New Folk Music in the UK

April 15, 2013
The UK has recently undergone a massive resurgence in the folk music scene. Whilst there are arguably plenty of people who will say it never left, there is no doubting the popularity of artists like Mumford & Sons and Ben Howard. But the popularity isn’t surprising in a time when the country is suffering from an over-indulgence of commercial excess.
Many people crave a simpler time and songs like Keep Your Head Up (Ben Howard) and I Will Wait (Mumford & Sons) are handing it to them on a plate. The former literally telling you to cheer up, the latter helping you do just that with a robust, charming beat. Perhaps more importantly, they’re giving people a sense of discovery, the artists are rising slowly with sleeper hits and you feel as if they may have been produced in your brother’s mate’s garage and you knew about them before anyone else and that makes you (and them) extremely cool. You feel the urge to dash out and buy a long, floaty dress and a big floppy hat and listen to the music on your iPod whilst dancing freely in the sunshine, pretending you’re at Woodstock 1969. It’s all very earthy and pleasant (apart from the fact that you’re in the UK so it won’t be sunny, which shatters the illusion). But this is where they still win. Faced with the doom and gloom, grey skies and grey economy we turn to Ben and Keep Our Heads Up. Very British.
But the interesting, and certainly important result of this new enthusiasm for folk musicians (and therefore anyone who can write/carry a tune with a guitar in tow) is a willingness to listen to the underdog. Lewis Watson is one such winner in this situation ( ) His new EP Into The Wild is beautiful, brilliant and simple. Gliding along inoffensively, pausing your hectic life momentarily, you’re peaceful for the duration of the song. His tentative tones reassure you that he believes in his quest for freedom. Another example is James Rousseau ( @Rousseau_Music ) a former model, James now writes music because it makes him happy. He grew up in rural England surrounded by fields, hay barns and sheep and whilst I’m not suggesting he’s disillusioned with city living, he returned to the fields for the video for In Good Company. Also worth a listen is My Beautiful Fiasco .
Riding on the wave of their popularity the new ‘folks’ are to be found appearing at UK festivals left, right and centre and the wave is taking them across the pond to the US. Ben Howard performed on stage today at Coachella and whilst the US have their own groups such as The Lumineers, it seems they too are keen to welcome our happy chaps and their inspiring melodies.
The sun was shining at Coachella today and a man with a guitar took people away to a simpler time, even just for a short while, but I have no doubt that this is a music trend that will run and run.
-Lucy J

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