Female folk musicians to love

21Jan13

I’m no expert on folk music (or even females), but there’s a few artists who’ve been my consistent accompaniment to the last year or so.

Here are three amazing women artists to get you through the winter. Get that camomile tea brewing, lie back and dream of spring.

Josephine Foster foster

I saw Josephine at Cafe Oto in November after my boyfriend Adam saw the first night of her residency and told me to “go, go if you don’t go to any other gigs this year.”

I was happy to go on my own (though I was pleased to see my friend Geoff there), and we stood and listened to her astonishing voice in the reverent silence people don’t break at Oto. She trained as an opera singer and can do that stunning vibrato effect, so that her voice sounds like a cross between playing glass and glass breaking and breaking hearts.

Below is Child of God from her latest album Blood Rushing, but her material in Spanish with the Victor Herero band is not to be missed – she sounds so sweet and pure on such traditional sounding tracks.

Julie Doironjulie-doiron

I’ve listened to Doiron’s The Longest Winter EP countless times over the past few years, always in the cold weather, so much so that I know exactly which song will follow and which chord will strike next. Recorded with the band Wooden Stars, it’s a beautiful take on loss and the feeling that the winter will never end, in a similar vein to Bon Iver’s Emma, Forever Ago.

Lately I’ve been listening to it in the mornings on the cold walk to yoga in the morning, at 7am when it’s still dark, when there’s just the cold and her warm, perfect voice while London wakes up.

The Last Time in particular is heartbreaking, and would have to be in my top five – or definitely ten – breakup songs with its minimalism:

this will be the last time
this will be the last time
this will be the last time
this will be the last time

anyone is pretty when she smiles
I mean that she’s smiling like she’s laughing
anyone is pretty when she smiles
me, I’m only pretty when I’m crying

maybe that’s how it works for me
maybe that’s how it works for me

Her Consolation Prize is differently paced but a brilliant take on unrequested opinions, post-relationship: People insisted on telling you what a great couple you had been/They insisted on telling you/Over and over again.

Karen Dalton CEZXmoJN5fuZ

Firstly, look how cool Karen looks on her 1966 album cover. She had a creaky beautiful voice and never recorded any of her own material, but made a name in Greenwich Village and beyond for her performances – and when you hear her sing you understand why.

This Pitchfork review of the album tells you all you need to know about her:

“Dalton has a Mona Lisa voice: it gestures toward a whole universe of unknowable things, and the way it makes notes curl up at the corners seems to suggest– no matter how sad the song– that its keeper is slyly smiling to herself about something you’ll never quite comprehend … 1966 finds Dalton in a setting even more intimate: her own cabin in Colorado, rehearsing with her estranged husband, fellow Village ex-pat Richard Tucker … the occasional snippets of dialogue from the couple (who split shortly after) straddle the line between poignancy and black comedy. “Wow, what an ending, we just did it perfect,” Tucker sighs at the end of a rendition of Hardin’s “Shiloh Town”. “No, we didn’t,” Dalton mutters. “I didn’t know what you were doing.””

Sadly Dalton never recovered from her struggle with drugs. She died in 1993 at the age of 55.

Here’s her cover of Tim Hardin’s Reason To Believe.

Like the sound of these artists? Also check out Laura Gibson, Diane Cluck and – obviously – Joanna Newsom.

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