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Artist Spotlight: Sofia Talvik

Sofia Talvik is an artist that I discovered while searching for free Christmas music last year. Her 2007 Christmas single, simply entitled "Christmas", had such a unique, twisted take on traditional Christmas music that I made a note to check out more of her music after Christmas was over. When I found her 2008 Christmas single, "A Carol for the Lonely", I absolutely fell in love with the song and began looking for more of her music immediately (both of these songs are still available on her download page in case you want to either get a really early start on this year's Christmas music or do some catching up on last year's Christmas music). Fortunately, she has a lot of music that can be checked out absolutely free from a variety of sources; this post is an attempt to bring all of those sources together in order to make this wonderful music easier to find.

The first thing I would recommend is a very awesome twist on the idea of a free album. Sofia allowed 13 artists from around the world to each remix one song from her 2007 album Street of Dreams, the result being Street of Dreamix, which can be obtained totally free from her website. This album is very similar in spirit to the Nine Inch Nails remix albums, especially since most of those are also now being given away freely (if a little quietly) on the NIN remix site. Some of my favourite tracks on the album are Tobiah's remix of "It's Silly Now", with its 8-bit sound effects, and Libra's remix of "Running Out of You", which is just an awesome song period.

Sofia's page also plays host to a number of freely available tracks - all you need to do is look for "free download" links. pages can be quite volatile, with tracks going up and down all the time, so I can't say for sure what you'll see there when you visit, but some of the great songs I've been able to find there are "Ghosts", "Wish" (the original version of one of the songs from Street of Dreams), and the infectiously catchy "Blåa linjen Hem".

Likewise, her iLike page has a number of free downloads available - just look for the "Free MP3" links this time. The real highlight here is a set of 7 live tracks; a little Googling revealed that these are from a recording of an unplugged concert by Swedish radio station P4. These are among my favourite tracks that I have discovered, as Sofia's vocals and songwriting skills both shine brilliantly in the unplugged format. Also of note on the iLike page is a cover of Joni Mitchell's "River", which is done beautifully.

There's a good bit of overlap on each of these sites, but each also has things that you won't find on the others, so if you like what you hear, you'd do well to hit each of these sites and scoop up whatever you can find. Have fun, and happy listening!



Artist Spotlight: JT Bruce

Happy New Year! This spotlight is one that's long overdue, as I began listening to this artist about a year ago (in fact, he was one of the first artists I came across when I began searching for free music) before getting sidetracked with other things. He recently released a new album, though, so that makes the timing of this post at least somewhat appropriate.

JT Bruce is a solo musician who makes primarily instrumental progressive rock/metal music. Think an instrumental version of Dream Theater (so, basically Liquid Tension Experiment) and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Ever since I discovered him on Jamendo, his albums have been among the most popular on that site, and with good reason. His songs are lengthy, technical, extremely well-written, and expertly produced. Listening to one of his albums is like being taken on an epic journey, whether it is through the mind of a dreamer in The Dreamer's Paradox or through the cosmos in Universica.

I have spent more time listening to The Dreamer's Paradox than any of his other albums. It is a true concept album, complete with an overture and recurring themes, and it ends with a spoken explanation of the entire concept. I have also really been enjoying his latest album, Universica, which features 9 tracks each named after a star and shows a continuing evolution of his sound.

You can download JT Bruce's music directly from his website, although he recommends getting it from either or Jamendo, as that will save him some bandwidth. Whichever option you choose, you're in for a great experience. Happy listening!