This week’s Selection, Broken Folk’s debut EP: Seeds.
“Move”, the first track on the EP, starts off like any other folk song. There’s a nice acoustic guitar line with some minimal bass undertones, creating a light, fresh rhythm that is easy to float along with… And then a guy starts rapping. The incredible thing is that it doesn’t feel forced, or out of place, or anything other than perfectly natural. The verse is rapped, then the chorus introduces Broken Folk’s folk/rock vocalist, bringing the song back to a more folky feel, but still using the rapper to back him up. Then the next verse brings the rap to the forefront again. Check “Move” out here.
As much as I am floored by this entire EP, there are two songs that really stand out: track 2, “Paint it Red”, and the title track, “Seeds”.
“Paint it Red” begins with some really folky guitar strumming, leading to the message from the rapper, “Sometimes you just gotta let it go, y’know?” Then a thumping bass drum brings the beat in and the rapper lets go with his flow, laying it down over the hybrid beat of acoustic strumming and thumping bass. As if that weren’t dope enough, Broken Folk brings in a fucking banjo, making the already genre-bending rhythm even folkier. The other vocalist takes over for the chorus again, leading a super-folky romp that would be right at home in a barnyard hoedown with some old dude playing the washboard and spoons. The chorus leads to an incredible breakdown incorporating guitar, banjo, and the ever-thumping bass, finishing out the track with the two singers shouting together, “We’ll make the news, we’ll shut it down, we’ll paint it red!”
“Seeds”, the title track of the EP, is closer to a traditional folk song, as the rapping only comes in on the chorus. It is a beautiful tune, with a really light, sweet guitar line, matched by yearning vocals from the folkalist (just made that word up, but I think it fits nicely). But the true magic of the song is in the transition from the verses to the chorus, and the chorus itself, where the rapper is backed in beautiful harmony by the folkalist. Add to this the sick harmonica line that comes in on the back half of the tune, and the very intimate feel of the final chorus, and you get a truly remarkable song.
While there are a variety of sounds on the album, from “Memories“, a plucky little guitar interlude, to “Noone Else“, a fairly straight up folk song with some interesting punk aspects to the vocals, the predominant theme of Seeds is folk/hiphop. On their noisetrade page Broken Folk describes themselves as “The simplicity, honesty, and musicianship of southern folk music infused with the passion, intensity, and lyricism of underground rap.”
Take a second to think about that: folk-hiphop. Say it out loud, swish it around in your mouth a bit, let it sink in. Chances are you have never heard anything like Broken Folk before, and I would give decent odds that you’ve never even heard of such a genre existing. But it does. It is. They do.
Check out this sweet video of Broken Folk performing live, and get yourself a copy of Seeds from their bandcamp. You’ll have to pony up at least $5, but these guys deserve your money, and the EP is more than worth it. You won’t be disappointed.
That’s all for now folks, see you next time!