Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged folk

Ani DiFranco (03/18/2009)

At the Ani DiFranco concert in Pompano Beach, FL, a woman next to me hadn’t heard Red Letter Year. But she wouldn’t have missed the show: “If it’s Ani, then I’m there.” I confess. I’m the same. I don’t have the new album. But it’s Ani. So I was there. Allie Evans, who works on Ani’s tours, talked about the audience response: “The economy may not be strong...


Malian singer Rokia Traoré blends African music with European and American folk music to create a sound that is interesting, balanced, and beautiful. As someone who fits more comfortably on the metal side of the spectrum, I have not removed this disc from my stereo since I first listened to it a month ago.

Jewell Ridge Coal

As someone with a very limited knowledge of folk music, I found Jeni & Billy’s second album Jewell Ridge Coal to be like Billy Elliot meets the Mamas and the Papas meets Dolly Parton. A little bit bluegrass, a little bit folk, and all original, the music feels simultaneously familiar and completely new. Acoustic duo Jeni Hankins and Billy Kemp’s unique sound is not only easy to listen to, it creates an atmosphere.

The Hotel Café Tour (11/1/2008)

The Hotel Café began as a tiny coffee shop in Hollywood, California. Since then, it has developed into a twenty-one-and-older venue. In its initial cozy environs, the performers created a warm, collaborative environment, sharing the stage and watching each other perform. Four years ago, the Hotel Café began to tour with some of its most promising acts. The particular show that I attended in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was an eclectic collection of indie-folk festivities.

God Has a Voice, She Speaks Through Me

You’ve probably noticed that Sierra and Bianca, the sisters who make up CocoRosie, are not the type to play coy when it comes to performing. Not only do their provocatively bright outfits and adventuresome vocals call attention to this fact, but the duo unapologetically evokes the name of the big "man" upstairs in the title of their latest single.

Katie Sawicki (5/22/2008)

Seeing Katie Sawicki live is, quite simply, wonderful. I am currently listening to her album, and as she honestly tells her own stories, I am inspired to write a narrative as a review. I went to see Katie Sawicki at The Living Room in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Lake Bottom LP

The Chapin Sisters are a trio of gifted recordings artists who have managed to reinvent the love song by incorporating a touch of irony into their modern interpretation of folk- and roots-inspired pop.

The Glow Pt. 2

Originally released in the shadow of 9/11, The Glow, Pt. 2 became an indie classic, a college radio staple, and something people would name drop to make sure you knew what was happening in the world they believed meant everything.

Tickley Feather

Do you wish Animal Collective had a female member? We’re not there yet, but since Tickley Feather (nee Annie Sachs) has been opening for the band and their sometimes solo, acclaimed drummer Panda Bear recently, we may be closer to collaboration that anyone realizes. I’ll be the first to admit that noise rock can seem insanely unlistenable if you’re used to the uncomplicated ditties mainstream radio often provides, but with a woman like Sachs, you get a lot of substance.

Canon / Verses

Being an Ani DiFranco fan has been a part of pretty much every feminist’s rite of passage since she came on the scene in the early ‘90s with the release of her self-titled album. Now seventeen years, two DVDs, and nearly thirty albums (including remixes, tributes, and live discs) later, DiFranco has simultaneously released a retrospective double-CD and book of poetry that show just how much she has grown personally, politically, and artistically.

When Your Feet Hit the Stars

The first time I listened to Carrie Biell’s new album, When Your Feet Hit the Stars, I felt like falling asleep. All but nine of its ten songs are ballads. However, during the second listen I came to appreciate Biell’s smoky, soulful voice. The music is indeed mellow and great to listen to when you are stressed out. However, there are two songs that pick up the pace a bit.

Family Tree

It's hard to listen to Nick Drake and not be reminded of those VW commercials where "Pink Moon" played while hipsters rode through the dark in their cabriolet. Nick Drake has the voice that you hear in your dreams at night. His new release, Family Tree, contains songs he recorded with his mother and family before having a record deal. Nick Drake masterfully fingers folk songs on his guitar and sometimes the piano.

Bees and the Birds

The Bee Team (formerly known as the Bees and the Birds) presents a sweet sample of songs on its EP Bees and the Birds. With melodies that seem to have been born somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, the songs with flit between folk, pop and rock. This Philadelphia band is self-described as a group that makes fun and honest music.


Finland's own multi-instrumentalist Astrid Swan’s debut album, Poverina, was released on Minty Fresh Records on May 22. The opening track, "They Need You if They Think You Love Them," starts out gently with a tapping glockenspiel and cleverly transitions into Astrid's husky voice and piano. The arrangement is intense and dramatic at times with almost a full orchestra of instruments. It is hard not to compare Ms.

New Moon

In my Alabama high school, our English teacher had us select writers to do a report on. She carefully went down the list announcing a name with a short one-line bio to quickly introduce the writer to the class. My hand shot up to claim Sylvia Plath when I learned she committed suicide in her thirties; I was morbidly intrigued. In preparation for that school report I remember sitting in the library with headphones on listening to a BBC recording Plath made of her poem "Lady Lazarus." I can still hear the tone in her voice when she announces: "I have done it again.

