Guest Blogger - For Folk's Sake
Hello. I'm Lynn from music website For Folk's Sake. We cover folk and roots inspired music with news, interview, recommendations and reviews.
Some of my favourite albums of all time are concept albums. There's Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, The Mountain Goats' incredible musical diatribe The Sunset Tree and, of course, Sufjan Stevens' groundbreaking album, Illinois.
And happily, since we started FFS nearly three years ago, there seems to have been a rush of obsessively crafted, completely non-embarrassing concept albums.
Here are five of the best...
Anais Mitchell - Hadestown
Vermont's Anais Mitchell drew on the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice to create this beautiful and affecting album. The heroine Eurydice leaves her poor lover Orpheus for the promise of a better life in corrupt capitalist Hadestown. For the album's recording Mitchell rounded up performers including Ani DiFranco, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem). The result is an too-often overlooked masterpiece.
Darren Hayman - Pram Town
Ex-Hefner man Darren Hayman's Pram Town tells the tale of a man living in Harlow in Essex and his relationship with a London woman. The lyrics brilliantly describe the town as: 'Chicken and pushchairs and ringtones' and the chasm in their lifestyles: 'She's all sundried tomatoes, I'm all gravy and potatoes'. It's basically Philip Larkin poetry and Alan Bennett monologues set to perfect four-minute pop songs. What could be better?
Decemberists - Hazards of Love
Colin Meloy of the Decemberists tends to eschew the present day, instead focusing his lyrics on the barrow boys and legionnaires of old. In The Hazards of Love, released in 2009, he tells a story of a woman who falls in love with a shape-shifting forest dweller but they're thwarted by her jealous mother and a dastardly Rake (whose eponymous song is the album's highlight). Becky Stark from My Brightest Diamond and Jim James from My Morning Jacket both lent their vocals to the project.
Noah and the Whale - The First Days of Spring
Surely one of the most heartbreaking albums of all time. Noah & the Whale's First Days of Spring is about frontman Charlie Fink's split with fellow West London folk artist Laura Marling. It takes the listener on a journey from devastating heartbreak, through self-indulgent sorrow to cautious optimism. With a full orchestra adding to the drama, you'll need a good sit down after listening to this, but it's worth it.
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Owen Pallet used to be known as Final Fantasy, and before that he was a violin-toting member of Arcade Fire. In Heartland, Pallett narrates a story about a "young, ultra-violent farmer" called Lewis grappling with his creator, which is Pallett himself. It's beautifully orchestrated and truly creative setting of the ultimate power-struggle.
And there are so many more that didn't quite make the list. Like Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian)'s God Help the Girl, Black Sheep Boy by Okkervil River, End Times by EELS, Bill Callahan's Apocalypse and Jon Boden's Songs from the Floodplain.
Also coming soon is The High Country by Richmond Fontaine. It's billed as a musical novel about drug-addled psychopath who falls in love with a girl who works at an autoparts store all set in the rural Northwest of America. If Fontaine's past performance is anything to go by, this is one to look out for.
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