As our regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of folk music. It doesn’t matter what sub-genre of folk it is, I’m sure to like it if it’s good! I’ve decided to delve more into the traditional folk side of things here, although the bands and artists listed in this review are still very different from one another. Who knows, you may find your new favourite folk artist on this page!
Review by Jane Howkins
Photo by Herald K
Herald K – Old Soul
First up is Austrian singer-songwriter Herald K – whilst he describes his music as ‘folk noir’, it still has a definitive traditional folk vibe. The main instrumentation comes from a simply strummed acoustic guitar, adding a rhythmic bent to the song. However, a range of traditional instruments can be heard in the background of Old Soul, including a particularly delightful violin and accordion section. The vocals are quite raw sounding at times, but they work really well with the style of music, making everything seem very genuine and sincere.
Mariele Jankowski – Autumnal Red
Mariele Jankowski has created something really beautiful on her new track, Autumnal Red.It opens instantly with a glorious fingerpicked acoustic guitar melody, seeing Mariele’s vocals follow the guitar notes in a fast yet perfect manner. The backing vocals appear on the chorus to accentuate the vocals even more, adding an extra element of beauty to the piece. There’s a slight cello section that can be heard in the background at times, although the focus still stays firmly on the vocals and guitars. If you’re a fan of Laura Marling, this is for you.
James Spencer – My Hand & My Heart
James Spencer brings another pretty acoustic folk tune to this list with his new release, My Hand & My Heart. The acoustic guitar melodies are fingerpicked in a lovely way, sounding like several guitars playing at once in the background of this tune. A faint accordion can also be heard, creating another beautiful layer to this tune. The song picks up the tempo a little as it progresses, introducing a rhythm section that makes you want to tap your feet along instantly. The vocals are a little low at times, but there’s a lot of passion contained within them.
Thomas Meleteas – I Klironomia
Now for something completely different – Thomas Meleteas is a Greek musician, creating traditional folk music in the style of his home country. As such, I Klironomia is very different from the other tracks on this list, but it’s still well worth your time. Thomas uses an array of interesting traditional instruments here, creating something with a subtle beauty. A haunting flute melody follows the guitars, as some tribal style drums work their way along slowly in the background. It’s an instrumental track, but it really doesn’t need any vocals adding, as it’s stunning as it is.
The Marsh Family – See Your Face Again
The Marsh Family is a British act that went viral during the pandemic, so you may be aware of their music already. See Your Face Again is their latest release, showing just who their music is so loved! The piano and guitars have a flowing quality, drifting along perfectly in this well written tune. However, the violin also shows its face a few times, crafting sumptuous melodies in the background. The vocals are lovely, but the harmonies are particularly stunning here, showing the true strength of The Marsh Family.
Bishopskin – Stella Splendens
Bishopskin is a really interesting proposition – this British act classifies their music as both prayer music and post-contemporary jazz, although you don’t have to be religious to enjoy new song Stella Splendens. The track has a fast beat, featuring some cool electric guitar riffs that clash perfectly with the bass, drums and violins that make up the rhythm here. It’s got a proper stomp, as the unique vocals follow the beat perfectly. The violins are also used to great effect, guaranteeing you’ll be tapping your feet along in no time!
Todd & Karen – Norwegian Summer
Todd & Karen bring another lovely folk tune to this list in the form of Norwegian Summer. As well as the traditional folk moments, it also has elements of the more modern folk style, making for a lovely mix of sounds. The vocals sound really wonderful here – both Karen and Todd sing different sections of the track, with Karen’s vocals having a wonderful harmonious sound. Todd’s section helps to add more variety to the piece, as the guitar trickle along perfectly underneath. It’s short yet sweet, leaving you longing for more.
Bineal Roy – Olden Eyes
Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bineal Roy is finally branching out into a solo career, with Olden Eyes being a practically perfect folk song. Roy’s voice is lovely, but the track also features Munia on vocals, singing a lovely array of backing vocals. The production is very clean, showing off the fantastic songwriting skills on offer here. The guitars are gorgeous crafted against the rhythm section, with lovely little piano motifs appearing every so often. This is one of my favourite songs on this entire list!
Corbin Dooley – Sweet Bird Of Freedom
Corbin Dooley is an alternative singer-songwriter and music producer based in Los Angeles. Sweet Bird Of Freedom doesn’t really sound like a traditional folk song the first time round, but take another listen and you might hear it! The accordion that appears every so often in the background is glorious, underpinning the ska/reggae-style rhythm perfectly. The bass is very prominent, fitting the drums well, as the vocals weave in and out of the rest of the music to add a pleasant vibe. Corbin also uses some interesting background effects, making this track really stand out!
Sweeter Than Sorrow – House of the rising sun
House of the rising sun is one of the most well known folk songs of all time, but Sweeter Than Sorrow has really managed to make it his own, changing the track up suitably. It’s much more stripped-down than the The Animals’ version, containing just a quiet piano melody as the main instrumentation, as the low vocals sing along. The vocals are quite raw sounding, absolutely drenched in emotion, especially on the higher notes. Sweeter Than Sorrow changes the dynamics perfectly here, as the music ebbs and flows away in a hauntingly beautiful manner.
Chris Pellnat – Super Saiyan
Super Saiyan is a banging new tune created by New York-based singer-songwriter, Chris Pellnat. It’s quite a joyous sounding track, containing an upbeat sensibility within it’s acoustic guitar-flecked melodies. It’s another song featuring an accordion, something I hope is having a resurgence! The accordion plays a lovely intro melody to each verse, as well as underpinning the chorus on occasion. It’a quite a short piece of work, but it’s amazingly suited to the traditional folk genre, so you really should take a listen to Super Saiyan!
Jenny Räisänen – Arctic Fox
As well as being a singer-songwriter, Jenny Räisänen is also a vocal coach, showing exactly how talented she is! Arctic Fox is a gorgeous piece of work, sounding beautiful from the very start. Jenny has quite a unique singing style, showing a huge range as she reaches those occasional high notes. In terms of music, the instrumentation is rather upbeat, featuring some lovely traditional folk instrumentation, as well as the strummed acoustic guitar. This is one for listeners into their Celtic style folk music.