Children Running Through

Patty Griffin is a storyteller. Rarely confessional or self-indulgent, she tells tales, assumes personas and takes the listener deep into the lives of her characters. Each persona has her or his own musical interpretation, deepening and strengthening the voice. In “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song),” Griffin assumes the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and puts herself into to the head and heart of a man working for a vision and a dream.

Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown

Wow, this musical tribute to Larry Brown keeps your feet tapping and your mind working. These songs, by artists Brown admired, put you in the passenger seat of his little truck as you drive through the small and friendly neighborhood in the South. Spending much of his life as a firefighter, Larry Brown wrote and finally struck gold in 1988 with a collection of stories called Facing the Music. As his writing continued, he became well-known as a Southern writer of literature. His love for music equaled his passion for writing.

The Underdogs

Texas native Jen Foster is a singer-songwriter that strives for the passion of a rocker and the melodic sensibilities of a folk artist. On The Underdogs, Foster--who has a diverse following in several major cities--succeeds on both fronts on at least three songs on her second release.


Anyone who has been to college will remember the local coffee shop guitar girl. Perhaps we see the stripped-stockings wearing girl around campus, and then one day we pass the local coffee shop or the student center and there she is, with her guitar and a microphone. All of the sudden we feel insight to this woman, now that we hear her melancholy and somewhat confessional lyrics. Her feminine and fairly vulnerable voice only add to this feeling.

The Dust of Retreat

The Dust of Retreat is an impressive, eclectic debut from an eight-piece band that easily navigates the waters of folk rock, chamber pop and alt-country. Like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, singer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Edwards can tell compelling stories with just an acoustic guitar, but many of his songs, while simple in melody and structure, ascend to thrilling heights when backed by the right combination of instruments.

Aman Iman

In an age of over-produced, mass-marketed tripe, Tinariwen is a beacon shining from the Sahara. Their 2007 Aman Iman relies heavily on the rare sound of raw, straining human voices and features handclaps as primary percussion. Foremost, there is a voice singing against isolation and violence in favor of a solidarity so desperately needed to improve the station of the Touareg people.

by ebb and by flow

Summer has arrived, and if you can’t feel the warm sun on your face, the grit and grime of sand in your feet and the splash of water as you float down the river, then you need to put the new album by Alice Di Micele into your CD player.

Downside Up

Alison Ray’s debut, Downside Up is obviously influenced by Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow. Besides the bland production, Ray’s voice is problematic: while it may be charming, it sounds terribly unripe – imagine if Paula Abdul got her hands on Sheryl Crow’s backing tapes. The best songs on the album are the ones that take advantage of her thin vocals. The album’s first single, “Does the D.J.

Despite Our Differences

Despite Our Differences is Emily Saliers’ and Amy Ray's first release on their new record label, and it shows on an album that feels like a new beginning for Decatur’s own. Taking a slight upward turn in sentiments from some heavy themes on All That We Let In and the acoustic, earthy Become You, fans should be advised not to live without this one.

Amy Ray and Friends: Benefit for NOA’s Battered Women’s Shelter (3/2/2007)

It was a packed crowd for two shows at the listening room on Dahlonega’s town square for two great shows to raise and awareness for an important social problem. An evening with Amy Ray, who was named the 13th most influential lesbian by AfterEllen.com for her solo albums that do not shy away from controversial topics such as the Christian right, homophobia and violence against gays raised money for the local battered women’s shelter in town.

Trespassing through Time

Do you like Sandra Bullock? Some people do, and some people don't. But she does have a certain appeal, a wide-open smile that brightens the celluloid, and her popularity is evidenced by box office stats and the ability to get Miss Congeniality made into a sequel. Well, Trusting Calliope has a similar charm. Jill Horn and Susannah Meyer are both California natives who are often mistaken for sisters. Before they joined forces, their lives ran parallel paths.

Sarah Bettens: Live at Eddie's Attic (2/23/2007)

With her lean, blonde good looks, Sarah Bettens looks like a rock star, sings like a cabaret singer and has a warm glow about her. The former lead singer with the band K’s Choice has garnered a whole new set of fans as a solo artist. The tall, tattooed Sarah reminds some of her pal Amy Ray. Her latest release and her first as a solo artist, Scream, is also Bettens’ first album since moving into a relationship with a woman (Bettens was married to the tour manager of K's Choice).

Ladyfest South (January 25-28, 2007)

Ladyfest South is always a blast because it is back to back lady talent for a good cause. Ladyfest South 2007 happened over four nights at four venues in Atlanta and featured over fifty music and spoken word acts. This year’s beneficiaries are The Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls and The Fund for Southern Communities. Thursday January 25, 2007 - Eyedrum Art Space Phat Man Dee from PA is amazing and fun to see. She sports interesting costumes and sings cabaret camp and pop.

New Arrivals: Volume 2

Rachel Sage’s Mpress Records presents its second compilation, this one to benefit the organization Artists Against Hunger and Poverty, a division of World Hunger Year. Eighteen performers are showcased, most solidly in the “My heart: here” tradition of straightforward song stylings, some more twang than others.

Small Gods

As the guitar plays airily in the track "Dodge," soloist Swati sings, “I believe in karma, I believe in brutal honesty, why do so many of you break my heart? Maybe I’m crazy …” and these words characterize not only the general mood of her debut album, but also her individuality.