Home > Music > What’s new in bedroom folk?

What’s new in bedroom folk?

As will happen in January, my go-to music has become more and more stark.  Now, as January tightens her grip, I will enter perhaps the darkest hour of my listenership.  While I love winter, I just can’t get over the intense bleakness of January and February.  The early snow is what really killed this winter for me.  Quite frankly, the later our snows come, the better.  Now I’m sitting here, staring at barren trees, not really caring if it snows again or not.  At least if the snow had held off, I’d be sitting here wondering when those marvelous first flurries would appear.  Nope.  Now all I have to look forward to is the coming thaw.

Anyway, back to the music.  I’m a sucker for a mood, and nothing has typified – or manifested – my mood this winter better than the following albums.  Each could easily be bunched into a category I would call ‘bedroom folk’, that – thanks to poppa winter – has become my genre du jour as of late.  If you’re like me, and you become a reclusive, pale, schlubby mess in the chilly months, then I suspect the following cuts will help to ease the tension…

Carla Bruni – Quelqu’un M’a Dit

I don’t speak French.  I have no idea what themes Bruni, the first-lady of France, is touching on, or if there’s an arc involved, or anything.  However, the music is so soothing and open, that it’s easy to create whatever type of dreamscape you wish.  Whether it be a jaunt to the Riviera, or a lazy autumn morning in the hills of the French alps, this pressed-velvet gem lets you have it all.  Sarkoze is truly a lucky man.

(note* not the album cover, but I hope we can make an exception because… ok, I have no excuse.)

The Be Good Tanyas – Chinatown

Maybe this winter chill is getting me lonesome, but for whatever reason women like Bruni, and this Canadian trio are my second line of defense, after a good down-comforter.  While it may be too-bluegrassy for some, Chinatown is an album whose understatement and gothic charm are enough to win over any folk fan, or just music fan for that matter.  If Tim Burton were to make a movie about the Dust bowl, these ladies would be the ones singing slave hymns in the unemployment lines.  It’s really haunting stuff.

J. Tillman – Year in the Kingdom

Anyone can play guitar.  More accurately, let me say that anyone can play ACOUSTIC guitar, or at least that’s what ‘the scene’ may lead you to believe.  Don’t be fooled.  A lot of these would-be, nouveau-Neil Young’s are nothing but trash.  J. Tillman, Fleet Foxes’ drummer, is everything but, and has produced one of the best folk albums I’ve heard in months.  While every sensitive dude out there is trying to sound like Nick Drake playing Elliot Smith tunes, Tillman does something that’s totally fucking wild: he sounds like J. Tillman.  His work is beautiful.  All of it.  Remember the first time you held someone, and thought, ‘Now this is true romance.’?  Yea, that’s what he sounds like.

James Blackshaw – The Glass Bead Game

While it’s tempting to say that Blackshaw is simply a guitar player’s guitar player, I say resist it, and try to see him more as a man making orchestral pieces using only piano and 12-string guitar.  I say this because his virtuosity is not overwhelming.  You never get the sense that he’s playing his pieces because he wants you to see how good he is.  Nope, leave that for the jazz guys.  Blackshaw is the last of a dying breed of folk guitarists, and one of the few popular, young musicians who cites names like Fahey, Jansch, and Kottke as principal inspirations.  Only Blackshaw has erected his own totem in their woods – even having a clear homage to Philip Glass in ‘Game’ – his most recent album.  He’s darker, more brooding, and much more mood-evoking than any of those dudes, save Glass.  Give him a listen, but before you close your eyes, just remind yourself it’s only one man.  Truly fantastic stuff.

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