The Modern Women of Folk

Folk music has seen a revolution in its ranks in recent years, led by the new generation of female folk musicians. Whereas it’s true that audiences have flocked to listen to the rousing sounds of bands like The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, it’s the gentler, more lyrical music of modern women artists that’s caught our eye this time. The term ‘folk music’ covers a broad spectrum of different styles, methods and artists, many of which are covered here in new and exciting ways.

Modern Woman Artist

Flo Morrissey

Londoner Flo Morrissey grew up as one of nine children but that didn’t stop her from shining bright at a young age. She first began making music when she was 14 and went on to start touring at the age of 20, opening for singing sisters The Staves and playing at Glastonbury Festival 2015. Her ethereal voice and otherworldly musical style combine to make a totally unique sound, captured beautifully on her debut solo album, Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful. Since its release, Morrissey has married poet, artist and musician Benjamin Clementine and the two welcomed their first child together on Christmas Day last year – coincidentally, also Morrissey’s twenty-third birthday. It seems incredible that she has achieved so much so young, but the starlet clearly has much more to give yet. The delicate, haunting quality of her work makes neo-folk seem like a very exciting prospect for 2018 and beyond.

First Aid Kit

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg have been wowing audiences with their brand of dreamy nostalgic folk-pop since 2007, when Klara was still only 14. Since then, they’ve released four albums to wide critical acclaim, toured internationally and even appeared on a Swedish stamp design. The pair have worked with established artists like Devendra Banhart, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and George Ezra, but it’s through their own music that the sisters really shine. Their songs have a catchy, feel-good quality to them but with bittersweet lyrics woven through the sweet melodies to achieve an unforgettable edge. Their recent album, Ruins, has a softer quality to it which suggests that both Klara and Johanna still have a few tricks up their sleeve to come.

Laura Marling

Laura Marling rocketed to fame on the indie-folk scene at the tender age of 18 after releasing her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim. Since then she’s continued to push boundaries musically, lyrically and artistically with a further five albums and many well-chosen collaborations with artists such as Noah & the Whale, Mumford & Sons, and Mystery Jets. In the ten years that have passed since her first album, Marling has developed her style into something truly magical, maintaining her wise words, flawless voice and arresting lyrics. Her most recent output sees her working alongside fellow musician, Mike Lindsay, to create LUMP, which is both the name of the joint project and of the album that has come out of it. Influenced by the Surrealist Movement, this venture could be Marling’s most intriguing work to date, but she is a woman full of surprises and, subsequently, always one to watch.

The Staves

The Staves are three sisters with exquisite voices that sound practically angelic when they harmonise together. They’ve opened for the likes of Florence & the Machine and Bon Iver; released three studio albums so far; and are carving a new path for female folk musicians paved with Guinness. Their harmonies may sound heavenly and many of the themes in their work are of heartbreak and wilderness, but they are determined to bring a more accessible, down-to-earth face to folk music. They are currently on tour with fellow folk sibling songstresses, First Aid Kit, bringing their particular brand of British folk rock to a wider audience.

Folk music may look very different now to the scene fifty, one hundred or even two hundred years ago but the core values remain the same. Traditional instruments, lyrical themes and creative methods maintain folk’s place at the beating heart of global communities and its place in positive resistance movements everywhere. With the invention of the internet, a lot of modern media has moved online. Long established financial institutions like HSBC can now be consulted on-the-go via mobile banking; traditional games like blackjack and roulette can be accessed from anywhere you like on PokerStars casino; and live performances from artists like Laura Marling can even be found online at Spotify. Many beloved art forms have transferred seamlessly into the new, technologically advanced world we now live in and folk music is no different.

Folk music may have its roots in the past, but it’s certainly looking towards a bright future. Cambridge Folk Festival, Knockengorroch World Ceilidh and Green Man Festival showcase new talent every year across the UK, and the US folk charts continue to champion newcomers like Hozier and The Lumineers alongside classic artists like Bob Dylan. The modern women of folk are a big part of this driving force to keep folk music firmly on the map, and they’re winning.

Folk Festival

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