Folkin amazing! A new guide to aussie folk artists6 months ago
I’ve never been much of a listener to folk music; in fact, I think my knowledge about the folk industry is so deprived that I couldn’t tell you about one individual or band who has made it in the international (or domestic) folk scene.
My first port of call was straight to Google. I started with the very creative search, “Folk music in Australia”, I then proceeded to read the Wikipedia article - no matter how much my teachers at school would disapprove. It was long, and suffice to say, I can now give you an entire recount of the history of Australian Folk music dating back to convict era. But no need to worry … I won’t!
Instead of powering through the Wiki page, I popped over to a few more websites… I went to Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube, iTunes top rated folk music, other blogs, Bandcamp etc… Despite my listening to fantastic folk artists from all sorts of different generations, I have compiled artists who have emerged in the 21st Century that are either are on the up and up or … deserve to be. These top artists managed to make my highly inexperienced cut because straight off the bat they caught my attention. I enjoyed the lyrics, the tune and the people themselves. So, down below, I’ve listed 5 artists who in my mind are great introductions to Australia’s incredible folk music.
(If you’re anything like me you might find that at the end of this blog you are adding some more songs to your playlists.)
First up - and in no particular order - Julia Jacklin from the Blue Mountains. She is beautifully honest in her lyrics, and the melody and calmness in her tone possess this dreamy quality. My head couldn’t help but sway. Julia is widely known in the folk community having already toured the world with her 2016 album Don’t Let the Kids Win and been nominated for APRA Australian Song of the Year and Album of the Year at the Triple J awards. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about her!
After having listened to some of her older music, and her newer music… I have a personal favourite, ‘Eastwick’. There is no doubt about it, in all of her songs she showcases her superb vocals and guitar skills. Julia has just released a new song called ‘Body’ and no doubt it will be on display at the Woodford Folk Festival coming up! Julia is performing in Woodford at the festival from the 27th of December to the 1st of January 2019 and later on next year in March when she visits Adelaide!
Julia Jacklin "Body"
Next up, Courtney Barnett. Courtney just released a new song called ‘Small Talk’ and even though I wouldn’t usually listen to songs like this… I loved it! It is hard to describe how down-to-earth and normal her lyrics made me feel. On top of all of that, Courtney just sounds like a cool person (I’m not sure how to describe what constitutes a cool person… but, if you listen to her, you’ll see what I mean). She has this amazing ability in her voice to transport you (I think...) to a small bar, lit with warm, yellow tones and furnished with big comfortable chairs in winter. Courtney is currently on a world tour, and she is coming to Australia in late November and December visiting Queenscliff Music Festival, Fairgrounds in Berry, and the Laneway festivals in Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and more for performances !!
Courtney has released other albums, most recently, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ and a bit further back ‘I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris’. She grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and later in Hobart, Tasmania. She’s got this great vibe going when she plays her guitar - go and watch some of her live performances on YouTube if you have the time, they are sensational. I cannot get enough of her songs ‘Pickles in a Jar’ and ‘Avant Gardener’. They both possess subtle injections of humour - I love that!
Courtney Barnett, Milk Records Melbourne, “Small Talk”
Mel Taylor surprised me. When I came across Mel, I was 5 hours into intense research into the folk industry, trying my best to refine a list 30ish artists and just shy of a hundred songs into 5! At this stage, I was not willing to add another artist to my list…. But…. Mel’s song ‘Time’ caught my attention. It had a warmth that reminded me of curling up next to a warm fire. She was strumming her guitar and singing an infectious tune that is still “playing on my mind” (hehe - those are lyrics in the song).
Mel is not just Mel…. a band of like-minded musicians often accompanies her, they perform as ‘Mel Taylor and the Sunchasers. You have got to listen to her music - for me. It bridges the gap between contemplation and music. She currently had four songs listed on her meltaylor.bandcamp.com page but I think we will hear lots more from her band, they play gigs all around Melbourne including their recent live gigs at the CERES organic market, and the ‘40's A Decade of Variety’ show at the MBCTA theatre. I really hope they’ll travel up north soon!
Mel Taylor "Time
Next up…. Monique Clare. Monique is fantastic! She combines impressive cello skills with quirky folk style lyrics and tune. She was labelled as the 2017 Folk Alliance Australia young Artist of the year -- SENSATIONAL! There isn’t much I can say or do that will make you fall in love with her music as much as I feel I will. Her fantastic website will show you how brilliant her work her website:
She has a new EP out, “By the Stars”, which is filled with songs that transported me to the ballrooms of Pride and Prejudice because her soft tone and classic accompaniments connect a regal but comfortable vibe. Monique has also just announced that she is going on a national tour with a fellow artist, Caleb Colledge, they are touring in December, coming to Brisbane (14th Dec), Armidale (15th), Kempsey (16th), Jervis Bay (18th), Blue Mountains (19th), Newcastle (20th) and finally, Old Bar (21st)! Um Yes! Sign me up.
Monique Clare, “Crazy in love” @ Woodford Folk festival
Finally, to cap off my list, I am getting serious Norah Jones vibes from Ellen Kibble, a folk artist who has been around since 2011. I saw Ellen Kibble’s name on one of the websites that I had visited, and then I followed up with some serious YouTube searching and came across her live performances. I don’t know what struck me more… her incredible ability to own the stage, or her brutally honest lyrics which took my folk journey to a different level. Ellen is from Melbourne, and in 2011 she released ‘Southern Single’ and then in 2012 the ‘EP Turncoat’.
I found her on her ellenkibble.bandcamp.com page. Folk music is proving to be very reflective, all of Ellen’s songs that I’ve listened to have been quite remarkable in finding things for me to think about. Her song ‘Treehaus’ is worth a listen and her track ‘Sawdust’ gave me ‘daisy chain’ romance vibes.
Ellen Kibble, “Treehaus” Live
What I’ve come across in writing Blog #2, is a basket full of talented musicians but above all, incredible story-tellers. I’m not going to lie; there were ups and downs. Some folk music is definitely not suited to me - either it is too slow, or to out there, but there are so many artists out there that need you to spend an afternoon exploring - both young and old!! But for me, the tally is at:
2 blogs down.
1 genre covered.
SO MANY new songs listened to.
5 artists written about.
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