The 100 best folk music albums of 2020

It’s that time of year again when, as editor-in-chief, I have the joy of picking my personal favorite. Top 100 Folk Music Albums of 2020 which have been covered on Folk Radio UK by our team over the past year. Of course, like all of the albums featured on Folk Radio UK during 2020 are only available here in the first place because we enjoyed them, so reducing that number to just 100 wasn’t easy. Like some of the personal top 10 review lists that will follow soon, all of them are selected from the 400 plus reviews we’ve featured on Folk Radio UK over the past year.

Inevitably there are a number of releases that I have covered in the news and in my mixes that I would have liked to see in this list but since they weren’t reviewed they are not included … hence one of the reasons we are always looking for other great writers to join our team. The listing does not include EPs, compilations, re-releases or live albums.

While 2020 will be remembered as an exceptional year with our daily lives transformed by the pandemic, it has, on the other hand, been a strong year for music despite the challenges posed by social distancing – complications in recording and production. , as well as the loss of income as the concert economy came to a halt.

Below you will find excerpts from reviews as well as musical links (mainly Bandcamp). So please also consider purchasing albums and supporting featured artists. Click on an album title to read the full review, it will open in a new window for easy return to the list. As in previous years, the albums are listed in alphabetical order and not in order of merit.

And before we start, Folk Radio UK has also been affected by COVID this year due to a sharp drop in advertising revenue, so please support us by making a donation.

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Best Folk Music Albums of 2020

Alasdair Roberts: The Songs of My Childhood

The Songs Of My Boyhood won’t be the only reworked material album recorded in 2020: the nature of the isolation will likely cause a whole slew of musical artists to reexamine their formative years. But the strength of Alasdair Roberts’ songwriting, and the fact that even his early songs have a melodic and lyrical maturity that most musicians will never achieve, means she will definitely be one of the best.

Alex Rex: Andromeda

At some point in the future it will become possible – even necessary – to define Alex Neilson’s place among the best songwriters of this still young century… Andromeda, like its predecessor, is a difficult, brilliant and rewarding snapshot of human turmoil. . This is the final song, Skip the mask, ends with the paradoxical refrain “nothing can heal or destroy you better than time”, and while it is not for us to speculate on how time will treat Neilson, it seems certain that the stature of this formidable album will continue to grow even as the scars it describes begin to heal.

Allysen Callery: Ghost Folk

Ghost folk casts a spellbinding spell that’s impossible to resist, and yet also conjures up subtleties and substance that demand further investigation (you need to give it more than its purely linear time to make its mark). Since then, for all of the changing nature of music, there is an understated and cohesive quality to the sonic world that Allysen inhabits.

Amy LaVere: Blue paint

In fifteen years and four albums, not to mention other long performers in collaboration with others, she has proven to be a leading songwriter with a personal punch and a disarming lightness of touch. Playing his double bass and singing with that sweet honeycomb voice but lived in the streets, his albums are carefully curated affairs, mixing original songs with eclectic but always complementary covers. Once again, Amy LaVere delivered a record that is more than just a selection of songs, it’s a work of art in its own right…. An album that will enrich any music collection, get started now the friends.

Andrew Tuttle: Alexandra

By painting a portrait of his hometown, Andrew Tuttle illustrates his own ability to imbue these places with a sense of wonder and worldliness. What emerges is not just a vision of Alexandra, but a watercolor full of wonder of what comes from the hands of a first-rate acoustic artist.

Aoife Nessa Frances – Land Without Junction

Aoife Nessa Frances tapped into a natural source of expression and made the strongest debut.

This music is meant to alert your inner senses, the silent self that occupies a less defined dream landscape and it works spectacularly if you are in the mood for the trip. The album’s finale is also the title track, over six minutes of breathtaking conclusion. The first lines somehow everything perfectly. “You were with me in my dreams last night, you stayed awhile.”

Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom: Never work

Never Work is an album about how employment and production evolve as capitalism destroys itself. Considering how quickly this change is happening, there is always the danger that a project like this will appear outdated before it goes on sale, especially in light of recent uncertainties. But Kom and Sharratt get around that by creating an imaginary future, and imagination is key here: It’s a future populated by utterly believable characters in incredibly recognizable storylines, but the wealth of artistic and personal detail means these songs are more than mere speculative microfictions. Never Work is by far Kom’s most passionate and political lyrical statement to date. Augmented by Sharratt’s superb and understated vocals and musicality, it shows how relevant protest music is and how much fun it can be.

Bill Callahan: gold record

Where last year was exceptional and sprawling Shepherd in a sheepskin vest was a seemingly close and personal set of songs built around some important changes in Bill callahanhis own life, Gold record sees the master composer researching and creating a set of ten short stories or vignettes. Patient, pensive and meditative, as well as witty, ironic and sharp, these fully realized sketches are Callahan at the top of his art. Oh, how I love this album.

Code of the blue rose: with healings of the greatest depth

With the minimum of fuss, Blue Rose Code has assembled a rich collection of studio recordings that testify to a knack for writing songs the old-fashioned way, where craftsmanship is combined with the experience of life. real, so that each listener can identify a small piece of themselves in the songs, and thus better understand the writer as a result. Each new album has been a progression from the previous one, and ‘With Healings…’ is no different. He should be on everyone’s year-end list without fail.

Bob Dylan: Brutal and Turbulent Ways

Almost 80 years old, Bob Dylan remains a marvel, able to paint sound images that excite the senses, continuing to give life to a medium that does not tend to value longevity. Yet he continues, remaining relevant and true to his vision. Rough And Rowdy Ways can’t just be categorized as a late hit, it’s much more than that. It defies the age, suggesting that we look beyond the easy answers and keep trying to figure out how we relate to an ever-changing world.


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