Four Fabulous Folk Acts for Summer 2016
If you’ve been a long time follower of EarToTheGround, then you know that we cover a ton of folk music in the year. In fact it’s so much that some argue they cannot keep up. Most people can only fall in love with a few new bands each year. It’s hard to follow everyone; we get it. We really do. But these four, well, we think you should give them a spin because they just might crack into your top artists for 2016!
Vincent Colbert – Unwind
-Vincent Colbert provides subtle, esoteric folk music. There’s an intimacy in his art that comes through with each finger-picked note. He seems to have a delicacy in both his songwriting and his delivery. Even once the “big” sound comes in on tracks like the opener “Homesick,” it does so with a sweeping passion rather than a blast. The guitar work on tracks like “Broken Joy” is enough to melt the listener; Colbert’s romantic lyrics just take it to the next level. This is an album meant to relax and pull you out of your seat all at once.
James McKean and the Blueberry Moon – No Peace for the Wicked
-Maybe a bit more electric than many people think of as folk music, it’s definitely a sound that fits within the tradition. You’ll hear a little Gordon Lightfoot and maybe some Jeff Buckley in this recording, but it also emulates some of the great 60s production elements, too. It’s a wonderful, timeless album that you’ll have a hard time believing was actually recorded in the 21st century. One gets the sense that this would be a great festival band if not for the music itself, then for the hippies that follow the music. Turn on, tune in, and drop out with this one.
Jonas and Jane – Whispered
-As you might imagine from their name, Jonas and Jane are a male-female folk duo. The thing that I love about this recording is the really fantastic quality of the vocals. The guitar is great, but these two remind me of what I first heard in Mandolin Orange. The songs have a real sense of melody to them, but the harmonies and the steel guitar come together perfectly for a subtle and beautiful reality. There’s a layered harmonic quality to it that reminds me of what I always wish Jessica Lee Mayfield and her brother David Mayfield would do. There’s a genuineness to the recording that feels both like mountain music and down home comfort food; this is absolutely a hidden gem (and one of the few 2015 releases we’re still covering for a reason).
The Deer – Tempest and Rapture
-The Deer are “dreamy folk” according to both my notes and a fresh new listen. Remember that opening scene of that movie you like where there’s a bunch of hustle and bustle in a quaint little town, where you just felt like you wanted to be there walking down that street in that town even though you didn’t know there was a war raging on or people who would be totally disgusting or scary or mean? It’s like that. I mean it’s cacophony and desirable, it’s textured and gritty, but you just can’t look away from the accident. Maybe it’s a happy accident. But the Deer make music that waxes and wanes from challenging noise to melodic, peaceful pieces that could be in a musical. There are glowing guitars sometimes, and theatrical vocals at other times. In short, this is an album of experience and, potentially, a cult classic like the Wizard of Oz or the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Are you a fan? Give them a spin. I can’t tell you to like them, but I can beg that you try.