Folk Music Double Feature: Portland’s Goose and Fox, Jacksonville’s Four Families

The early 21st century is a great time for folk music. There are some incredible bands making inspiring music. Two of those bands are Goose and Fox as well as Four Families. They are double featured here for their different styles but excellent performance. They both deserve your attention.

Goose and Fox
-Yet another fantastic group from the great Northwest, Portland’s Goose and Fox have the quintessential pop folk sound. Strings, vocals, and even some sultry horns help to make the album smoother than you’d expect. This ain’t the banjo janglin’ folk music that we sometimes feature. This is soft and sweet, something like a glass of wine with dinner. In fact, the horns are one of the best parts of this band, taking a prominent role on tracks like “The Stone.” Lead singer Allison Hall is the star of the show with a pure voice bringing the kind of mellow melodies we want to hear from a band like this. Her partner in crime Noah Woodburn provides the highlighting harmonies that make their sound. Fans of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes particularly will want to give this album a spin.

Four Families
-Bringing rich strings and some pretty gnarly guitar play, Four Families have a style that’s been missing on the folk music scene. They seem more clearly influenced by the punk/grunge world than most of the folk acts making music today. The feature of the band is the lead singer Robin Ruetenberg. Her vocal quality and phrasing makes the “swoon rock” style work really well. There are even elements of modern jazz layered into the sound. There are no banjos or mandolins here, but the full flavored soft rock style is every bit a kind of hipster jive you’d expect to hear at a really good off-the-beaten path coffee shop. For what it’s worth “Native Histories,” a classic jazz jam with amazing vocals, is probably the best track on the album. It’s hard to find a comparative band, but suffice it to say if you like a unique twist on the conventional “folk” scene, this is the band for you.

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