bravado

My father passed away when I was 17, so this song always gets me.


Carol of the Bells by Mannheim Steamroller from A Fresh Aire Christmas

It is admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine, but mostly because it is so over the top, I can't help but laugh even at the darkest time of year.

Want to work out:

Lucius - Turn it Around or Get There, especially for running

In 2016 while on tour in the UK, I was training in a half-assed way to run my first half marathon. I remember running through fields and around neighborhoods blasting Lucius' album Wildewoman. I got lost one day, and when I got home, I had run over 9 miles with that album on repeat. That was the moment I realized I was going to survive the half marathon.


I could have picked so many, but I'll go with Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls from Crazy Sexy Cool by TLC.

While incredibly nostalgic, this track feels as good as it did when I blasted it from the stereo on my Dad's sports car as he drove me home from school in San Francisco.


Hengilás by Jónsi

This is the only song I know by this band, but I'm obsessed with the expansive orchestral with brass soundscape and yet incredibly intimate vocal. I listen to this on repeat to relax at the end of a busy day or tour. It helps that the lyrics are in Icelandic, and I have NO idea what they are singing.

Feel Determined

Otis Redding's version of A Change is Gonna Come

It's STILL a long time coming, but his version of this song always makes me want to fight harder to create the change I want to see in the world.


Beyoncé - Crazy in Love from Homecoming Live

The documentary and album are incredibly powerful with the second line marching band, steppers, art forms that grew out of HBCU's (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). I dare you to listen to that and try to sit still.

Pre-order BITTER BETTER out July 17 on Compass Records: