Photo-art by @andrewabyars (IG)
From all indie genres, Folk seems to have a special place in our hearts. We can't help to get back to folk songs when we look for some calm and inspiration. When we want to hope for a nice dream. Or when we are feeling in the mood for some very well told stories. As an honour to those feelings, this series is entitled TIFU (Today I Folked Up). Only folk songs from new folk artists. To let you and ourselves go. 

Andrew Byars – Company

Andrew Byars, hailing from the artistic landscapes of the California Bay area, emerges as a versatile force in the folk scene. A seasoned songwriter, guitarist, and trumpeter, Byars first made waves as a pivotal creative force in the San Francisco-based folk trio, The Parmesans, gracing stages along the West Coast from 2012 to 2015. His musical journey expanded when he collaborated with Luke Temple and Kosta Galanopoulos to bring his debut album, “Company” to life. With roots deeply embedded in the Bay area’s folk tradition, Andrew Byars’ solo venture encapsulates a fusion of his diverse talents, promising a sound that resonates with the raw essence of folk storytelling.

Photo by Amber Rose Bauer

“Company” the eponymous track from Byars’ debut solo album, serves as a testament to the artist’s folkish prowess. Produced by Luke Temple, who also lends his skills on bass, and featuring Kosta Galanopoulos on drums, the track unveils a mesmerizing blend of psychedelic smooth folk and rock. Recorded in Long Beach, CA, in April 2022, the song sets the tone for the entire album with its unique, unafraid approach. Byars, showcasing his skills on acoustic guitar, vocals, and trumpets, infuses the track with gorgeous, awkward-meets-melancholy vocals that seamlessly transition into a storytelling vibe, immersing the listener in a rich narrative. The melody, with its great cycle, guides the audience toward a catchy chorus, woven with gorgeous lyrical elements. “Company” emerges as a beautiful folk composition, uncomplex yet immense, fearlessly exploring the boundaries of the genre and leaving an indelible mark on the listener’s soul.

Arliston – Thawed

Arliston, the dynamic South London indie duo featuring vocalist and instrumentalist Jack Ratcliffe and instrumentalist/producer George Hasbury, unveils a musical masterpiece with their latest release, “Thawed”. In our exploration of the indie folk realm, the track emerges as the best example of alternative folk we’ve encountered in quite some time. It captivates with its exceptional vocal nuances, poised on the verge of an alternative rock anthem. Jack Ratcliffe’s delivery adds a distinctive flavour, infusing the song with magnetic energy.

Thawed” seamlessly weaves together an array of awesome, catchy elements that form a harmonious tapestry, skillfully blending vocals, guitars, drums, and clever background nuances. The synergy between these elements creates a sonic experience that resonates deeply with the listener, making it a standout composition. As the song unfolds, it grows organically, gradually building in intensity to become profoundly meaningful. By the end, we encounter a sweet The National-like point, where even the vocals strangely and gorgeously feel taken from Berninger himself. The icy undertones and signature spacey atmospherics take on a new dimension, revealing a side to this creative duo that adds richness and depth to their evolving sound.

Ernold Same – Living Thing

Released some months ago but only now getting to this but boldly venturing into new sonic territories, Ernold Same, the brainchild of Bristol-based DIY maestro Chris Barrett (also known for projects like Something Anorak & Pictures of Belgrade), released a mesmerizing debut single entitled “Living Thing”. This release followed the innovative project Post Yoga, centred around a thrift store keyboard, and showcased Barrett’s shape-shifting musical prowess. Teaming up with producer and musician Connor Jones, the track is a sonic journey marked by warm, intricate productions, adorned with synths, strings, and ethereal guitar lines that create a lush backdrop for Barrett’s dreamy vocals.

Living Thing” goes into the ephemeral nature of relationships, capturing the fleeting moments that, though often forgotten, feel profoundly significant in the present. The debut single is part of the EP titled “The Reader“, released past September. As Ernold Same, Barrett and Jones forge a dynamic creative collaboration, solidifying the birth of a unique musical entity. Only time will unveil how long this iteration lasts, but with Ernold Same, Barrett continues to assert himself as an artist who defies conventions and captivates audiences with his distinctive songwriting and performance style.

Often Easy – So Much So Lately

Often Easy emerges as a distinctive and ragged indie rock ensemble, exuding a funky blend that encapsulates the urgency reminiscent of a desert showdown orchestrated by Tom Waits, where the spirits of Glass Animals and the Strokes clash in a musical duel using guitar strings, mic stands, and disassembled brass instruments. This unconventional fusion creates anthemic bops that are both raw and sophisticated. Their sound is a chaotic yet harmonious marriage of diverse influences, delivering a sonic experience that feels like a musical adventure through uncharted territories, including the Folk territory.

