WALKING IN THE RAIN (Mixtape)

Enjoy this mixtape with some of the best and most melancholic folk songs released so far in 2019. I tried to compose the ideal soundtrack for a walk in the rain, at sunset. Eight songs, thirty minutes of musical beauty and delicacy.




If you liked this mixtape, I recommend to have a look to THE BEST FOLK OF 2019 and to follow the playlist THE INDIE FOLK RADAR.


THE BEST FOLK OF 2019 (Episode 1)

Since the beginning of 2019, we could enjoy a good number of valid and interesting folk music albums and we are already able to point out which are the best records of the year (up to now). The first episode of this chart refers to the first quarter of 2019 and it features five different albums spanning from indie to traditional Scottish folk. Enjoy this article and stay tuned for future updates!



#5) “Tomb”, by Angelo De Augustine

Indie Folk

Sometimes you meet with artists, or records, that manage to transmit you strong emotions independently from the specific music they play. Tomb, which is the latest LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, represents one of these cases. The LP is third of a discography which includes his self-released debut album, 2011’s Spirals of Silence, and his previous 2017’s LP named Swim Inside the Moon.

Tomb develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. There are two ways to cope whit that: we give up or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before.

Listening to the music of Angelo De Augustine is like enjoying the recitation of a poem, and in this sense his work is actually in between these two different forms of art.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with additional details on the record and also a few videos to see.



#4) “Those Who Roam”, by Claire Hastings

Traditional Scottish Folk

The biography of young Scottish folksinger and songwriter Claire Hastings says that despite already at primary school her teachers noticed how good was her voice, she didn’t pursue music until she arrived at the University. In a few years, however, she managed to compensate for all the time lost and, impressively, she was named “BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year” even before releasing her debut album (Between River and Railway). This year Hastings has released her second LP, named Those Who Roam, and we may enjoy once again the talent of one of the most promising figures of contemporary folk.

The element that stands out the most in this record is for sure the beautiful voice of the singer, while the musical part is not always at the same level. Those Who Roam is like a nice walk in a flowery park, under the sun. A sun that, however, still can’t make you feel warm, it’s only a slight sensation that you have on the skin.

Those Who Roam is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with more information and a couple of songs to enjoy.



#3) “Ode to a Friend” by Old Sea Brigade

INDIE FOLK


After releasing a number of intriguing and appreciated short publications, American singer-songwriter Ben Cramer, who plays under the moniker of Old Sea Brigade, eventually released his debut full-length record, named Ode to a Friend. Despite arriving after four previous EPs, the songs of the new album are all unpublished and the new material shows the capacity that has been developed by Cramer – in just a few years – in defining a style that is quite unique and personal, moving with ease among folk, Americana and ambient soundscapes.

Ode to a Friend is an album that’s absolutely poetic and fascinating, something which has the capacity to take us away from the chaos, but which also requires extremely quiet environments in order to be fully appreciated. And if most of the tracks of the LP are still built on Cramer’s finger-picked guitar and echo effects, for the first time we enjoy in his songs also a wider palette of sounds which includes notes from a distant piano or gentle layers of synths.

Ode to a Friend is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with videos and other information.



#2) “Le Ceneri di Heliodoro”, by Rome

DARK FOLK

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is the latest release from Luxembourg’s folk master Jérôme Reuter, who operates under the name of Rome. This is the most recent entry in a very large discography which features more than 10 LPs and many other EPs, all of them devoted to telling fascinating stories which interconnect ancient wars with the struggles of modern times.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is an album that manages to be at the same time profound, conceptual but still absolutely enjoyable to listen to. From a musical point of view, the album doesn’t deviate substantially from the dark folk that has been offered in all the previous releases from Reuter, with the exception of an increased presence – in the new album – of “martial” elements. The LP starts with a sequence of impressive and absolutely brilliant songs, gifted by some of the most beautiful melodies we heard in recent times.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with videos and other details.



Best Folk Album of 2019 (so far)

“Crushing”, by Julia Jacklin

INDIE FOLK / INDIE POP

Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer and songwriter based in Sydney, and she has released in late February 2019 her second LP, Crushing, which follows her 2016’s impressive debut studio album, Don’t Let the Kids Win. Similarly to what happened on the occasion of her first record, the first thing which impresses of Crushing is the remarkable emotional intensity of the songs. These are reflections and flashes made by the artist on her life and her past experiences, translated into music with a naturalness and a sense of urgency and immediacy that cannot leave us indifferent.

