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.


WOMEN IN MUSIC: the best albums of the year so far

This year I thought that the best way I had in this blog to celebrate the Women’s Day was to highlight and collect together the best records among those we could enjoy in 2019 which exist thanks to the talent and creativity of women.

I’ve selected nine albums which span from jazz to metal, passing through hip-hop, folk and rock. It can be an opportunity to listen to something new and maybe widen our musical horizons. Enjoy!

Julia Jacklin

The Australian singer-songwriter has released in late February 2019 her second LP, Crushing, which is filled with emotions and played with passion and elegance.


Rigmor Elisabeth Gustafsson

The Swedish Jazz singer has published this year the ninth album in her own name, and it’s another brilliant entry within an impressive career.


Clementine Creevy

The American singer and guitarist is the undisputed leader of rock band Cherry Glazer. The band has released this year an exciting new LP that you’ll start enjoying since the very first listenings


Cæcilie Norby

For her latest release, the acclaimed Danish Jazz singer has called for the support of an ensemble of all female musicians from several countries and generations


Yugen Blakrok

The South African rapper has released in 2019 one of the best albums in the category of electronic musc. Her LP is absolutely enjoyable to hear, even if you’re not a passionate fan of hip-hop.


Anette Uvaas Gulbrandsen

The Norwegian fascinating singer is one of the leaders of American doom metal band The Sabbathian, which arrived this year to their impressive debut LP.


Claire Hastings

The Scottish singer and songwriter has released her second LP, and we may enjoy once again the talent of one of the most promising figures of contemporary folk.


Phoebe Lou

The Australian singer and musician is one of the two founding members of electronic project Two People. Their debut LP is the perfect balance between intimacy, elegance, and obscurity .


Juliana Hatfield

The American singer-songwriter has accumulated a huge number of different musical experiences throughout her intense career. Her new LP oscillates between a sparkling and catchy rock and roll and a mainstream-oriented indie pop.


ANGELS OF FOLK (a Mixtape with the most beautiful voices of Contemporary Folk)

Enjoy this precious selection of the best folk songs released in the last couple of years, featuring the most beautiful voices we could enjoy in recent times. Eleven songs, for 40 minutes of uninterrupted musical poetry.



The tracklist includes songs from Adrianne Lenker, Claire Hastings, Emilie Mover, Heater Taylor, Joan Baez, Karine Polwart, Marissa Nadler, Michelle Mandico, Olivia Chaney, Rosie Carney, and Sarah McQuaid.



If you liked the mixtape, you could also enjoy the playlist Modern Songwriters, which collects the latest and best songs from contemporary songwriters.


Quick Review: “Those Who Roam”, by Claire Hastings

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 Claire 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 music of Those Who Roam represents a gentle and serene version of folk, as evidenced by the fact that most of the songs bring with them a cheerful and positive spirit, while only a couple of songs are touched by shadows and melancholy. The LP is nice to hear and it higlights the good work that was done by all the musicians that were called to support: Jenn Butterworth on guitar, Laura Wilkie on fiddle, Thomas Gibbs on piano and Andrew Waite on accordion.

The element that stands out the most in this record, however, remains the beautiful voice of the singer, and this is perhaps also the limit of the album. Basically all the songs of Those Who Roam are nice and graceful, but some of them, in the end, don’t manage to really touch the depths of your soul.

My overall rating for the album is 6/10. 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.

My favorite songs are the opening track The Lothian Hairst, King of California and Seven Gypsies.


Claire Hastings’s new album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.


The Lothian Hairst, from Claire Hastings’ new LP, is now featured in MELANCHOLIC FOLK. Check it out.