Saturday, July 31, 2021

Indie Folk and Country Music

What is the difference between Indie Folk music and Country?

Other than the classic and easily understood "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" response, it's tough to distinguish the key factor that separates a song or an artist into one of these genres. I enjoy listening to both genres, but I instinctively know what each is, which I want to hear, and where to find it. And, I guess I should really acknowledge that this is a discussion of folk vs country, as opposed to simply indie folk, which technically came about in the early 90s, I believe, with the rise of bands like Uncle Tupelo.

So, here's a question:  is it the twang?

The twang is the distinctive factor for my daughter, who is sixteen and has a broad musical interest range, but doesn't listen to country. But when I'm listening to indie folk, I hear her singing along to people like Gregory Allen Isakov or Whitley or Lord Huron. She doesn't have the same response to when I'm listening to Luke Coombs or Brett Eldridge or Scotty McCreery. And, regarding the twang, I think she is on to something with that descriptor. The twang is present not just in the lyrics, but also in how the chords of the songs are played.

I think storytelling has a lot to do with it as well, and in this regard, Luke Coombs is a great example. Country has always thrived with the art of the narrative, and there is always a literalness to the plots and characters. Indie folk and folk, from my experience, is going to be a bit more driven by imagery and metaphor with the lyrics being somewhat more poetic than they are a story.

I don't know if there is a definitive historical and stylistic distinction between the two genres, and the question is not meant to diminish either. It's just a curiosity for me, kind of like my other questions such as:  Why is Nirvana grunge as opposed to punk?

But that's for another day.

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