From all indie genres, Folk seems to have a special place in our hearts. We can't help to get back to folk songs when we look for some calm and inspiration. When we want to hope for a nice dream. Or when we are feeling in the mood for some very well told stories. As an honour to those feelings, this series is entitled TIFU (Today I Folked Up). Only folk songs from new folk artists. To let you and ourselves go.
Atomic Blonde – Kansas City Sunset
Atomic Blonde‘s love for music does not have the typical story woven into her life. She had a fulfilling childhood and a loving family. She was happy… until she wasn’t. Toward the end of middle school, some unusual medical issues developed. At just 14 years old, she saw several specialists and even spent a week at Mayo Clinic Hospital undergoing tests trying to determine the cause of this “medical mystery”.
She is in a much better place now, but all of this took a toll on my mental health, and there was a permanent struggle with friendships and other relationships because of it. However, throughout the illness, music has always been her outlet.
“Kansas City Sunset” her latest track, is an emotional, allegorical song crafted from euphoric memory. A beautiful self-biased track where we can feel the emotional charge through a gorgeous piano-based layer and pouring impressive vocals. Sometimes it reminds us a bit of Lana Del Rey, others the track sonority flows from a much melancholic genuine folk vibe. Overall this feels intense and gorgeous, every single time we put it on play and increase the volume.
Bad Mother Nature – Hawks, Doves and Gamblers
With one of the most hooking choruses we heard all year, comes “Hawks, Doves and Gamblers” by Bad Mother Nature.
They are a Sacramento-based rock group formed in 2016 who already released an EP and 3 full-lengths in the last 4 years, which grant them comparisons to bands like The Eagles, Black Pistol Fire, The Black Keys and the great Fleetwood Mac. These comparisons are drawn from their great feel of rock mixed with folk and Americana elements, but also because of the very much electric guitar solos and meaningful lyrics. And also due to their range in making music that ranges from a retro power to a modern feel.
“Hawks, Doves and Gamblers” is not only a catchy chorus that you will be singing in no time but also a song inspired by serious matters and impulsed by drummer Jon McCann’s service in Afghanistan in 2013, as well as the recent war in Ukraine. While providing a sort of light ambience that even feels like moving our feet along, the track mixes a groovy vibe with a serious message of gambling war and peace. The warm vocals contribute a lot to this familiar engagement with it, as also do the beautiful choirs, the gorgeous guitar elements that always sound on the verge of exploding, and a sort of circular structure that makes want to sing the final chorus out loud.
This is also the first single from their upcoming EP, “A thousand Days of Desert Rain and Madness“, set to release at the end of 2022.
Burs – Try
Burs are the creative family of Lauren Dillen, Ray Goudy, Devon Savas and Oliver Compton (you can see our presentation of them here). The Toronto-born indie outfit digs deep into an array of influences to build sounds that marry existential motifs with ethereal soundscapes. Underpinned by strings, textures and percussion, their music beckons to alternative and folk enthusiasts alike, all the while presenting listeners with a uniquely personal approach to quartet interplay.
“Try“, their latest track, derives from a recent batch of their compositional works, highlighting a practice of delicate layering exercised in their initial remote efforts. The subtlety and juxtaposition of “Try” proved sensible as a sophomore album single.
“Try is for anyone who’s ever been suffocated by a job. I’ve been through so many different work situations in so little time. It doesn’t get any easier, but we have to work hard to sustain ourselves in a broken system. An ex-boss of mine followed me around for a while after I quit, and it was clear they were angry that I wasn’t going to be doing their bidding anymore. I had my reasons, but they continued to spend so much time and energy trying to make my situation miserable; they wouldn’t stop beating a dead horse. The song is saying, go ahead and try, see what good it does.” – Ray Goudy
Denitia – Old Friend
Born and raised outside Houston, Denitia’s southern heritage forms a canvas for her evolving musical portrait. As a child, she performed in church choirs and taught herself to play piano and guitar from her family’s trailer in the woods. She carried those experiences with her as she made her way around the country, moving to Nashville for college, and Brooklyn thereafter. Now based in New York’s Hudson Valley, Denitia’s portfolio of work reveals melodic stories spanning states, cities, and times.
