The premise of Music For Dreams collection Folk But Not Folk! 2 is to collate a selection of songs from different genres and binding them together under the as ever commercially unpopular heading ‘folk’. Referred to as the ‘f-word’, Music For Dreams appear determined to prove that there is more the folk music scene than possibly meets the eye. Folk But Not Folk! 2 is nothing if not diverse, boasting everything from 70s krautrock to Simon & Garfunkel inspired cover versions. Inevitably Mercury nominees Fionn Regan and Scott Matthews are present as well as singer-songwriter Josh Rouse, but also in the mix are avant-garde cellist Arthur Russell and the sunshine pop of Pajaro Sunrise. Having set-out to redefine a genre, have Music For Dreams been able to give the un-credible an edge? Can folk really be ‘cool’?
Opening with Benjamin Biolay’s laissez faire musings on “Bien Avant”, Folk But Not Folk! 2 sets out instantly on assured footing. Easing us in with the subtle strumming, “Bien Avant” is a breezy morning wake up call. Biolay’s talk singing is universally appealing. Similarly, Arthur Russell’s louche “Home Away From Home” and Josh Rouse’s sublime “Snowy” would ease their way into any music fan’s collection. Scott Matthew’s “Elusive” has already proved mainstream appeal, given its inclusion on collections including NME Presents.
Diverse, boasting everything from 70s krautrock to Simon & Garfunkel inspired cover versions.
Moving away from those likely to get airplay, Folk But Not Folk! 2 churns up a hit and miss collection. There are the truly unforgettable — Bird’s spooking “Little Steps”, the breathy funk of N*Grandjean’s “The First Picture” and Bliss’s “Trust In Your Love”, which spell-bindingly uses Ane Brun’s eerie echoes. More questionable contributions include a bluesy cover of Grethe and Jorgen Ingemann’s “Dancing Ditty” (“Dancevise”) by Danes Jazzbox and the chilling “Tontillon” by Eroc.
The clever thing about Folk But Not Folk! 2 is that it steers clear of what could be termed traditional folk, yet side-steps contemporary mainstream crossover acts (Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons and Noah & The Whale). In the same way that New Country is just country-tinged pop, Folk But Not Folk! 2 comprises of ‘world pop’. This is by no means a bad thing, but perhaps the ‘but not folk’ element of the titling is more relevant.