Fort-Worthy Folk Edition: Megg Farrell, Kelly Hunt, Jake Xerxes Fussell & Allison de Groot And Tatiana Hargreaves
Megg Farrell: Megg Farrell
It’s Newport Folk Festival week and as is the tradition around here at the Weekly RecommNeds, it’s time to feature some of my favorite folk-y albums of artists who aren’t playing the festival, but, who knows?, may someday in the future. The list of great under-the-radar folk and Americana albums out this year is long, but I’ll keep it to just four top-of-the-list’rs for this week. First up is Megg Farrell, a Brooklyn-based jazz singer who has always had the country-folk itch and so just went for it. So let’s just call her self-titled release a debut and it’s a strong one, the songs and sound of a seasoned veteran. This is honky-tonk country with a rather rocking thread coursing its way through and Farrell’s voice, which retains a glint of that jazz, doing the heavy lifting. Check it out!
Kelly Hunt: Even The Sparrow
My next rec is Even The Sparrow, the debut album from Kansas City musician Kelly Hunt. Armed with her almost 100-year-old calfskin banjo and a haunting draw-you-in voice, Hunt proves herself to be the real deal. The songs on Even The Sparrow are landscape paintings, crackling-dry fields, hot summer sun hanging overhead, rolling hills in the background. The music unfolds into dreams of banjo, occasionally accompanied by fiddle, guitar and more. But the central focus here is Hunt — her words, her voice and all that’s inside her that comes out in her songs. I think you’ll dig.
Jake Xerxes Fussell: Out Of Sight
Jake Xerxes Fussell has been featured in this column probably the same amount of times as he’s put out a full-length record and with good reason. He’s just about my favorite folk artist out there these days and if you’re still unfamiliar with him, he’s got a new one out that may be his best one yet. Out Of Sight differs from his previous releases only in the fact that he’s augmented his usual just-voice-and-guitar with a full band. The magic is still there, even with extra guitar, drums and more. Fussell takes old songs from the public domain and other archaeological record digging and, instead of bringing them to the modern day, has a way of singing and playing that transports you to whatever time and place they came from, a time machine voice that was made just to work this wizardry. So good.
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves: Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves
OK, I lied. My final pick for this week actually is playing at Newport this weekend, but it’s so good, I can’t resist recommending it here. Truth be told, I was holding onto this one for this week’s batch and then they got added to the festival as if the bookers were maybe reading my mind. And with good reason, Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves channel old-time Americana to perfection. The album is about half instrumental –- mostly banjo and fiddle duets — and half with vocals, mostly playing old, neglected relics from the roots of folk music. Like overlooked stones caked in dirt and dust, they take these songs and polish them to their rightful shine, bringing a sense of history, its beauty and its ugliness, along the way. Having seen both of them play live this winter, the duo shares a similar found-object artistry with Jake Fussell, although their sounds are quite different. Listening to them both is to travel to the genesis of American folk music, a highly recommended journey. See you at the Fort!