Inching closer to her Fall album release, she released a heartfelt, sentimental track entitled “Old Friend“. The overarching theme of Denitia’s latest singles has branched from the collective feelings of isolation during the pandemic. The time removed from chaos introduced an opportunity for Denitia to truly dive into introspective storytelling inspired by nostalgia and a desire to reconnect with her roots. In this track, we sway to the delicate guitar strums as she thinks of fond memories of interactions with people she hasn’t seen in a while. Daydreaming, Denitia envisions what it might be like to interact with an old friend, wondering if the connection would naturally reignite or if they would feel like strangers.
Eliza Edens – Westlawn Cemetery
Born and raised in rural Massachusetts and currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Eliza Edens weaves disparate influences of people and places into her work to create mesmerizing sonic tapestries with guitar and voice. The resulting sound is a diverse palette of guitar-based, experimental folk-rock centred around Eden’s gently cradled voice and brimming at the edges with pockets of sonic whimsy. After cutting her teeth touring the DIY and folk circuits around the Northeast, Edens is due to release her sophomore album We’ll Become the Flowers on October 14th.
About Westlawn Cemetery, the second single out off the record, Eliza Edens says: “During the depths of the pandemic, I was hunkering down at my childhood home with my parents in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. I went for walks every day, usually just up the street to a small, bucolic cemetery where I formed many early memories – sledding, walking the dog, learning to drive. During this time while I was home, it started to become clear that my mother needed extra care due to her illness. One afternoon on one of my walks, I started thinking a lot about mortality, the irony of gravestones, and how much time she spent as a professional gardener – tending to the earth and making the world a more beautiful place in the most literal way. Those thoughts swirled together, and this song manifested after fussing around in a tuning I learned from a Nick Drake song. My collaborator Pat had the idea of putting very thick, low-end electronic drums on the song which adds a felt heartbeat and weight to the song. It’s all about the difficulty of accepting change and death.”
Eliza Harrison Smith – August
Name after last month, and encapsulating Folk with Pop vibes, “August” is the fourth song released by Eliza Harrison Smith and her first release this year. She describes it as the first song she has written that truly represents her vision as an artist. The track tries to capture the energy and nostalgia of the end of Summer and there is definitely a warm breeze feeling about it: that starts with the acoustic guitar and continues with the airy and crystal clear vocals.
Very much organic and feeling classic in that sense, we could make comparisons with acts like Taylor Swift and Lucy Rose, also on the way Eliza sings her heart out loud without sounding ever over the top but always straight from the heart, without exaggerations but with a lot of good taste and feelings. The chorus is catchy and warm and the vocals are the shiniest element in it, without a doubt. The incredible production by the hands of Adam Grover (Zach Bryan, The Brook & The Bluff, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise) also definitely makes it shine greatly out loud or as a whispered breeze.
Gidea – Intrepid Traveler
“Intrepid Traveler” is Gidea‘s first single. Featuring cello, harp and layered harmonies, the song title nods to 1960s The Merry Pranksters member Ken Babbs who nicknamed himself “the intrepid traveller.” Sonically, “Intrepid” follows the likes of Joanna Newsom, Kate Bush and Linda Perhacs.
Charming yet puzzling to classify, one might guess that Gidea’s foremost muse is the delight of the natural world. The artist’s fixation with beauty can be felt and heard through both her arrangements and lyrics. Mimicking the friskiness of a mountain stream or the hush of leaves riding a breeze, Gidea blends playfulness with the ethereal. So open a window, hit play and breath in the Venusian principle of enjoyment.
Heather Cook – Blood Moon
Heather Cook is a singer/songwriter from New Jersey preparing to release her thirteen-song debut LP “Quick! No One’s Looking“. Emotional and playful, Cook’s musical style uses atmospheric harmonies and catchy melodies to tell stories of early heartbreak and nostalgia. Having grown up in the sweaty basement-show scene of NJ, her work is often inspired by the youthful and sometimes haunting memories of the Garden State. Her rock influences include local bands such as The Front Bottoms and Streetlight Manifesto, whereas her softer acoustic songs are more comparable to the energy of (Sandy) Alex G and Big Thief.
