Category: Joel Rakes

New Artists, (Re)Covered: Still-Rising Stars
Ruth Notman, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Fort DeClare & more!

October 16th, 2010 — 01:55 pm

The mailbox is stuffed to the gills with sweet sounds from artists we first noted as new and rising stars – a validating turn of events, proving that the young songwriters we feature in our New Artists, Old Songs series and elsewhere really are the next generation of folk music. Today, we celebrate our prescience with a look at the newest output from some increasingly familiar under-thirty voices, each well worth keeping on the radar screen.

Though we featured her famous families early in our incarnation as a folk coverblog, we first noted the emergence of Lucy Wainwright Roche when she appeared at Falcon Ridge Folk Fest in the summer of 2009. Back then, Lucy was newly committed to the music world, having hit the road in ’07 as a backup singer for brother Rufus after finishing a Masters in Ed., then going on to record a sweet pair of 8 song EPs; since then, she’s cropped up at least once more, thanks to an etherial duet with her father on his double-disc tribute to Charlie Poole. And now, with the release of her debut album Lucy, the youngest member of the Roche/Wainwright clan comes fully into her own.

But those who love her work with father Loudon, half-sibling Rufus, mother Suzzy of The Roches and others need not be dismayed: all appear on the aptly-titled album, along with the Indigo Girls and fellow Falcon Ridge Most Wanted showcase alums Girlyman. Lucy, which also includes a surprising hidden-track cover of Elliot Smith’s Say Yes recorded with nasal NPR stalwart Ira Glass, is a tour de force of wry, concrete songwriting, mixing her parent’s observational prowess with her own innocent voice and youthful optimism. See if you can identify the harmonies in this gorgeous new album-closing cover, then head over to Signature Sounds to sample and purchase Lucy for yourself.

Bonus tracks:

Previously on Cover Lay Down:
Lucy Wainwright Roche duets with her father on classic tune Beautiful

Like fellow new britfolk sensation Kate Rusby, Ruth Notman came to me through my own blog, via a Brit Femfolk guest post three summers ago while I was away at my annual folk festival journey; though our guest poster Divinyl, once a stalwart of collaborative music blog Star Maker Machine, has long gone absent from the web, Notman herself remains a voice to listen for, cranking out more and more sweet and tender music as she approaches her early twenties.

In the past year, in fact, Notman has recorded not one but two wonderful coversongs: a truly great recapture of Fairport Convention’s 40 year old french version of Dylan’s If You’ve Gotta Go, Go Now released last fall on her newest album The Life Of Lilly, and an even more recent take on the well-covered theme song to Weeds, recorded for a Pete Seeger tribute on BBC Radio 2.

Bonus tracks:

Recently on Cover Lay Down:
Ruth Notman covers Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia

Teenage sensation Sam Ramos, a.k.a. Fort deClare, made a splash here on Cover Lay Down just a few months ago with an exclusive look at his first recorded coverage tryptych; now he’s back with more of the delightful lo-fi indie electrofolk which won our hearts the first time around. Still delicate, but increasingly well-balanced in production and tenor, the new songs only reinforce our fandom, and their selection speaks loudly and clearly of Sam’s influences. With its thick, layered atmosphere and gentle repetitive elements, fans of Vashti Bunyan, Bon Iver, Sam Amidon, Iron and Wine, and that early Morning Benders covers album will find this an especially vibrant set – and Elise Krepcho’s vocal turn on Train Song beats Feist’s, too.

Meanwhile, with Christmas just around the corner, it’s great news indeed to find our favorite Sufjan-meets-Denison Witmer singer-songwriter Joel Rakes gearing up for another holiday coverage sampler. This time, however, he’s looking for our input, letting fans vote to influence his yearly selection. And I’m thrilled to have a chance to advocate for both songwriter and song selection in one fell swoop.

We’ve featured the Philly-bred artist for several years running, thanks to his fun yearly takes on the classic hymns of the season; he’s sure to revisit some oldies this time around, too, but I’m gunning for some stripped-down coverage of more modern songs, like Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmas Time and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You. Won’t you help this coverblogger’s Christmas dreams come true? Head over to Joel’s blog to vote now, and pick up his newest full-band EP The Philadelphia Sessions, recorded just before his move to Nashville late last year, while you’re there. Here’s a pair of older Xmas covers to whet your whistle:

Finally, word of new work from local alt-country folkrockers Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers is always good news, and though they’ve already finished their swing through the lower half of the country, I’m happy to note that their Fall tour will soon bring them back to my own neighborhood as they continue to promote their newest record The Bear, which comes highly recommended. Kellogg himself is an over-thirty, and there’s nary a cover on The Bear, but the addition of fave young folkpop-slash-bluegrass sensation Sara Watkins on this very recent, somewhat raw live Townes Van Zandt* Rolling Stones cover, recorded from the crowd just last week in Pittsburgh, bring it into our under-thirty mix today.

*This version of Dead Flowers was sent along to Kellogg’s mailing list labeled as a Townes cover; it’s certainly derivative, but we know better, don’t we…

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