‘Pop Songs for Elk’ - Hill Folk Noir - words don’t exist to describe this musical explosion

(July 05, 2015)

Traditional American folk on speed, grunge hillbilly swamp music, psychedelic delta blues or maybe punk hill folk noirfuelled old-time – at this point I’m running out of words to describe what I’m hearing. Idiosyncratic, eccentric, peculiar or just plain "... doin' it our way." And just because words don’t exist to adequately describe this musical explosion doesn’t mean it’s not going to make a mark, because it will. You could say it’s true to itself and that’s all that’s needed.

From the opening shots of the incredible ‘North Idaho Zombie Rag’ this album surges from the speakers to dominate the room, things settle into a groove slightly with the warnings of ‘Uncle Jake’ and desperation within ‘Woods On Fire’ both delivering their own distinctive lyrics, before the haunting echoes and insistent drive of ‘Getting Late’ and ‘Shimmy’ take more steps towards the far edge.

However you want to position this once you’ve heard it is not important. What does matter is that you give this a listen with an open mind. There’s a distinct possibility that some first-time listeners might make a snap judgement because it’s different and sometimes that’s hard to accept, and that would be a shame because this is definitely worth a listen. I would have said ‘a serious listen’ but I kind’a think ‘serious’ isn’t all these guys are about.

Hill Folk Noir are Alison M. Ward (banjo, saw, washboard, vocals) Michael P. White (bass) and Travis C. Ward (guitar, banjo, vocals). The UK album release date is August 3, 2015 and they have a UK and Ireland tour coming up through July. Website:

Review: Tom Franks

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