IoS Sounds of 2013: Americana and folk


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The Independent Culture

What I most look forward to in 2013 is being surprised. That's one of the virtues of "Americana and Folk" – you occasionally get surprises: unexpected little leakages of unheralded genius from a world in which PR, hype and buzz certainly exist but are driven less by money than by good will and the operations of conscience, narcissism and self-belief (with righteousness and piety heaped like spinach on the side). Over the past three or four years, a lot of the music I've liked best has been by people of whom I'd never heard.

Let's not get carried away here. They'd certainly heard of themselves. They'd heard of themselves to the degree that they were prepared to exercise untold volumes of will and drive to get their music heard by the likes of you and me. But they had no money to spend on the purchase of hype and buzz, and so people like you and me got to hear them in what feels like our own terms, provided we did a little work – a pleasure in itself.

So I fully expect the unlooked-for in 2013. One surprise I won't be getting is Anaïs Mitchell's album with Jefferson Hamer, Child Ballads (out February). This is not a surprise only because I've heard the thing already and know it to be quietly, warmly, poetically magnificent. She's my kind of leakage.