2009: The Year in Folk Music

2009 was a great year for folk music! Here are some of our favorite albums from that year.


2009 was a big year in folk music. New talent emerged, and established artists continued to create great music. Below is a brief overview of some of the year’s most noteworthy folk albums.

2009: The Year in Folk Music
2009 was a big year in folk music. New talent emerged, and established artists continued to create great music. Below is a brief overview of some of the year’s most noteworthy folk albums.

-Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” was one of the year’s surprise hits. The album, which was recorded in a remote cabin in Wisconsin, received critical acclaim for its intimate, personal songs.
-The indie-folk band Fleet Foxes released their highly anticipated debut album, “Fleet Foxes.” The album was praised for its lush arrangements and intricate vocal harmonies.
-Veteran singer-songwriter Bob Dylan released “Together Through Life,” his first album of new material in four years. The album received mixed reviews, but Dylan’s fans were happy to have new music from one of their favorite artists.
-Joan Baez celebrated her 50th anniversary as a recording artist with the release of “Day After Tomorrow.” The album featured new versions of some of her classic songs, as well as several new tracks.
-John Mellencamp released “No Better Than This,” an album recorded using only vintage equipment in historic locations such as Sun Studio and the First African Baptist Church. The album received mixed reviews, but Mellencamp’s fans appreciated his willingness to experiment with his sound.

The Year in Folk Music

2009 was an excellent year for folk music. Here are some of the best albums that were released in 2009.

The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
The2009 album from The Avett Brothers was their major label debut, and it is a stunner. If you are not familiar with The Avett Brothers, they are a folk rock band from North Carolina. This album is full of beautiful melodies, catchy hooks, and emotionally resonate lyrics. It is an instant classic, and one of the best albums of 2009.

Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
Bob Dylan’s 2009 album “Together Through Life” is a return to form for the legendary musician. “Together Through Life” is reminiscent of Dylan’s classic albums from the 1960s, with its plaintive lyrics and simple melodies. It is one of Dylan’s best albums in recent years, and one of the best folk albums of 2009.

Emmylou Harris – Hard Bargain
Emmylou Harris’ “Hard Bargain” is a beautiful album of country-influenced singer-songwriter fare. Harris’ voice has never sounded better, and she is backed by a stellar group of musicians. “Hard Bargain” is one of the best albums of Emmylou Harris’ career, and one of the best folk albums of 2009.

These are just a few of the excellent folk albums that were released in 2009. If you are a fan of folk music, or just looking for some great music to listen to, be sure to check out these albums.

The Best of Folk Music

2009 was an excellent year for folk music, with a wide variety of artists releasing great albums. Here are some of the best of the year.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

This album was a huge critical and commercial success, and it’s easy to see why. The songs are full of energy and emotion, and the band’s performance is dynamic and engaging. It’s a classic example of what good folk music can be.

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

This album is a bit more experimental than Arcade Fire’s, but it’s no less enjoyable. It’s a concept album about love and loss, told through the lens of a folk tale. The result is an intricate, moving work that’s sure to please fans of the genre.

Gillian Welch – The Harrow & the Harvest

Welch is one of the most respected names in folk music, and her latest album is a return to form after a few years away from the studio. It’s a beautiful collection of songs, performed with her usual mastery of the genre.

The Worst of Folk Music

Though it’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment when the year in folk music jumped the shark, we can look back at 2009 and see it as a turning point. That was the year when “new folk” artists like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver crossed over into the mainstream, bringing with them a new wave of younger, hipper fans. As a result, traditionalists felt increasingly left out of the conversation.

And so 2009 also saw the rise of what we might call “anti-folk” music: songs that deliberately eschewed the earnestness and nostalgia of much of the decade’s output in favor of irony and satire. In some cases, these songs were funny; in others, they were angry; but all of them were intended to push back against what their creators saw as a stifling conformity.

Here, then, are ten of the worst (or best, depending on your perspective) examples of anti-folk music from 2009.

The Most Influential Folk Music Artists

2009 was an excellent year for folk music. Many artists released great albums that were both commercial and critical successes. These artists helped to shape the sound of folk music and influence other artists in the genre.

Some of the most influential folk music artists of 2009 include:

-Joan Baez: One of the most iconic figures in folk music, Joan Baez has been making music for over five decades. In 2009, she released her first album in ten years, Day After Tomorrow. The album was widely praised by critics and earned Baez a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album.

-Bob Dylan: Another legend of the folk music world, Bob Dylan released two albums in 2009: Modern Times and Together Through Life. Both albums were commercial and critical successes, with Modern Times debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.

-The Decemberists: The Decemberists released their fifth studio album, The Hazards of Love, in 2009. The album was a departure from the band’s previous work, with a more narrative and epic feel. It was well-received by both fans and critics.

– Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut album was one of the most acclaimed albums of 2009. It earned them Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Folk Album, and they won the latter award. The album helped to spark a revival of interest in folk music.

-Bon Iver: Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was another critical favorite in 2009. The album’s intimate sound and introspective lyrics struck a chord with many listeners and earned Bon Iver a Grammy for Best New Artist.

The Most Important Folk Music Events

2009 was an eventful year in folk music, with new music, new players, and a few tragedies. Here are some of the most important folk music events that happened in 2009.

-The death of Pete Seeger: Folk legend Pete Seeger passed away in January at the age of 94. Seeger was a major figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and ’60s, and his influence is still felt today.
-Bob Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour”: In May, Bob Dylan launched a new radio show on XM Satellite Radio called “Theme Time Radio Hour.” The show features Dylan playing an eclectic mix of music, from country to jazz to rock to blues to folk.
-The death of Michael Jackson: In June, pop icon Michael Jackson passed away at the age of 50. Jackson’s influence on popular music is immeasurable, but he also had a significant impact on the folk world. His 1982 album, “Thriller,” featured the song “Billie Jean,” which was based on a traditional folk ballad.
-The birth of Newport Folk Festival: The Newport Folk Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2009. The festival was founded in 1959 by Pete Seeger and others, and it has become one of the most important events in the folk world.
-The death of Steve Jobs: In October, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56. Jobs was a major force in the digital revolution, and his impact is still being felt today. He also had a significant impact on the music world, as iTunes changed the way people buy and listen to music.

The Best Folk Music Albums

It was a banner year for folk music, with a staggering number of excellent albums released. Here are our picks for the best of the best.

Honorable Mentions:
-The Decemberists, “The Hazards of Love”
-Crooked Still, “Still Crooked”
-Jim Lauderdale, “Could We Get Any Closer?”

The Best Folk Music Albums:
1. Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, “Invisible Nights”
2. Sarah Jarosz, “Song Up in Her Head”
3. The Imagined Village, “Evolution”
4. John Prine, “Crookedokes [EP]”
5. The Swell Season, “Strict Joy”

The Worst Folk Music Albums

The past year in folk music was full of great albums, but as with any genre, there were also a few stinkers. Here are the worst folk music albums of 2009, according to our esteemed panel of experts.

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The Most Anticipated Folk Music Releases

As we move into 2009, there are a number of highly anticipated folk music releases on the horizon. Here are just a few of the albums that Folksingers will be keeping an eye on in the coming year:

The most talked about release is undoubtedly Bob Dylan’s “Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8” (Columbia). This 2 CD set features previously unreleased material recorded between 1989 and 2006, including outtakes from “Oh Mercy” and “Modern Times”, as well as alternate versions of such classics as “Most of the Time” and “Mississippi”. Also included is a live version of ” Highlands”, which clocks in at over 16 minutes! With a wealth of great material to choose from, this is sure to be one of the year’s must-have releases.

Bruce Springsteen is also set to release an album of new material in 2009. Entitled “Working on a Dream” ( Columbia), the album was recorded with The E Street Band during breaks from their recent world tour, and features 12 brand new Springsteen songs. Advance word is that this is a more personal album than 2006’s “Magic”, with Springsteen exploring themes of hope and possibility. With such classic Springsteen albums as “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” to his credit, there are high expectations for this one.

In February, long-time folk favorites Peter, Paul & Mary will release their first album in 10 years. Entitled simply “Lifelines” (Warner Bros.), the album features 14 new recordings, including takes on such classics as Dylan’s “Forever Young” and U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. This will be an eagerly awaited release for fans who have been waiting patiently for new music from this legendary group.

2009 promises to be an exciting year for folk music fans, with new albums from some of the genre’s most beloved artists. Be sure to check back here for reviews and updates as these and other releases make their way into stores!


It was a great year for folk music, with many skilled musicians emerging and releasing excellent albums. We saw a wide variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary, and there was something for everyone. We’re looking forward to seeing what the next year brings!

Keyword: 2009: The Year in Folk Music

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