From a musical point of view, the songs of Crushing stay right on the border that separates indie pop from folk. The instrumentation, in particular, is that typical of folk music: the tracks develop mainly on Julia’s voice and guitar, with a simple rhythmic session made by repeated notes of bass and slow beats on the drums. Rarely we hear a piano. The simplicity of the arrangement, however, is compensated by warm and beautiful sounds of all the instruments, which in the end enhance the sense of intimacy of the tracks.

Crushing is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. The album was included in this blog’s Best New Music category and here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with more information and also a couple of singles to enjoy.



All the best indie folk songs that were released since the beginning of the year are collected in the Playlist called The INDIE FOLK Radar, which features all the artists included in this chart bat also other remarkable songs from artists like Sun Kil Moon, Meat Puppets, Mandoline Orange, and many others. Listen to it and follow it: the playlist is periodically updated with new tracks.


The INDIE FOLK Radar (Episode #1/2019)

Indie folk is an extremely heterogeneous genre of music that embraces many different styles and arrangements, but which in general gives a lot of satisfactions. And if we look at the number of good records that have been published only in the first weeks of the year, we can really have great expectations for 2019.

I’m presenting in this article a selection of five albums that were published in the period which spans from the beginning of the year and the first week of February. This is not of course an exhaustive list of everything taht was released so far; the albums that I’m introducing in the following, however, may be easily considered the most relevant of the period of interest.

Let’s start with the first record, and remember to visit the blog periodically for the future updates of the folk music radar.



“Ode to a Friend”, by Old Sea Brigade


After releasing a number of intriguing and appreciated short publications, American singer-songwriter Ben Cramer, who plays under the moniker of Old Sea Brigade, eventually released his debut full-lenght record, named Ode to a Friend. Despite arriving after four previous EPs, the songs of the new album are all unpublished and the new material shows the capacity that has been developed by Cramer – in just a few years – in defining a style that is quite unique and personal, moving with ease among folk, Americana and ambient soundscapes.

The music in Ode to a Friend is extremely delicate and introspective, and there is a persistent note of sadness that impregnates most of the songs (the record tells of a friend of the artist who committed suicide). The result is a collection of pieces that maybe don’t have the brilliance and fluidity to become memorable songs, but still have the capacity to make us think, and dream.

My review of the LP is available here.



“Tomb”, by Angelo De Augustine


Tomb is the new LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, the third of his career, and it’s value goes beyond the mere analysis of the musical aspect. The album, in fact, develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. When this happens, there are two ways to reacto: we give up, or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before. This message is carried out through simple sketches of melodies, which make Tomb a delicate but also fragile work.

You can read here my review of the album.



“Better Oblivion Community Center”, by Better Oblivion Community Center


In recent years we have witnessed many interesting cases of couples of artists who decided to join artistically and produce folk music, one of the most recent and succesful cases was that of Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, but there are many other examples. Among the newest duos that have been formed we have the one composed by American indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers and American singer-songwriter Conor Oberst. The two have started a collaboration under the name of Better Oblivion Community Center, and released a self-titled album in late January 2019.

The album is quite interesting especially for the fact that the style of music varies a lot from song to song: there are melodic acoustic ballads, reaatively experimental pieces with electronic inserts, intimate songs alongside rock-oriented tunes. The same characteristic, from another point of view, may be seen also as one of the limits of this work, which in the end doesn’t show a well-established and recognizable style. It’s as if the two artists haven’t yet got that musical alchemy for which the blending of the individual styles and backgrounds produces something new, and different from the simple sum of the two parts.

For sure there is so much potential in this duo. Ideally in their future works the music will be more homogeneous and original than today.



“Goes West”, by William Tyler


Among the less acclaimed but still interesting publications of the last few weeks I can certainly includethe new solo album by William Tyler, a talented guitarist who’s playing indie folk since he was very young. In 2010 he stared a solo career and since then he’s publishing LPs with impressive regularity: one new album every three years. The last one, named Goes West, offers a collection of gentle and easy listening instrumental tunes.

