I don’t think that I’m alone when I say that when I think of folk music early Bob Dylan is the first thing that crops up in my mind. And though that may sound small minded then so be it. But Dylan comes to mind more so for his famous fuck you to folks at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The English folk quartet Kings Gambit has taken a somewhat different approach to folk music than Dylan did back then. They’ve taken the somewhat staunch folk genre and livened it up a bit. If that sounds like a bit of an oxymoron then you should stop reading this, listen to a few albums by The Pogues and come back when we’re on the same page. Moving on then, on their second album, FolkBeat, King’s Gambit makes the folk genre a ball of clay and molds it as they wish into whatever form they want.
Beginning with the upbeat opener “Die Alone Trying” King’s Gambit infuses an often dire genre with hints of pop and rock and offers a up a song that one can dance to, and not in the traditional grand tradition sense, but something more contemporary. Keeping with the pop sensibility but still staying true to the storytelling roots of folk, “Andrews Song” with its acoustic strums of guitar and orchestral swells of cello, unfolds like a folk novella that bristles with the tradition of the Anglo-Saxon balladry and toe tapping fervor. FolkBeat gains momentum with fast paced “3 Times to The Melody.” Here a mixture of sped up vocal harmonies provided by dueling vocalists Chris Startup and Katie Paton, and healthy dose of cello and harmonica drive “3 Times to the Melody” along into a fast paced and hard to resist tune.
FolkBeat is not without its genres familiar balladries though. “Dressed to White” is a tearfully slow tempo ballad on which King’s Gambit shows they can hold their own amongst their traditional folk contemporaries. The fingerpicked acoustic melodies also shows off the band’s tightness, which is likely due to their rigorous festival touring schedule. For folk music, as fun as it is to listen to, is a genre which is best served live and the instrumental “65 til the Century Ends” which I can only imagine gets the crowd dancing is further proof of this, as I can imagine do the gypsy folk musings “Best Kept Plans.” FolkBeat closes on a high note with the ridiculously infectious harmonica-driven jam session that is “Harmonica Bit.”
FolkBeat does exactly what its name implies, and that is to give a bit of gusto to a genre that is traditionally known for its sallowness. King’s Gambit hasn’t snuffed out the torch of traditional folk, if anything they’ve given it more reason to shine.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook