Four Of The Fabulous Folk Albums Released In Recent Years

Arts & EntertainmentBooks & Music

  • Author Alex Belsey
  • Published February 4, 2022
  • Word count 841

Recent years have seen music spring to life in many areas that previously seemed dead. One genre that has seen a particular boom in the last couple of years is the folk scene. With the rise in outdoor living, wellness trends, and going back to basics, many people are beginning to rediscover the simple life. For many, this also includes going back to their musical roots.

Folk music is an inspirational way to tap into the voices of those who came before. There is something undeniably spiritual about singing the songs that generations of men and women have sung before you.

Why not have a listen to our picks and see how they touch your soul?

The Soundtrack: Aidan O’Rourke - Iorram (Boat Song)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrzOUGjeuSU&list=OLAK5uy_lQlbD2EfFKpjpXLuzQzmPvIBsa7SYUSy8

Any good soundtrack should be well put-together enough to listen to on its own. And Aidan O'Rourke certainly achieves this with Iorram.

The music, with its haunting Irish folk melodies, is playfully updated with elements of jazz accompaniment, as light touches of saxophone add a gentle lift to the mournful sound of the fiddle. An ode to the generations of Irish fishermen who have been working the coast for centuries, the lyrics are in traditional Gaelic, the throaty voices of the folk singers bringing a suggestion of the harshness of life on the waves.

The music is dizzying, hypnotic, and spiritual, in a grounded way. O'Rourke is a master of his craft, and although the folk singers' voices add depth and a human voice to the music, they are not required. The music touches the soul all on its own, echoes of a landscape ever-changing.

The Guitarist: Yasmin Williams - Urban Driftwood

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCxGY6FM_DQ&list=OLAK5uy_kkomkkaWc8UrZUfzeLQoaNGDxuTKcMt-o

Listening to Urban Driftwood, there is a lightness that is transcendental; the notes tumble like swallows on the wind, grounded by the earthy, rhythmic tones of the drums and the gently melodic song of the kalimba.

Yasmin's music sounds like hope. There is a deeper yearning that breathes another story beneath the cheerful top notes, but it never loses its sense of life and beauty. Her music dances from spirited to wistful, and captures a freshness, a sense of youth through the changing ages - like leaves turning red on an autumn day. It's the kind of music that you want to listen to by the fire; it warms your soul.

There are no lyrics to Williams’ songs and they don’t need them. Her guitar speaks for her more clearly than words ever could. There is a subtlety to the music that could not be easily captured in a song.

Williams is a very promising guitarist and her second album is an enticing insight into her depths as a musician. We are excited to see what more will come from her.

The Folk Rocker: Grace Cummings - Storm Queen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KT3iL5SMo4&list=OLAK5uy_mrWjfHwJxCrv0Up2hszP3k9r4TWh-mh7U

The title of Grace Cummings’ second album is a simple yet intriguing hint as to the chaotic emotional whirlwind captured in each song. There is a rolling rhythm with the rise and fall of her voice, from the deep, soulful depths of the lowest tones, to the more fragile, brittle high notes - like the swell and ebb of a wave.

Her voice is timeless; you could place her music in any given era. There are echoes of ancient Irish folk ballads roughly edged with the gravelly tones of modern rock. She perfectly bridges the gaps between time and space; sometimes bluesy and cool, with a smooth timbre - other times fierce, raspy and passionate.

The backing track is used tastefully, and every note and addition is carefully chosen. Her style is minimalistic, and it compliments the richness of her voice perfectly. There are echoes of Bob Dylan in the twang of the acoustic guitar, but it still feels fresh today.

Overall, if you’re looking for a rollercoaster ride of an album, which sweeps you up and away into its storytelling, Storm Queen is a beautiful, bluesy twist on the folk genre.

The Duo: Watchhouse – Self-Titled

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X_AEuqWak4&list=PL0mSnUSmZIvubMw8xRBf-a64nKYUorlQN

If you're looking for a chilled out, nostalgic ode to Americana, Watch House will warm your heart and fill you with memories of the Old West that you haven't lived. The casual, melodic strumming of the guitar is effortless and perfectly in harmony with the roll of the lyrics. At points, a fiddle or melodica is used to lift the music, and it creates such a beautifully bittersweet effect that it is impossible not to be compelled by the stories behind the lyrics.

Watchhouse brings together the very best of the American ballad and reveals the raw heart at the centre. This album captures the essence of the West, and keeps it neatly between its covers.

Albums reviewed by Holly Jackson for Superlocrian (https://superlocrian.co.uk/)

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