Where the buffalo roam

The dissection of folk's resurgence

At some point in the last few years, the music world decided it best to take a deep breath and spend some much needed time in thoughtful meditation. Case in point, the movement of quiet yet poignant folk artists who have quietly kneaded themselves small deer-like beds in the pastures of today’s music scene. If 80’s hair metal said, “excess over progress,” and “hide it behind the hair”, and 90’s grunge said even if begrudgingly, “it’s ok to be depressed, but keep your feelings to your flannelled self,” then today’s folk music scene says, “Sit and listen to what I have created. You don’t have to dress funny, act outrageously, and be overly depressed or angry. All you have to do is listen as you are.” What a relief.

Recent standout folk releases include Iron and Wine’s beautifully crafted The Shepard’s Dog, Fleet Foxes’ spiritually uplifting self-titled release and Bon Iver’s hushed and rustic For Emma, Forever Ago. Each of these releases features masterful and tasteful musicianship and simply honest songwriting. In the case of Iron and Wine and the Fleet Foxes, you will find skilled multi-instrumentalists who succeed in brushing each track with just enough color. Bon Iver relies more heavily on simple songwriting and instrumentation packed to the gill with uncompromising emotion.

These artists use motifs and themes to tie songs together, and paint vivid pictures in their story telling. This music is engaging not because it is loud and brash, or because it’s the cool thing. This music is simple, honest and relatable. The instrumentation allows listeners to uncover new elements on each listen, and eloquent production keeps the layers from mudding up the sound.



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