Like a late-night phone call in the summertime comes “Blood Moon” the third single off the upcoming debut LP. This is a dreamy acoustic folk song that weaves atmospheric harmonies and nostalgic lyrics into a warm letter from an old friend. The verses craft imagery of forgotten starry nights in the suburbs and the chorus reminds us that “it’s all better now, and if it’s not we’ll figure it out”. Echoing the likes of Bright Eyes, The Avett Brothers, and Tomberlin, Blood Moon is a tried-and-true sentimental folk tune.
Katie Keddie – Comfort and Despair
“This song was one of the first I had ever written back in 2019 and is about people lifting you up when you’re in a bad place. It really came to life just after lockdown when I and a group of close friends and musicians spent a week recording in a beautiful old mill in Wales“. There is probably no better way to introduce “Comfort and Despair” the second ever track released by the exciting new talent that is Katie Keddie.
Starting gentle and paused, sensible and immediately calling our hearts, there is a whisper in her vocal tone that completely make us listen attentively. Sometimes delicacy and humbleness can be easily heard. When allied to honesty and a sense of good mission that is even easier to be heard. Well, Katie allies all her sensibility and capacity of writing from within with a gorgeous acoustic guitar that alternates shiness with powerful hooks and bits. Along the final minute, there are also soft choir elements and a voice that turns the back role letting the guitar express all the feelings that sometimes we need to express while not talking much but still feeling desperate. A track that makes us very comfortable in our own skin, and invites us to not be afraid.
The track will also be part of “Alaska Sadness” the upcoming album from Katie.
Paul Moody – Time Bomb
Hailing from Woodstock, New York, Paul Moody makes music that is inherently and shamelessly Folk. With references such as Tallest Man on Earth and the Felice Brothers, Paul’s work as a singer-songwriter that does it all by himself is already established through a couple of full-lengths (released two and four years ago) and a lot of new tracks with a very intense activity in the last two years. Tracks that are usually very much self-reflective and melancholic, but also where the listener can easily find a light and a way of calming down. “Time Bomb” is his latest, a track incorporate into a new 3-track EP entitled “Pop Star“.
“Time Bomb” is described as most of all an honest song about trying to give love when there is pain and baggage. That honesty is easily noticeable in the gorgeous folky banjo-like guitar that accompanies the listener from the first moment of the song. While a track about negative feelings of rejection, the whole sonority and beautiful melodies transport the listener to a sense of calm and inner pacification. The gentle vocal tone and the harmonies of Keith Goodwin are always feeling like a breeze that brings good and positive feelings, even if those feelings need to be conceived and observed behind a wall of delicacy and pardon. And you know what we say? There is nothing more beautiful than pardon. It’s up to us to make all time bombs this gentle.
Rapt – Only Water
Rapt are a Post-Folk/Indie Folk/Ambient from London. It’s also the alias of Jacob Ware. In an outward way, Rapt is an explorer. Over the years, the SE London-based artist has placed roots in many different genres, forming Brighton’s death metal group Enslavement as well as mapping the sonic planes of ambient drone under his current moniker. Although, what we get from his latest offering is far removed from either of these stylistic endeavours. Through his latest songs, we witness Rapt as perhaps his most vulnerable.
Rapt’s transparency lends to his lyricism. Being pure poetry above all else. His latest track “Only Water” is a reflection on climate change, posterity, love and the ruthless grind that is fate and the hours we face. Described as a Post-Folk, ambient duet, harrowing and in no rush to establish itself, “Only Water” will engulf you and drag you into its aural world, while calming you and alerting you like the hearth is speaking in one only voice.
Siv Jakobsen – Romain’s Place
Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen has become known for her gorgeous music since the release of her debut EP “The Lingering” in 2015, and as she is preparing for the release of her next record, “Gardening“, it’s only fair we talk about her latest single, “Romain’s Place“.
