A recent YouGov report found that one in every five children born in the ’80s are, have tried to be, or are thinking very seriously about becoming a singery-songwriter in the folky vein. But since group consensus among the hipnoscenti deemed it OK to like Brit-folk, there’s been more new starters to the genre than you could shake a pentangle at.
Though Dublin’s Jenny Lindfors hails from just over the union’s divide, her debut album When The Night Time Comes is smack dab in the reclaimed tradition.
But, as one recent compilation of folk-oldies pointed out, folk is not just a four-letter word – to set yourself apart from the strumming pack, you’ve got to have more going for you than the Timotei hair of summer meadows or impressively static beard-work.
Armed with a smooth yet somehow arch timbre that side-steps the pitfalls of twee and posy, Lindfors makes a fair claim to be heard over the minor-chord cacophony.
More pleasingly, the ‘heart-felt songs’ of When The Night Time Comes prove to be full of good stuff like vanity, regret and lots of lust rather than ruminations in lonely kitchens framed by nursery-rhyme melodies found elsewhere in the modern folk canon.
Not only that, When The Night Time Comes demonstrates a tuneswomanship that could propel Jenny Lindfors into the Kathryn Williams slot on the Mercury shortlist.
The likes of Lovestage and I Don’t Really Want You Here sketch out something of the album’s character with gentle forebodings suggestive of changing seasons and ‘moving on’. But elsewhere Lindfors makes a clear bid for a middle-ground out of the favour of the folk connoisseur.
Lead single 2X1 (“…two multiplied by one / is not gonna be enough…”) entertains a separate paradigm altogether. Crafted from clear and true guidelines set out in ‘Paul McCartney and Graham Nash‘s How-to Pop Handbook’, 2X1’s hook is a Radio 2 sure-shot. And best of all, its bitter aftertaste avoids the smugness of the former and the simpering of the latter.
Timewarp is another pointer towards mainstream ambitions. The acoustic guitar is as quietly prominent as ever, but the double-tracked harmonies, girl-group ad-libs and handclaps acknowledge a debt to the rock-chick-lite of Sheryl Crow.
One suspects that When The Night Time Comes’ successors might move more in this direction if a record company will underwrite time with a slick producer.
And that might be a good thing. Tunes like By The Wayside and Fearful Things attempt to incorporate some of the autumn shading of mortality that’s been part of folk’s palette – but Anne Briggs she ain’t.
But a nu-pholk Christie McVie she could be. For less dragging are the likes of Let The Seas Calm and the smouldering Voodoo where Lindfors’ appetite for harmony and melody allow for some changes worthy of the Tusk album.
Maybe it’s already too late to enforce population control on the rising folk baby-boomers. When The Night Time Comes may just be enough to halt a referendum. For now.