Women of Folk: A Definitive Guide

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There are so many unappreciated female vocalists and songwriters across all genres. Their talent is often swept under the radar (which is sadly evident in many of the festival line-ups this summer). Some of my all-time favourite female artists are incredible folk writers, so, in light of International Women’s Day, here are a few of my folksy recommendations. 

Julia Jacklin

From her introspective 2016 debut album, ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’, to her acclaimed 2019 ‘Crushing’, Jacklin’s lyrics are searing and her originality strong. Sometimes she’s dark; haunting, sometimes she’s moving and warm. Top of the list because I’m absolutely obsessed with her at the moment. Hopefully she’ll make the trip from Australia for another UK tour soon. 

Song of choice: Leadlight 

Joni Mitchell 

Bit of an older one here, but I can’t write have a female folk list without mentioning Joni. ‘Blue’ is a quintessential folk album. Her ardour, humour, poignancy and skill in song-writing are inarguable.  

Song of choice: A Case of You

Sharon Van Etten 

Sharon Van Etten is at the forefront of the American folk-rock scene. Her brooding voice is moving, her eclectic discography filled with hidden gems. 

Song of choice: Every time the Sun comes Up 

Laura Marling 

British indie songwriter Laura Marling has been building her reputation in the folk scene since 2008. Her work has only become more innovative, whilst her older tracks remain acoustically simple and equally stunning. 

Her current project with Mike Lindsay- ‘Lump’- will be taking the Greenman festival stage this August. With her ever evolving focus, Marling is sure to produce some gorgeous new music soon. 

Song of choice: Wild Fire 

Adrienne Lenker 

In my books, Adrienne Lenker is one of the most craftful song-writers working at the moment. Flitting between her solo projects and her place in band ‘Big Thief’, formed with Buck Meek, Lenker is a musical force to be reckoned with. Her solo work is often soft, sometimes strange, always beautiful. 

Song of choice: Karina 

Phoebe Bridgers 

Bridgers band boygenius- formed with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus- is a gorgeous example of styles of American folk/rock music merging together. Meanwhile, her solo lyrics have the ability to stop you in your tracks, struck with the poetry of her words. Her brand new single ‘Garden Song’ does just that.

Song of choice: Garden Song 

Daughter of Swords

After seeing Alexandra Sauser-Monnig at Hyde Park Book Club last month, I’ve been listening to her debut album Dawnbreaker a lot, and boy is it lovely. 

Song of choice: Shining Women 

Courtney Marie Andrews 

Sincere and bold, Courtney Marie Andrews makes alternative country and folk that resonates. Her honesty resembles Margo Price- country singer with a skill for storytelling- in their quest to tell truth in their song-writing. It’s a takes a vulnerable courage we could all use a little more of, and something that can be admired in all of the women named in this list. 

Song of choice: Honest Life