Long gone are the days when singers like Bob Dylan would bring to the audience earnest songs from on the road, and the stories that inspired them.
...or, so we thought.
Much the way that rock and punk started teaming up with pop music as a sub-genre, (even though they were arguably softball versions of what they used to be. See; lifeless husks) folk-rock and pop-folk have begun to seep through the cracks and invade the stereos of America.
How is up for speculation, and your guess is about as good as mine. The leading theory is that the movement was started by pop-country singers like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood (two dollars into the “two easy” jar, please).
The two started out in roots of country and folk from the south of the nation, but in an effort to keep up with current trends, opted to make their music appeal to more of the universal pop-genre. This spawned about a decade of growing on country music well outside of the genre’s projected demographic.
And what happens when artists struggling to break out into the industry catch a whiff of what might be the next best thing? Well, we can take a lesson from the emo craze that dominated the early millenium until about 2006 when most of the bands started transcending genres to conform to pop-punk and sell their sound (Exhibit A: Van Atta High).
Chris Carrabba teamed up with long time friends to make this project happen, and went so far to claim that folk roots were his original plan, but he didn’t want to do injustice to the genre. But then, why now?
The short answer? It’s finally popular.
While the EP is incredible in its own right, it just seems a little too convenient that the long-time pop-acoustic singer of Dashboard Confessional suddenly strikes an affinity for folk music the minute that the genre is seeing more and more developing bands.
Now, Twin Forks is a pretty decent band. They, like many folk bands put on an elaborate stage show, and sing songs that are fun and lively, sure. But listen closely; there’s still traces left over from the Dashboard days in there, and the combination is almost sickening.
Maybe it’s that he just couldn’t get away from who he is, or that he wanted to put the same popular spin on his variant of folk music- either way, we get like two good songs off the EP that can be considered real “folk.”
The EP represents folk’s long overdue return to mainstream channels however. With any luck, Twin Forks will lead the charge in the north, and we might actually have a chance to turn a lot of alternative rock and pop-punk bands struggling to get noticed into a bunch of hipsters who don’t believe in their sound at all!
Sure, a few might get signed, and a few might have betrayed themselves just enough to hate themselves and disband, (which, no offense, is the right thing to do) but at the end of the day, it’s not the return that we deserve.
Bob Dylan produced a lot of really great folk tunes that transcended genres on their own. He never cared what anyone thought, or what was selling at the time. And that’s what folk (and for arguments sake, music) is all about! It’s about creating earnest, pristine, untainted artistry about the stories you create on the road of life; about the people and places you’ve come to know and lost; paved by wanderlust and broken hearts, just trying to tell their story with a quick tune and an acoustic guitar. Though, some of these new guys with big bands featuring cellos, mandolins, fiddles, and jazz kits; I'm not complaining.
But what we do need to remind you, if you're heading into that territory, is that folk music is supposed to be beautifully unaltered. It isn't mixed or mastered, it's not endorsing products on TV, and it's certainly not selling itself to anything less than a noble public cause. Anything less than that is a first-class ticket to pop music.
Of course, what we’ll inevitably get is more songs to cry about your ex-girlfriend (slash boyfriend; we don’t discriminate here), but we’ve got to give them credit, the industry found a new way to ruin something else we used to love.
For the sake of not being too critical, here’s a few groups both of the awesome, and almost-folk persuasion that are completely worth mentioning and definitely worth looking into: