Lisa O’Neill, Lori Watson, Trembling Bells, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy were among the many standout acts in a very distinguished year for the genre
The best folk of 2018 was raw, bloody and brutal. Stick in the Wheel’s Follow Them True (From Here) started the year with an uncompromising take on traditional music, delivering ancient songs such as The Unquiet Grave as if they were emerging from the earth after years of being lost. Experimental flourishes (Nicola Kearey’s vocals treated with Auto-Tune, for example) only added to the uncanny, arresting mood. In November, the band also released an atmospheric mixtape, which is hugely worth checking out.
Lisa O’Neill’s remarkable fourth album, Heard a Long Gone Song is a work that commands attention. As honest and creative as it is arresting; her mix of collected and self-written, traditional and contemporary song has earned high praise, and justifiably so. With the influence of traditional song stronger than in any of her previous albums, both in terms of content and approach, it’s not so much a change in direction for the County Cavan artist, it’s an entirely relevant exploration of the background to her music [ . . . ]