Underground Folk – A Round-Up Review

Folk music has had a bit of a revival in the last decade or so, with nu-folk and the singer-songwriter genre becoming popular. I’ve always been a big fan of folk music and due to the slew of talented folk acts out there at the moment, I decided it would be a good chance to introduce some of the more underground folk artists to the world. Read on below and make sure you check out the playlist at the bottom!

By Jane Howkins

Photo by Darcy Kate

Darcy Kate – Songbird.

Songbird is the third single from Darcy Kate’s upcoming debut album, making it all the more impressive how good the song is. The track starts out with a slow acoustic guitar melody which provides the main instrumentation for the piece – Darcy’s soft voice is beautiful and works very well with the music. The whole thing sounds haunting and the simplicity of the music only adds to the beautiful feel. Check out her social media pages below to find out more.

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Presley Duyck – Juliet.

Presley Duyck is a singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas who is only twenty years old – it’s amazing that someone so young can produce music this good! Juliet has a fantastic chord sequence and the spaghetti western style guitar licks in the background really make the track, giving it a slight country/Americana edge to it as well as the folky elements. The main melody is really catchy but never sounds too commercialised, which is a plus for me.

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Rhona Macfarlane – No Rain.

Rhona Macfarlane is a folk musician from Scotland, who has been influenced by a wide range of musicians and singers-songwriters such as Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell & John Martyn. No Rain also reminded me a little of Laura Marling’s later work, which is high praise indeed, in my opinion! The song has quite an upbeat feel to it, despite the folky nature of the track – Rhona has a gorgeous singing voice and the strings that appeared later on in the song are simply stunning. You can find her website here.

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Kate Ellis – Wonderland.

Kate Ellis is an American singer-songwriter originally from the USA, who is now based in London. Wonderland will instantly pull you in with the main melody, which sounds beautiful from the off. She has a sultry vocal style and the vocal harmonies on the chorus are lovely. The track has an environmental message within the lyrics about the beauty of the world, which is definitely a good thing – it’s great to hear musicians like Kate using their voices for the betterment of society in this manner.

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Elise – Ragdoll.

Elise is an Irish musician who has started quite a successful career in her home country – now it’s time for the rest of the world to pay attention! Ragdoll features a beautiful fingerpicked guitar melody which aligns well with the piano melody that runs alongside it – the song is rather upbeat for a folk track but the rhythm makes it sound rather catchy. The vocals are quite interesting – at times Elise uses distorted effects but she also uses her normal voice as well, which is gorgeous.

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Feralman – The Ballad Of Life And Death.

The Ballad Of Life And Death is a new release from Welsh/Australian musician and singer-songwriter Feralman. Despite his background, I felt there was something of a Celtic feel to the track and the flute melody was lovely – I don’t often hear woodwind elements in folk music anymore, so this was a nice surprise. The male and female vocal harmonies also sound great and really helped to add something special to the song.

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Grand Alpaca – Wolves/Little Lies.

Wolves/Little Lies is a beautiful folk song from Oslo based artist Grand Alpaca – it starts out in typical folk fashion with a slow acoustic guitar melody. This continues for most of the song with Grand Alpaca’s vocals accompanying the music – his voice is rather warm and the vocal harmonies that appear later on in the song are lovely. The tempo ramps up a little towards the end, making for a nice dynamic change.

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Matthew Liam Nicholson – Dusty Bones.

Matthew Liam Nicholson is a singer-songwriter, musician and band leader from Australia – his music is a little different from some of the other songs on he list in that it involves an aspect of mysticism – you can really hear the psychedelic elements in latest song, Dusty Bones. This was my favourite song of the lot and I felt the opening melody was stunning, mixing well with the rest of the music and Matthew’s vocals. Make sure you check out his social media pages below!

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Nero Simon And The Sunsetters – Forever.

Forever is a new song from American band Nero Simon And The Sunsetters, an American band who’s music contains element of folk, Americana and country music. Forever has quite an upbeat feel to it and should have you tapping your toes along in no time, the vocals also sound amazing when accompanied by the music. The track isn’t actually out until March 2022 but make sure you check the rest of their music out, I have added another track to the playlist called Starboard (Escape To Cozumel) for now until Forever is released.

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Stephen James Orr, Gisun, Beth Silver – Wake Up.

Wake Up is a collaboration between three Canadian artists, guitarist Stephen James Orr, vocalist Gisun and cellist Beth Silver. The song has quite a slow feel to it, with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar melody providing the main instrumentation for the piece, alongside the cello harmonies in the background. The track sounds quite beautiful at times and the lyrics have a very poetic feel to them, heightened in part by the pretty vocal style.

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Ayrton Jimenez – Sin Tu Amor.

Ayrton Jimenez was born in England but has Colombian heritage – his cultural background has influenced his music greatly, as can be heard on latest release Sin Tu Amor. The track is possibly the most unique song on this list, with it having a Spanish classical guitar sound to it – it’s more in line with traditional South American folk music than the typical English/American folk music you tend to think of when considering the genre – Ayrton’s vocals also sound rather different to the norm too.

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The Macarons Project – Hold Us Tight.

The Macarons Project are an Indonesian duo made up of Ree and Dito – their latest song Hold Us Tight was influenced by the recent Covid 19 lockdowns and the separation between people and their loved ones, something most people will be able to relate with. It’s an understated song with a slow acoustic guitar melody providing most of the music – the vocal harmonies are simply gorgeous and work well with the rest of the music.

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Gavan Waldby – Why Don’t You Care About Me.

Why Don’t You Care About Me is a new song from Gavan Waldby, an indie singer-songwriter and musician from Brisbane, Australia. He’s had quite a diverse musical career over the years and he is now trying his hand at recording his own music, with folk song Why Don’t You Care About Me being a result of this. The track has quite a positive feel to it (despite the title) and I really liked Gavin’s little noodly guitar melodies that run throughout the piece.

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Kat Flowers – Pretty Things.

Pretty Things is a pretty folk song from Kat Flowers, a folk-pop artist from Brisbane in Australia, who emerged onto her local scene in 2018. Pretty Things is a slow folk song with a catchy feel to it at times, Kat has the perfect voice for this style of music, making it all sound very beautiful. There’s a sense of urgency to her vocals which really helps to highlight the rest of the music when she belts her vocals out.

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Foreigner – Drops Of Indigo.

We’ve actually featured Swedish indie-folk band Foreigner’s music here before and I’ve reviewed Drops Of Indigo already, but it’s that good a track that I wanted to feature it here as well. The song also features elements of country and Americana in the mix and it’s rather catchy, with the song having some lovely guitar melodies and vocal harmonies. These guys are set for the big time so if you haven’t checked them out already, make sure you check out Drops Of Indigo in the playlist below.

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Haleigh Bowers – Not Your Girl.

Not Your Girl is the last song on my list, being performed by musician and singer-songwriter Haleigh Bowers, a self-proclaimed ‘word nerd’, based in Los Angeles. The track is simply beautiful to listen to, with an amazing chord sequence and some brilliant guitar melodies running throughout the song – Haleigh also has an impressive singing voice, which suits the music well. She’s releasing a new album next year so make sure you check it out if you like Not Your Girl.

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