“Romain’s Place” is a gorgeous song, a beautiful ode to what folk music can be, lost between ethereal beauty and frosty atmospheres, Siv’s voice and songwriting guiding us through the mist (it kinda reminds us of Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker) into a safe and comfortable place. Marvellous.
Regarding the track, Siv Jakobsen mentions the following regarding inspiration for the track: “Right before the pandemic hit, I was on a small tour and found myself back in a city I used to call home. I hadn’t been back since I left it (and the relationship I had there) behind a good few years ago. I felt quite shocked by how my body and mind reacted to being back and realised quickly that I had some emotional unpacking to do. I was staying with my friend Romain at the time, and for me, my time in his apartment encapsulates this realisation and the start of me dealing with these ghosts from my past that had laid dormant for a while. I was so overwhelmed at the time that it felt as if I was going crazy. I really did feel haunted, as if I had jumped into a time-machine and was somehow back in the past.”
“Gardening” will be released on 20th January 2023 via The Nordic Mellow and it was produced by Hans Olav Settem and Simen Mitlid, mixed by Zach Hanson (Bon Iver, Hand Habits, Sylvan Esso, The Tallest Man On Earth), and featuring instrumental contributions from Emma Gatrill (This Is The Kit, Nick Cave, Lucy Rose) and Marcus Hamblett (Laura Marling, James Holden, The Staves).
Slowlife – Dreaming
Slowlife is the musical alter-ego of Patrick Behrens, a singer-songwriter from Southern Germany who taught himself on how to record his own songs at home and in the midst of it all “found the sound he didn’t know he was looking for“. His debut EP entitled “Grey City” was released two years ago as a reference to his hometown, and now Patrick is back with the dream-folk single “Dreaming“.
The track is described as a “dream away & sone out” kind of song, that feels a mix of mysterious and soothing to a relaxing vibe. With an ever-growing guitar echo and a distant “boxed” voice that sounds like the voice of conscience, there is a beautiful layer of elements that grow all through the track, always sounding more complex and more filled with colours and bits. The guitar loop almost does not feel like a loop due to all the elements on top, but we still feel that sense of realization while making sense of a repetition pattern. And that’s totally on him! Written in Italy, the lyrics tell us about all kinds of dreams one can have, and there is definitely a sort of dream soundtrack in it all that makes us feel we are not completely in a real environment. The track gives us space to also inner contemplate and reflect and works perfectly as a charming meditation.
Tomo – Going Under
Tomo is an indie/folk singer-songwriter (already featured here), based in Bristol, UK. Taking inspiration from a wide range of influences, including Radical Face, Shane Macgowan, Leonard Cohen and Charles Bukowski, he has recently released his debut album, “Before The Dawn“.
Tomo releases his latest single, “Going Under” as an emotional portrait of love and loss detailing the end of a relationship. Talking about a theme so many times made into a track could make this a banal track if not for the masterful capacity for turning gorgeous melancholic melodies into hooking inspiring songs. Only great singer-songwriters can achieve that, and we think Tomo is one of them. The acoustic guitar sounds fresher than ever, and his delicate but strong vocals feel nothing but caramel.
Whitney Fenimore – Holding Hands
Whitney Fenimore is a singer-songwriter born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and currently living in Nashville, Tennessee. Her experiences and influences from being immersed in music-heavy cities such as Los Angeles and Nashville have greatly shaped what her forthcoming album, “Leaving Ashwood“, is all about. Since moving to Nashville four years ago, Whitney explains, the city “has pushed me to be a better musician and songwriter since everyone here does the same thing, you have to keep up! You’re a small fish in a huge pond, but it’s really great because it challenges you.“
Her latest track, “Holding Hands”, is a gorgeous folk tune, spearheaded by a pop touch not unlike Taylor Swift – clearly the biggest influence on Whitney. The track is, according to the artist, a song about “loving who you are and loving who you love. Living your truth and not being afraid to do so.”
All these songs (and all previous songs featured in TIFU) are also featured on our folk playlist. Follow it on Spotify:
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