Ten Exciting New Albums for Fans of Folk and Americana Music in 2016
These types of run down or list articles are fun for some and annoying to others. We are getting an impressive volume of submissions lately, so it’s tough to keep up. All of these gems came physically to our doorstep and we’re so glad to have the plastic to spin for years to come. That said, for each on this list there are several that didn’t make the cut. We hope you enjoy these gems among a really great batch of albums sent our way.
Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest Life
-This is a superb album and probably deserves its own full review. Courtney Marie Andrews is a phenomenal songwriter who is steeped in the Seattle folk scene. Her influences include some of our favorites from the Gundersen family. That said, her unique inflections are all her own. There’s a lyrical depth on this album that packs a powerful punch, supported by layered musical complexity that is rarely found in ordinary hipster folk. In short, I believe every damn word that she sings. “Table for One” is one of the most intriguing songs I’ve heard in a long time and it’s a real folk singer’s tune.
Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur – Penny’s Farm
-Sometimes folk music just has to come from someone who sounds like they’ve lived a bit of life. That’s what you’ll hear from Kweskin and Muldaur. It’s a seasoned, respectable music. There’s guitar and fiddle that sound just delightful, but more importantly some high lonesome vocals that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Since I can trace my heritage to the hills, I find much to love on this collection. If you enjoy the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and that style old timey Americana, this album is for you.
The Western Flyers – Wild Blue Yonder
-This is the quintessential western swing album. If you’re a fan of the Riders in the Sky made famous on the Toy Story soundtrack, then you’ll love this album. There’s a raucous fiddle and plenty of stunning guitar playing. Heck, even the stand up bass will make your jaw hit the floor. Speaking of, this is an impossible album to hear without wanting to get out on the dancefloor to scuff up your fancy cowboy boots. It’s a nice mix of familiar tunes and some less familiar but still fun and enjoyable. Put it on at the barn dance and have some fun with your pards.
Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer – Off-Grid Lo-Fi
-As you might imagine from an album titled Off-Grid Lo-Fi, it’s a minimalist folk album that will captivate you. I find myself sitting up in my seat, listening ever more intently to the intriguing sounds. McGraw and Fer seem to have a really interesting chemistry that results in an album that is both intimate and totally fresh. It reminds me of a bit of the Gillian Welch and David Rawlings combination, but also a lesser-known band called Cicada Rhythm. It’s that sort of raw, authentic folk music that motivates us to run this blog. This album is truly a gem for folk fans.
Harp and a Monkey – War Stories
-This album tells several stories with a fantastic ethos. The band seems to really believe every lyric that they deliver. It puts you into the mind of someone living in the era of the first world war in Europe. The music is essentially a fulfilling brand of folk music, with rich textures on strings and vocals. This is an album sure to generate fans from a wide range of influences and if you love history you really need to hear it.
Western Centuries – Weight of the World
-This is a God’s honest country music album. That is, of course, a stolen lyric from the first song on the album. But have covered Cahalen Morrison, one of the artists on the album, so we’re not surprised to hear how good this is. If you’re looking for an uptempo country music style that sounds like it could have come out of the 70s, this is definitely for you. The opener “Weight of the World” is probably the best track. Some of the other songs seem to have a different lead vocal, but the tunes are still rich.
The Lowest Pair – 2 albums – Uncertain as it is uneven and Fern girl and Ice Man
-Any time a band can release an album a year, I am impressed. So when this band put out two albums in 2016, I was skeptical about the quality. But these are both wonderfully genuine Americana albums. They have a tenderness and joy about them that you’ll find intriguing. The combination of haunting vocals, chill acoustic guitar, and crisp banjo picking all make for a delightful Americana sound. If you only have time for one on Uncertain, go with “Lonesome Sunrise.” As for Fern Girl, the opener “The River Will” shows you right away that they’ve had some phenomenal growth. Think Nickel Creek’s “Sweet Afton” for a good indication of their general sound.
Coty Hogue – Flight
-Aside from just loving the album art, Coty Hogue’s acoustic singer songwriter vibe is really calming. There’s an intimacy to it that you just rarely hear these days. It feels like an album that is in no hurry to tell it’s story, happier to move along slowly and tenderly. Maybe it says something about the reviewer as much as the album, but I was immediately drawn to the style on “Lullaby.” The vocal rolls with a genuineness that will make you think of loved ones who sang to you once upon a time. It’s an uncomplicated and deeply fulfilling album.
Cris Jacobs – Dust to Gold
-Cris Jacobs has a haunting singer songwriter style. His guitar and vocals are both really crisp. He writes with a bluesy edge that’s sure to fire up many Americana fans. He’s a Baltimore-based songwriter that seems like he’s seen some of the street. It’s a kind of salt of the earth rock music that will have you coming back for more.
Thomas Charlie Pedersen – Second Hand War
-Okay so I want you to think of the boys of Liverpool in their early days (the Beatles, for those of you who missed the cue)… now put them in Denmark instead of England. That’s what Thomas Charlie Pedersen sounds like. I find his sound to be so addictive and endearing, I simply had to put him on this list. The chord progressions on the opening track “High Dust Devils” were enough to win me for the album. The guitar work on this album is enough to make me a fan. I’d love to hear Pedersen sit in with some other European folk musicians to form a group.