Among the various music genres that are featured in this blog, folk music is certainly one of the most fascinating ones. With its magical balance between tradition and modernity, this kind of music always manages to make us dream of distant lands or hit us in the soul for the involving and mysterious stories it tells.
Going through the list of the best folk albums that have been published in this first part of the year, we can also discover how many different variations exist today of folk music: from the austere and authoritative style of Stick in the Wheel, to the energetic rock of Sigulka.
But before starting with the Top Five chart, let me give you the usual recommendation: if you arrived to this page from a search engine, please check if this is really the most recent edition of the chart. You can easily browse among the most recent articles for folk music by going straight to the corresponding section of the blog. This is the first list of folk albums published by S.B.G. in 2018 and it presents the best LPs that were released between the beginning of the year and the second decade of February 2018.
#1) THE ART OF FORGETTING by Kyle Carey
Despite being a relatively young contributor to the folk world, American songwriter Kyle Carey has already taken a prominent role among the representatives of American Celtic music, which is that special style of folk that mixes together western European sounds with American (in this case Appalachian) elements. On early 2018 she released the third full-lenght album of her discography, The Art of Forgetting, and all the good things that have been said and written of her so far are absolutely confirmed by this new record. The beauty of Carey’s last album is further enhanced by the quality of the musicians who have been called to contribute to the recording of the songs. The release notes of the LP show that Carey has called together a super team of artists. Just to mention a few ones, we have singer, violinist and banjo player Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), American guitarist Sam Broussard (from the Cajun band Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys), and Scottish folk musician and composer John McCusker.
#2) RUINS by First Aid Kit
(Country / Folk)
First Aid Kit, the Swedish folk duo consisting of the two Söderberg sisters, released in January 2018 a new album, Ruins, which enriches an already interesting and valid discography. The album is particularly interesting because it shows a clear desire of the two sisters to experiment with new styles and directions for their music, in particular as regards the increased presence of elements of country music. Even if they’re still relatively young (the older of the two, Johanna, hasn’t reached yet her thirty years) the two Söderber sisters have already demonstrated a remarkable musical maturity, and tin this respect the songs of their latest album show a further improvement in terms of musical sensibility and songwriting skills.
#3) FOLLOW THEM TRUE by Stick in the Wheel
Follow Them True is the second album from the English folk band Stick in the Wheel, and it arrives two years and half after their 2015’s debut work, From Here. Since the beginning of their career this quintet of folk enthusiasts has adopted an austere and formal approach to folk music, which is characterized also by the choice to use only acoustic instrumentation. As a result, their songs have Always an ancient and suggestive charm which further exalts the fantastic voice of the singer Nicola Kearey. In the new album you won’t find danceable songs or pop-folk motifs, but rather a very good collection of ancient ballads and melodies of the past, all revisited with an aggressive spirit. Only in some moments the tension and the austherity seem to leave the field for slightly more relaxed and poetic tones, and perhaps these are the most accessible and enjoyable parts of the disc, at least for the casual listener.
#4) SYMBOLS by Sigulka
Sigulka is a rock band from Spain which has crafted a very unique style of music, that may be summarized as a mix of hard rock and heavy metal but deeply rooted into the celtic tradition. Their sound is also very particular because of the composition of the line-upwhich features a violinist as a stable member, and also for the extensive use of acoustic instruments. The new album from the band, Symbols, is a nice collection of accessible and generally enjoyable songs. Maybe the rhythms are a bit too slow and in the long run the songs tend to look too much similar, but there are still some interesting moments such as the song On Fire, which is one of the best tracks of the album.
#5) BETWEEN TWO SHORES by Glen Hansard
(Folk / Songwriter)
Glen Hansard is one of those artists who have too much creativity for remaining anchored to a single form of expression and in fact, in his career, we’ve met him playing many different roles: folk guitarist, singer, songwriter, and actor. In his latest solo album, Between Two Shores, we see him engaged with a very wide range of musical styles, from classic rock to peaceful and intimate folk. Probably, when compared to his previous releases, the new LP shows a little less brilliance and freshness, and not every song is interesting in the same way. The most energetic pieces are maybe the most successful tracks on the record.
If you liked this post, you could be interested also in the following articles:
- MELANCHOLIC FOLK, because not every day is bright and shiny.
- Could the Kyuss song “Odyssey” be inspired by a Scottish ballad from the 1700s?