The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #111884 Message #2371240
Posted By: Colin Randall
21-Jun-08 - 01:45 AM
Thread Name: Celebrate 'Folk'
Subject: RE: Celebrate 'Folk'
...and this is the sidebar
Although the pint-sized Yorkshirewoman sings folk music "for people who don't like folk", her repertoire draws heavily on traditional British balladry, and her own songs sound as if they might have been written hundreds of years ago. On stage, the girlish delivery and homely patter appeal to many, but infuriate some. Awkward Annie, the most recent album, captures Rusby nearly at her best, though I retain a soft spot for her 1995 debut as part of an enchanting duo (Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts).
How do you make an accordion an instrument of joy? Place it in the hands of someone like Sharon Shannon, a farmer's daughter from the west of Ireland who plays like a dream, with as much invention and flair as I have encountered in any musician, and smiles warmly as she does so. Shannon also commands a respect among fellow musicians that crosses boundaries of style and nationality. The Galway Girl: the Best of Sharon Shannon, just received, is a stunning compilation with walk-on parts for Jackson Browne, Steve Earle and, on a gorgeous version of Astor Piazzolla's Libertango, the late Kirsty MacColl.
A passionately anti-Zionist London Jew, Rosselson writes about politics, from assorted left-wing causes to support for the Palestinians, and also about people and relationships. He cannot sing for toffee, and is doubtless heartily sick of me saying so, and has a way of getting up people's noses. But I would not be without the sharp, funny, challenging and beautifully crafted songs he has been creating for 40 years. Some of the better ones, including his powerful account of the massacre of Deir Yassin, appear on Turning Silence Into Song. And that voice somehow fits the songs like a glove.
One of the brainiest women in folk, Polwart has packed a lot into her thirtysomething years. She has a first in philosophy and a Masters in philosophical inquiry, taught primary schoolchildren and worked in domestic and child abuse. After acclaimed spells with Malinky and the Battlefield Band, she burst free to reinvent herself as an award-winning songwriter. Her solo albums are not remotely easily listening, but get better on each hearing. Scribbled in Chalk and This Earthly Spell prove the point.
Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span
Take your pick between the giants or, according to taste, dinosaurs of folk-rock. Steeleye preferred the tag "English electric folk" but for most listeners, the format is the same: folk with a rock band's rhythm and punch. Both relied disproportionately in their heydays on strong female voices, Maddy Prior in Steeleye and the late Sandy Denny in Fairport. Long Lankin, from Steeleye's Spanning the Years, has an absent nobleman, gruesome murders and summary executions to go with the glorious melody and arrangement, while Fairport will never improve on Liege and Lief, from 1969. Folk-rock's most influential album, digitally remastered and reissued last year, remains a masterpiece.
Some graduates of the 1960s American folk boom – notably Dylan, Baez, and, on the pop-folk margins, Peter, Paul and Mary – need no introduction to mainstream listeners. The more adventurous may find it rewarding to explore the work of Woody Guthrie, who was singing out for the downtrodden and dispossessed long before the others knew of their existence. The repertoire is as vast as it is political, and most people have probably heard at least one version of his signature song, This Land Is Your Land, but I rather took to a late 1980s restoration of his Columbia River Collection, a set of classics prosaically commissioned by power authorities to mark the Bonneville and Grand Coulee Dam-building projects half a century earlier.