The Cork Board, World Music

I am not a folk fan

I’m not really a traditional folk music fan. The time worn image of a beardy bloke jamming a finger in his ear and singing about his black dog never appealed. I sometimes go along to folk clubs to play, because that’s where acoustic guitarists can sometimes be found, but I can’t singalong to “Wild Rover” . It’s just not me. It’s just too cosy (and I know real folk fans will have a go at this perception, but, if it isn’t, show me, I am interested).  As a consequence, if you were to draw a Venn diagram, with “Folk Music” in the centre, I would generally be missing out on the over-lapping extraneous circles, too.

I’m aware of the “stars” but still don’t seek them out much. There, a confession from a music nut. You just can’t listen to everything.

… Karine Polwart …

I have been prompted, twice, in as many days, however, to seek out Karine Polwart’s new album, her fifth, “Traces”. I was aware of her standing in folk worlds but I’ve already said that I’m not really in the loop.




As usual, Wikipedia has it all about Karine so I’m not going to reiterate that here, except to say that on first listening “Traces” is superb.

There is a uniqueness about Karine’s music that makes you sit up and listen. There’s some exploration going on. The subject matter is broad – love and loss, life, politics and current affairs – all on one album. Her lyrics are perceptive and striking.

I would write a more detailed review but somehow feel that, as Jerry would say, the music should speak for itself, and in this case, certainly does itself more justice than I could with a wordy interpretation.

Watch this and do your own investigations. It’s well worth it.

8 thoughts on “I am not a folk fan”

  1. I almost came to blows with ,my older brother in the ’70’s by his constant replay of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span on the Dansette (a strange combination) As time has turned my hair grey and having attended such events as the Hardraw Gathering with the “crusties” of North Yorkshire I have begun to warm to “folk” in the more tradional “English” sense of the word and have even, dare I say, attended a Kate Rusby gig. I’ll check this out Al. Thanks.

  2. What a lovely voice and all around sound. Thanks for sharing.

    I rarely say I like folk music, I’ll say old-fashioned, classic or outsider country, but not everyone gets what that means or cares. I might say bluegrass and watch some people’s noses turn up. Fact is I like music that sounds old or a bit frayed around the edges, rustic but beautiful. Mostly when I find it it, it’s mixed up on albums with harder cuts of rock or country, and I like those, too.

    The song you shared reminds me of Kathleen Edwards a bit. (Country.)

    Here’s ‘Pink Emerson Radio’ by her. (Cuts abruptly at the end, and isn’t really a video — just the album jacket.) It’s okay if you hate it, but I wanted to share because I thought of it and the first time I really listened to it. Hadn’t read the lyric sheet so it hit me like a slap. I’m into lyrics, too.

    1. I love your expressions of “outsider country” and “music frayed around the edges” . I get it – and agree. I love Alejandro Escovedo and I’ve seen his music described as country (?). Maybe it’s because he lives in Texas ?! But it’s definitely “outsider” . I think the fraying gives traditional music an edge.
      And I loved the Kathleen Edwards track and I’ll pull her out on Spotify and get listening. Thanks Ré. Always a pleasure to share ideas. 🙂

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