What the Folk?

Don’t look up ‘folk’ on Wikipedia. You will only get confused. Trust me.

Like ‘love’, ‘democracy’ and ‘Music TeleVision’ it’s a term that has kind of outgrown its original meaning. Germans will tell you it means people, Americans will tell you it means Woodie Guthrie, but you, dear Internet, must know that really it’s nothing more than six strings and a head full of poetry.

I don’t want to impose on any folkfans out there who already have their own ideas about folk, nor do I want to preach to the non-believers who are starting to wish they’d just looked it up on Wikipedia in the first place. I’ve made this blog–and I’ve started this post–so that I can tear a gargantuan hole in the starboard side of your music taste with the tip of a nice big folk iceberg. And even if that doesn’t happen, at least you’ll have something to listen to when you sleep.

Enough romanticising, let us begin Modern Folk 101. In our last lecture, we discussed Josh Ritter. Today we move onto the lovely Laura Marling, a 20 year-old from Hampshire who is harder and harder to get away from these days, not just, it seems, because she has a voice like a wine glass full of caramel, but because she’s gorgeous and I could sit and stare at her latest album cover for hours and hours and hours. Until I figure out how to embed songs onto the blog (HTM’elp me!) you’ll forgive me if I just set you up with a link to Ms Marling’s music.

This is off her new-ish album. If you’re not English and have never had the opportunity to be, listen carefully to the way Laura sings about the silly little island at the end of each verse. She captures that genuine spark of pride that flares up in the hearts of English people a few times a year, when they forget briefly about the BNP and Iraq and being rubbish at sport. It’s a lonely little flash, and it never lasts more than a few seconds, but in that minute ignition the place doesn’t actually seem half bad.

And then you remember it’s a country that qualifies this as front page news and you buy a house in the South of France.

That concludes my first folk recommendation. I look forward to embarking on this long and rewarding journey together, Dear Internet, and hope you remembered to bring along a sturdy pair of shoes and a bottomless knapsack.

You can throw away the map, though. I’m hoping to get a little lost.


May 2010

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