William Tyler’s style of music has definitely become softer when compared to his early albums, and the acoustic guitar today has almost completely replaced the electric one. Tyler’s melodies are extremely light and simple, and they somehow struggle to sustain 40 minutes of completely instrumental music. However, some of the songs of the LP are still catchy and enjoyable to listen to. The first track of the album, Alpine Star, is definitely one of the best of the record.



“Tides of a Teardrop”, by Mandolin Orange


Many times we get excited for complex, deep and articulated records, but there are moments when we need something simpler and more direct. These are the cases where albums like Tides of a Teardrop seem to be made on purpose.

The new album by American folk duo Mandolin Orange shines for the magical kind of beauty that’s generated by the combination of guitar with mandolin, which are the two main components of the band’s sound, on top of which the gentle voices of Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin tell of simple but intimate stories.

From a musical point of view, the songs of the LP move with ease among the typical styles of American traditional music, from appalachian folk to country, but always maintaning an appreciable delicacy of sound and an enjoyable lightness of the arrangements. In all the songs you can also feel how strong is the harmony reached by Marlin and Frantz, something which tells us of years and years of playing together, and sharing the same passion for folk music. The two artists play and sing as they were one, and this is the secret which allows the songs of Tides of a Teardrop to stay simple, but beautiful.



Enjoy the best indie folk songs that were released since the beginning of 2019 in the playlist The INDIE FOLK Radar:


Quick Review: “Tomb” by Angelo De Augustine

Sometimes you meet with artists, or records, that manage to transmit you strong emotions independently from the specific music they play. Tomb, which is the latest LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, represents one of these cases. The LP is third of a discography which includes his self-released debut album, 2011’s Spirals of Silence, and his previous 2017’s LP named Swim Inside the Moon.

Tomb develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. There are two ways to cope whit that: we give up or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before.

Throughout our lives we bury many dead things in our hearts and minds. There they go to rest and hopefully are reborn as something beautiful for the world to behold.

A. De Augustine, from his webpage

This album is, at its core, a prayer for hope and clarity, and a prayer for love

A. De Augustine, from Tomb’s Bandcamp page

It’s easy to guess that this subject is deeply related to the artist’s personal life. As he explains in his website, as a teenager De Augustine dreamed of being a professional soccer player and even reached the international circuit before being derailed by an injury that left him unable to play. Soon after, a friend of the family gifted him a guitar and his dedication to soccer was replaced with singing and songwriting.


Tomb reflects a beginning for Angelo — both emotionally and in his career. It’s a motion towards positivity, addressing lost love, the worthwhile cost of honesty, and the ramifications of regret. In the end, Tomb isn’t about burying or hiding something away, it’s about opening the seal and letting something new emerge. It’s about telling people how you feel when you feel it, instead of burying everything over the span of years. Like the best heartbreak albums, Tomb transforms inward pain into universal beauty. The songs have helped him to heal and now they can help those who hear them.

An excerpt from the album’s Bandcamp page

The songs of the album are built on simple, I would say “basic”, sketches of melodies, played by Augustine on the guitar or the piano, on top of which we have gentle layers of synths and his ethereal voice. Rarely, we hear some simple beats in the background. Such an essential arrangement certainly gives intimacy and lightness to the songs, but at the same time makes the music of the album extremely fragile. We really need to be in a condition of absolute tranquility, and silence, to enjoy the songs of Tomb. Otherwise, all the delicacy and the intimacy of this music are destined to succumb under the chaos that surrounds us.


Listening to the music of Angelo De Augustine is like enjoying the recitation of a poem, and in this sense his work is actually in between these two different forms of art. However, I’ve personally experienced how these lyrics tend to slip away into the background noise as I gave up some of my attention from the music.

Musically speaking, my overall rating for the LP is 6/10. But as I said at the beginning of the review, there are things that cannot be measured with numbers. And the universal message that’s carried by this work goes beyond a simple collection of short songs.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.

My favorite songs are You Needed Love, I Needed You and the title track Tomb.

An alternate version of “You Needed Love, I Needed You”, played with Sufjan Stevens on the piano


Angelo De Augustine is featured in MODERN SONGWRITERS, the playlist I’m curating on Spotify with all the best and latest songs from contemporary songwriters.