Folky Songstresses

I'm using the term "folky" somewhat liberally here, but I didn't know how else to group this contingent of amazing female artists whose siren songs have been dominating my music listening as of late.

Here's a Spotify* playlist with some sample tracks or order their albums to be sent to your local library if you're interested in full listen.

Laura Marling - Marling came out of the same West London folk scene as Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, and Johnny Flynn and at the shocking age of 21 has twice been nominated for the UK's Mercury Prize. With her release of last month's A Creature I Don't Know, she continues to experiment with her sounds and accompaniments, but continues to write lyrics that betray her age by sounding much older and wiser than most artists her age.

Laura Gibson - Gibson's vocals walk the precarious edge of almost disappearing which gives her music a haunting and fragile quality. Consisting of mostly plucked guitars, she adds musical saws, violins, and brushed guitars at just the right moments. Opening for Damien Jurado a few years a back, I watched her bring a crowded bar to near silence with her hushed songs. It was quite an achievement and speaks to the quiet power of her music.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Like Marling, Mayfield writes music well beyond her age of 22. Her songs are mainly dark and country-tinged, but her latest, Tell Me, plays around with drum machines and synths with mixed results. As she shares stages with the likes of Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers I'm sure her notoriety and fanbase will continue to grow.

Laura Veirs - Probably the least folky of the bunch, Veirs plays with a bit more spunk. Using short, accentuated syllables, her voice tends to bounce around with matching notes.  I look forward to her upcoming release of Tumble Bee a collection of children's songs (which could've been included in this post) which includes a build-it-yourself mini mobile. Quite the showcase of multiple creative outlets.

Marissa Nadler - Dreamy and hazy seem pretty accurate to describe most of Nadler's music although lately she's been playing with a fuller band. The fact that she sings about ghosts and death only enhances the eerie feelings.

Mountain Man - Mountain Man is not a man, but ironically three women. At least the mountain piece of their name seems appropriate as they harmonize over simple guitars harkening images of rural Appalachia or an Ozark hollow. They released their debut album, Made in the Harbor, last summer.

Jolie Holland - While Holland's music spans jazz, blues, folk and country, her drawling, warbling vocals are constant. Her latest album, Pint of Blood, is one of her best.

Here's a Spotify* playlist with some sample tracks or order their albums to be sent to your local library for a full listen.

(*Spotify is a legal online streaming music service recently launched in the U.S. You need an account to access the playlist.)

Written by Bobby on October 26, 2011

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