As someone who adores folk music more than most other genres, I've had my share of deep diving on Spotify to find some new favorites whenever I get the chance. I don't claim superiority by recommending music by any means, but I do think that some of the artists are underrated or under appreciated and if you share a love for folk music, you might want to give this list a listen!
1. The Ballroom Thieves
I first heard the song "Anybody Else" from their album Deadeye, and I instantly fell in love with the sound. A lot of their inspiration comes from fighting against the exhaustion of depression and mental illness, and persevering through those dark times in search of those moments of light that we have to hope exist.
2. Fleet Foxes
A bit more well known I'm sure, as perhaps you've heard "Mykonos" or "White Winter Hymnal," I love the sound Fleet Foxes put out. They're chock-full of beautiful harmonies and soft voices that could sing you to sleep if you'd let them. Their self-titled album from 2008 is full of familiar and less-well known tunes that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
3. Iron & Wine
Better known still, probably from "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" back in the Twilight days, Iron & Wine has plenty of albums out with so much to be desired. Some songs are soft ballads and others gruff story telling, but whatever the song is, they're unique and as my father might say "a bit out there" when they experiment a bit with their sound. If you're wondering what they've been up to since Twilight, I might suggest Beast Epic from 2017.
Spotify recommended me Birdtalker on one of my mixes, and it was a beautiful discovery. I heard their biggest song "Heavy" and it made me feel so melancholy - and I love when songs do that to me. So far, I would say that their album One is my favorite, so my recommendation would be to start there.
dodie may not be entirely folk all the time, but I include her because the sound is similar and her music is often about storytelling which is so important in folk music. She astounds me with the gentleness of her voice and how much raw emotion she embodies in each of her songs and I can't rave about her enough. Her new album Human is a must-listen.
6. Jade Bird
Women in folk music are so important, and I love Jade Bird because she's a total bada** with her music. It's sort of a blend of folk and Americana - rock, so if you're not as into the softer side of folk, she's someone you should definitely take some time to check out.
7. Atta Boy
I'm not entirely sure if they constitute folk music, maybe it's more of an indie sound, but either way, "Jack and Blow" from Out of Sorts is beautiful and I'd say it deserves to be put on the list. Folk and indie are so similar in their attributes that I'm going to let this one slide its way in.
8. Dead Horses
This indie-folk band has a lot of rich history that led into its creation, full of darkness mixed with the strength to overcome it. It sounds a little bit country-folk if you're into a sound like that - usually country isn't my cup of tea but this one feels different. My Mother the Moon is the album you need to check out.
9. John Paul White
You may remember the name back when he was a part of the band The Civil Wars with Joy Williams, but since the band's breakup, he's taken his career solo and given us the same emotional and beautiful feeling from his incredible voice all the same. If you liked The Civil Wars, you know you'll probably enjoy John Paul White as a soloist, too. The Hurting Kind is his newest album and a key into the haunting solos you know and miss.
10. Joy Williams
Who would I be if I didn't include the other member of The Civil Wars, Joy Williams? She, too, made a solo career out of her band's breakup, and with it created something beautiful with her beautifully haunting voice. Her newest album, Front Porch is emotional and will get you all choked up if you think too much while listening. Give it a listen.
11. The Decemberists
They're not exactly a small band, but I do think I would file them under incredibly underrated. I adore this band with my whole heart and have ever since my eighth grade music teacher introduced them to me (the song that started it all was "The Mariner's Revenge Song"!) Since then, I've been an avid listener and will rave about them forever. Their newest album I'll Be Your Girl is one of my favorites, but if you're looking for old stuff, The Crane Wife is one of the oldest albums I started listening to when I first discovered them.