Proselytes of a freak-Folk anti-movement have sprung like mushrooms since the turn of the millennium. They bring a welcome and long overdue return of bare-arsed loopiness in what we still call popular music. Whatever one's views on Devendra Banhart one cannot deny the joyful nonsense that he sprayed around in every direction. Hippy ridiculousness, or optimism if you must, has always been hilarious when watched from the sidelines and I have enjoyed myself mightily as this new form of expression wafted, like a summer breeze of pixie love-spore, over the popular mind.
Folk is, of course, a four letter word, and in England it gives rise to a deep seated pavlovian response, gushing unstoppably from our most primitive wellspring of national identity, guarded at a secret location somewhere in Devon. Once tickled with the Folking-stick it can only be a matter of time before any Englischer finds a finger, hopefully their own, buried in their right ear.
But something miraculous appears to be underway. A plucky young tribe of musicians are daring to hoist the musty flagon of Folk to their mouths while retaining their personal vision and sense of muscial adventure. Both Scratchy and I are big fans of Johnny Flynn and I am waiting very impatiently for Rough Trade to source my copy of his new album. In the meantime I have struck upon a couple of albums that, without doubt, bear evidence of something heartfelt, fun, fragile and, in one case perhaps, not quite finished.
Ellis Island Sound, The Good Seed. A truly beautiful and atmospheric record, brimming with a soft melancholy and the briny breeze of the east coast flat-lands.
Virgin Passages, Distance. I may be wrong, but this feels more than a touch acid-drenched. Shambolic? Perhaps. Brief? Definitely! But utterly compelling.