I’m not sure what to call this new folk movement, primarily because I don’t like the term new folk. I also think it’s less folk and more something else, but I haven’t put my finger on what that something else is yet. The Decemberists are at the fore-front of this sound, and it does seem to have imbued the feel of forest spaces or cold spaces–Pacific Northwest/England. I’m not sure if that’s because these are spaces that traditionally have embraced a turn to nature (Wordsworth, Hemans) or if these are spaces that evoke a feel of movement through space–trains, hikes, guitars, warm sweaters. It’s an amalgamation of these elements to be sure, but there’s also this winding sense of community and communion in this music. A sense of not necessarily activist togetherness, but certainly of tenuous connections and the need to preserve them. It would be easy to dismiss this music as a hipster trend (and the youtube comments do just that), but I don’t think it is. I have a complex relationship with folk music. I like twangy, jangly guitars. I like hand clapping, foot stomping Irish bands. I like music that makes the whole room want to sing along. I’m choir trained, so in my head, all music does come back to a group of voices joined together. I don’t like a certain kind of twee though, and I don’t like maudlin for the sake of being maudlin (I’m looking at you Laura Marling). This song by the Head and the Heart fits for me. Simple, layering of voices, build of sound, and that line that sounds like a train in the distance.