As folk music has evolved, so has the definition of what can be considered “folk music.”ELECTRIC GHOSTScuts through the definitions and the releases to bring you the best each month has to offer by way of sad music about feelings.
I’m not going to lie and tell you there was a lot that came through my speakers, album-wise, during March that was worth you getting real excited about from a folk perspective (thanks a lot SXSW). But I will tell you that there were two albums released during March and one that snuck in during the final few days of February after I submitted the last column, so let’s focus on the positive and not the negative, okay?
Sometimes things are both wonderfully weird and perfectly focused, and such is the case with the closing chapter of Damien Jurado’sMaraqopatrilogy,Visions of Us on the Land. Over the course of 17 tracks Jurado tries to wrap of the story of wandering self-discovery he started withMaraqopain 2012, the tracks morphing and bleeding into one another beneath layers of fuzz and guitars and voices and haze, Jurado’s distinctly beautiful voice tying them all together and keeping the story coherent. There’s a lot to take in here, as the strummy Damien you and I fell in love with forever ago mostly isn’t really present here, instead replaced mostly with a Damien Jurado who wants to present his songs in a swirling, psychedelic haze (though he’ll still gut you with a sad line, don’t worry), but it all works as a whole. This is an album, not a collection of songs, and it all leads to one question in the end: is Damien Jurado a crazy genius we don’t appreciate enough for just how damn good he is at telling the stories he dreams up? (The answer is yes.)
Lucy Dacus-No Burden
Was this album released in March? No, no it wasn’t. But really, I don’t care about that, because this is one of the most pleasant, affecting surprises of 2016, an album full of smart, wordy verses and memorable choruses and that of-the-moment electricity that comes from recording an entire album in a single day, as Dacus and her band did. All observational musings, clever wisdom and heartfelt honesty, these are songs full of those painful truths we all learn as we grow up- people will let you down, love won’t always win, growing up is hard, etc.- but they never feel too weighty or as though they lack hope. It’s quite the feat for any songwriter, even more so when you consider Dacus is just 20 years old and this is her debut album.
There’s a ramshackle anxiousness and frail urgency that courses through each of the 7 songs onA Rush of Days, two feelings that make a ton of sense once you consider that these tunes were recorded during a bunch of early morning sessions and, well, that’s how the cookie crumbles in the morning for most all of us. We talk so much about records that are great for drives in terms of them being meant for sun-filled drives or leisurely evening drives through the city, but this is more or less the perfect record to soundtrack that morning commute you have, enough space to get your under-caffeinated thoughts together and engaging enough to keep you interested and invested. We need more albums like this in our lives than we all realize, and it’s nice to finally have the first great one of 2016 arrive.