In their latest, “Questions at Midnight”, they navigate the delicate space between a 90s alternative ballad and a tender Americana song. The lyrics sing into the universal contemplation of life decisions that shape our present, capturing the essence of late-night introspection when the world sleeps, or when a familiar scent transports you to a distant childhood memory. The song’s atmospheric quality, reminiscent of a nocturnal journey, explores the unspoken inquiries that linger in the quiet moments, inviting listeners to reflect on their own life’s journey and the enigmatic paths that lead to the present moment. Often Easy’s “Questions at Midnight” becomes a sonic Folk canvas, painting a vivid picture of introspection and nostalgia within the folk-based compilation landscape.

Samuel Blaney – Paradise

Samuel Blaney graces the folk music scene once again with his sophomore single, “Paradise”—a tender and intimate ode to the transition of seasons. Following his debut track, “Ember”, which beautifully chronicled the shift from winter to spring, this new release delves into the transformative hues of autumn, painting a vivid picture of nature’s shift from vibrant green to multi-faceted amber, ochre, and vermillion. Blaney, a singer and songwriter whose life intertwines seamlessly with both nature and music, crafts the second instalment of a series of tender love songs that mirror the delicate dance between the changing world and the human experience.

Photo by Suzi Corker

As winter’s hushed silence approaches, Samuel Blaney invites us to savour the evanescent moments with “Paradise”—a melodic journey that delicately holds the fine threads of time. The track, produced in collaboration with Adem, unfolds with a beautiful, humble, and simple acoustic guitar that evolves gracefully, establishing an intimate connection with the listener without losing its innate ability to sound both simple and profound. Blaney’s calm and melancholic vocals, reminiscent at times of acts like Damien Rice or Nick Mulvey, carry a unique and surprising quality. Despite the relatively sombre tone, the song captivates immensely, invoking powerful memories in the listener. The subtle evolution from start to finish weaves a beautiful and enchanting narrative, showcasing the inherent difficulty of escaping the magic of a beautiful folk ballad.

Sir Jay – Name on the Wall

Sir Jay, also known as Sergei Vartiainen, is a Finnish-Russian singer, producer, and songwriter whose musical style blends the aesthetics of the 60s and 70s with contemporary millennial sounds. Combining finger-picked acoustic guitar, analog synths, vintage beats, and poetic lyrics, Sir Jay creates a masterful musical universe. Moving to Berlin just before the pandemic, the artist’s sound evolved during three unusual years influenced by the city’s atmosphere. The resulting album, featuring nine tracks with soft vocals, carefully crafted arrangements, and emotional lyrics, showcases the artist’s versatility. Collaborating with violinist Elia Lombardini and drummer Oskari Järvinen adds the final touch to the album, elevating it to new heights.

Crafted during a poignant period in Sir Jay‘s life, the latest single, “Name on the Wall“, serves as a personal reflection on the loss of a close individual. Inspired by the artist’s observations of nature’s signs amid the shock of bereavement, the lyrics weave a profound and universally resonant narrative. Demonstrating his versatility as a multi-instrumentalist and producer, the track features vocals, piano, soft drums, electric and acoustic guitars, along with a poignant harmonica solo.

Susannah Lee – Oxytocin

Susannah Leee, the folk/pop singer/songwriter hailing from the heart of Dallas, Texas, has carved a unique path in the music scene. Having laid down the tracks of her first single at the tender age of 18, and following it up with her debut EP album at 20, Lee’s musical journey has been a testament to both her talent and dedication. A versatile artist, she has graced stages as a solo performer and also lent her skills to local bands in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Notably, her musical endeavours took a brief hiatus during her two-year service as a Peace Corps Volunteer, adding a distinctive chapter to her story. Now, with an eagerness to share her creative spirit, Harper is gearing up for the release of a series of singles that promise to captivate audiences with her soulful folk-infused melodies.

In her latest offering, “Oxytocin” Ella Harper invites listeners into a world where heartfelt emotions are intertwined with a touch of humour and a sprinkle of scientific whimsy. The song unfolds as a genuine exploration of using science as a comforting ally when faced with the uncertainty of new and intimidating emotions. Harper’s evocative storytelling, accompanied by a musical composition that builds with sincerity, showcases her ability to create a narrative that is both relatable and uniquely charming. The track stands as a testament to Harper’s artistry, blending folk sensibilities with a refreshing perspective on the human experience.

All these songs (and all previous songs featured in TIFU) are also featured on our folk playlist. Follow it on Spotify: