Music of the Forest
September 10, 2010 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Soft, sweet, beautiful, modern, folksy music that you might find sad but would NOT qualify as "depressing"?

Since autumn has come a bit early to my city, I've recently pulled out the Fleet Foxes self-titled album and allowed myself to fall in love with it once again after too many plays last year. While the music is often sad lyrically, I am so enchanted by its beauty that I end up curled up with a mug of hot tea, feeling calm, contemplative, and somehow deeply happy. "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song," for example, is immensely sad but too beautiful to depress me.

Other artists that I enjoy similarly right now are Frida Hyvonen and many of Laura Marling's songs.

I realize that what people find depressing varies, so these are common trends I've noticed about music I like, apart from the sound:

--It tends to include lots of natural imagery (forests, oceans, lakes, rivers, seas, fields, deserts, dew, etc.)
--It often has a somewhat timeless narrative that could conceivably apply just as well to someone in Dark Ages Europe as someone today.
--It is catchier than, say, Sigur Ros, but it is not poppy in a way that even remotely borders on Of Montreal.
--Many of the folk artists from the 60s and 70s (i.e. Bob Dylan) don't really pull me in as closely as a lot of the more modern stuff like the Fleet Foxes. If you can find some that do, though, I will be impressed.

I went through a pretty intense Celtic music phase in my pre-teen years, which has probably influenced some of these preferences.

(Of the obvious ones, I do know and have been through phases with Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine, and The Shins... but these are definitely on the right track.)
posted by aintthattheway to Media & Arts (99 answers total) 133 users marked this as a favorite
Joanna Newsom.


I mean boom like "THERE, problem solved"... it's not another musician suggestion.
posted by telegraph at 1:49 PM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

Coyotes - Don Edwards
posted by null terminated at 1:52 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

They're not straight folk, and they may be an obvious one, but Yo La Tengo is pretty much my go-to bad when it's a sunny summer day and I want to feel perversely sad. "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One" is a good album to start with.
posted by muddgirl at 1:53 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:55 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Long Gone Before Daylight by The Cardigans.
posted by fire&wings at 1:56 PM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: The Wilderness of Manitoba
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:58 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

Kings of Convenience, maybe?

Yo La Tengo, per Muddgirl, is fantastic, though not sure that's what your'e looking for.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:59 PM on September 10, 2010

posted by Señor Pantalones at 2:00 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Basia Bulat might suit your taste. I also had a Celtic phase when I was younger, and a lot of her hammered dulcimer/autoharp/misc. other unusual instruments remind me of that music. She does singer-songwriter folk music, and I think her second (most recent) album is completely charming.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:02 PM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: Eva Cassidy's Fields of Gold.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:02 PM on September 10, 2010

watson twins
joanna newsom
charlie haden family/haden triplets (petra, rachel, and tanya)
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on September 10, 2010

Iron & Wine. This band has not left my mp3 player since I found them (him, really). Start with Sodom, South Georgia and Passing Afternoon on that page. Then move on to Shepherd's Dog.
posted by nevercalm at 2:05 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

A fellow MeFite turned me on to Balmorhea and I've been listening to it a lot lately. Very little in the way of lyrics, but upbeat. This song is one of my favorites. You might also like Songs:Ohia [there's one song downloadable from that page]. I'm also partial to more banjo-y music like The Benders (and Bow Thayer's other projects) and The Mammals. There are also a lot of songs by The Mountain Goats that would fit your description, but also a lot that may not. You can click around the web site and see what you like.

I also have good feelings from Pac NWers Joel RL Phelps and the Downer Trio but that may be slipping too far into melancholy for folks. Warm Springs Night and 3 are two very good albums. Looking at his wikipedia page remings me that Jessie Sykes and Neko Case are also pretty darned wonderful.

Also, I grew up listening to this music, so older bands like Steeleye Span may be something that you like, particularly the pastoral and old-tymey lyrics stuff of Below the Salt. Some people feel that Vashti Bunyan has the same vibe.
posted by jessamyn at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Eliza Carthy: Rolling Sea
posted by maudlin at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2010

I like The Mountain Goats, but they're not always "soft". Even when they're not soft, they tend to always be sweet to be.


Simon Joyner

If you like Fleet Foxes, I'm betting you'll like Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles

Scout Niblett

Cat Power
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2010

Ah crap, I missed your "more inside," sorry.
posted by nevercalm at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2010

Oh god, and I know you said that folk from the 60s and 70s aren't as great for you, but you MUST know of Nick Cave. Absolutely amazing. You'll change your mind.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2010

Woom has a new record you might enjoy (listen to "Backwards Beach" on that page).
posted by theodolite at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2010


Julie Doiron
posted by scarykarrey at 2:10 PM on September 10, 2010

Smog/Bill Callahan

Laura Veirs
posted by Zebtron at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2010

The album "Rabbit Songs" by Hem sounds directly up your alley.
posted by Skot at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Also, see this question. My Turin Brakes recommendation stands.
posted by fire&wings at 2:14 PM on September 10, 2010

Also: Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas.

Watson Twins have had a mention, but Rilo Kiley is also worth a shout.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:14 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

AAAH! Another one I forgot. Leonard Cohen!
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:15 PM on September 10, 2010

It's not new music, but give this a listen, it seems to fit your description.
posted by theodolite at 2:15 PM on September 10, 2010

Mason Jennings

Feist, sometimes
posted by scarykarrey at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2010

Marian Call
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2010

Saw the disclaimer about 60's music, but couldn't not say: Simon and Garfunkel (specifically Kathy's Song) are my favorite, when in an autumn-y/melancholy mood.
posted by bluestocking at 2:18 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Neko Case.
posted by kylej at 2:18 PM on September 10, 2010

Almost forgot to mention Okay.
posted by theodolite at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2010

Girlyman's "Everything's Easy" and "Say Goodbye."

Bree Sharp, "Fool's Gold."

And yeah, Cat Power.

Johnny Cash.
posted by hought20 at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2010

If you don't speak Gaelic, you'll never notice how depressing Mary Jane Lamond's versions of Gaelic traditional songs can be. (Seriously, "Ba ba mo leanabh" is a lullabye. About how the kid's father was murdered by insurgents.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2010

Chris Bathgate
posted by timsteil at 2:24 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

check out Jason Harrod and Ari Hest.
posted by FlyByDay at 2:24 PM on September 10, 2010

Okay, don't make fun of me, but old Rod Stewart hits me just right when I'm in a mood like yours. Case in point: The Faces - "Ooh La La", and the cliche but perfect Maggie May.

Tim Hardin!
posted by scarykarrey at 2:25 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

She & Him!
posted by Syllables at 2:30 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Two lights above the sea, you meant to say Nick Drake--but you got the link to Pink Moon right, and that's all that matters!

Another vintage album that's really worth it is Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert. Solo improvised piano.

Then modern and folksy-country great is Gillian Welch's Time (The Revelator).

I second Leonard Cohen, Grizzly Bear, Devendra Banhardt, Bon Iver, and Beirut. And Joanna Newsom? I second her, third her, fourth her. . . 1 millionth her.
posted by sunnichka at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Unthanks, definitely.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 2:47 PM on September 10, 2010

Innocence Mission
posted by procrastination at 2:52 PM on September 10, 2010

Oh crap! I am the queen of metafilter typos. I did mean Nick Drake. Epic fail! Thanks, Sunnichka!
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:55 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Check out Stephanie Dosen and Marissa Nadler. Albums I would recommend to check out first are Stephanie's Ghosts, Mice, and Vagabonds and Marissa's Songs III: Bird on the Water. Stephanie has a beautiful, warm voice and sweet songs. Marissa's more on the dark side of things, but she also has a beautiful, ethereal voice and I find her songs more fascinating than depressing. I've found that, as a Marissa Nadler fan, I tend to get recommendations for Laura Marling's music a lot, but I don't think they're all that similar.

