Lots of people seem to shamefully admit to being folk music fans. Not me. I'm never in any danger of being trendy and I have absolutely no qualms about proclaiming myself a fully paid-up member of the accordian-loving, woolly jumper-wearing, weirdy-beardy folk brigade!
One of my favourite folky types is Karine Polwart, a political Scot who has collaborated with the likes of Roddy Woomble, has been nominated three times (and won twice) for Best Original Song at the UK-wide BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and previously taught philosophy to primary school children. She's certainly no lightweight and tackles a lot of important and sometimes distressing subjects in her music. Always thought-provoking and (more pleasingly) memorably melodic she's well worth a listen. John and I saw her live last year and came away from the gig much bigger fans than before we went. She's witty, engaging and pretty much mesmerising when she's singing.
I would have loved to put up a live version of Azalea Flower (click for lyrics), which is one of the best things I've ever heard live, but I'm not sure a recording exists currently. Suffice to say it would make you think entirely differently about folk music. It really made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
The first song I'm putting up is Skater of the Surface from Polwart's debut album, Faultlines, and is a soft-sounding but powerful condemnation of the type of person who never bothers to look more deeply into things. It delivers one of my favourite insult lines from any song: "And if it's true that ignorance is bliss, then you must be coming all the time." Ouch! Hear the aural slap in the face below - a left click link.
Karine Polwart - Skater of the Surface mp3 (available for 7 days)
You Can't Weld A Body is a (bloody good) demo song with more traditional style folk lyrics. It's a beautiful track about love and shipbuilding. (Another left clicker)
Karine Polwart - You Can't Weld A Body mp3 (available for 7 days)
If you liked those then please head over to Karine Polwart's website to listen to more songs and buy the CDs.
I only have one complaint about her - she rarely uses standard guitar tuning. So for clumsy chimps like me who can only just about get their guitars in tune in the standard way, it's almost impossible to attempt to play her songs! But then, maybe that's to the benefit of all mankind...
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