Specific song recommendations:

Stephanie Dosen: Song of the Maydoves, Blue Paper Lanterns, Sea Mist & Mirrors

Marissa Nadler: Diamond Heart, River of Dirt, Leather Made Shoes

(Sorry, can't look them up on YouTube right now but most of them are probably up there.)
posted by wondermouse at 2:55 PM on September 10, 2010

Ooh yeah and also The Leisure Society and Mumford & Sons.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2010

Belle & Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant and Tiger Milk.

Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of the Bewilderbeast.

Anything by Iron & Wine.

Sufjan Stevens' album Seven Swans and Greetings From M!ch!gan! are my go to autumnal albums.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 3:12 PM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the timely responses, all! Keep 'em coming!

I'm familiar with and enjoy a lot of these, including Joanna Newsom, Bon Iver, Devendra Banhart, Neko Case, Dept. of Eagles, Beirut, the Mountain Goats, Grizzly Bear, Laura Veirs, Feist, and She & Him.

Meg_Murry, you were right on the money with Basia Bulat -- I adore her, but unfortunately have already worn out her last two albums through overplaying.

Excited to check a lot of these out...
posted by aintthattheway at 3:13 PM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: Midlake! Seriously, Midlake is squarely in the zone of what you're looking for. Both their second album, The Trials of Van Occupanther, and their recent album The Courage of Others, are really fantastic.
posted by bepe at 3:15 PM on September 10, 2010

Seconding Mumford & Sons (seriously, really, honestly - they are amazing). Also The Swell Season, Fanfarlo, Josh Ritter, Langhorne Slim, and Noah and the Whale (Laura Marling started out with them).

I run a music blog (linked in my profile) and we focus on independent and unsigned folkies a lot, so you might find something you like there if you page back a bit, but these are some of my favorites here.
posted by mewithoutyou at 3:17 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't know your examples aside from a bit of Fleet Foxes and am not sure where the line between folksy and poppy is, so here are some stabs in the dark. These are songs that seem like they belong in the fade of summer into fall. Maybe that's when I heard them or maybe it's their tone. Not sure. They make me kind of wistful and pensive. Not sad exactly, but something.

Gillian Welch - No One Knows My Name

M83 - Graveyard Girl. Love the soft voice and synthesizer in this one. Also Don't Save Us From The Flames by them.

Keane - Somewhere Only We Know

REM - Nightswimming and Daysleeper

Fiona Apple - Across the Universe (cover)

Smashing Pumpkins - 1979

Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide (cover)

Fleetwood Mac - Bleed To Love Her

Allman Brothers - Little Martha

Drivin' n' Cryin' - Catch The Wind. That's a little happier than I remember.

Jack Logan - Shrunken Head
posted by Askr at 3:22 PM on September 10, 2010

If you like Devendra Banhart, you might like Vetiver.
posted by mckenney at 3:30 PM on September 10, 2010

A while back iTunes posted the song Young Friend by Brooke Waggoner as a free download, and it gives me the feeling you describe.
posted by sigmagalator at 3:30 PM on September 10, 2010

I went through a pretty intense Celtic music phase in my pre-teen years, which has probably influenced some of these preferences.

You might check out Alasdair Roberts, who sounds to me like a cross between Devendra Banhart and 60s/70s-revival-style Scottish folk music. (Apparently he's on the same label as Joanna Newsom, if that helps triangulate the sound.)

Here's his take on The Demon Lover, which gives me chills. Hazel Forks is another good one, though less folk-y. (More like Devendra Banhart meets Fairport Convention, maybe?) I can't find a proper free version online of his Lord Gregory, which is my favorite track of his, but if you're in a mood to buy or torrent something, start there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2010

I think this Rogue Wave album fits your description. It's soulful but somehow catchy. Also if you haven't already, check out a lot of the artists on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
posted by goodnight moon at 4:03 PM on September 10, 2010

Blind Pilot
posted by tomtheblackbear at 4:03 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll second Hem, particularly 'Rabbit Songs'.

While more classical than folk, and instrumental, try Roger Eno. His music is spartan and beautiful, with same sort of bucolic ambience as Fleet Foxes.

For some reason, all the above artists remind me of rural New England.
posted by elendil71 at 4:22 PM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: Alela Diane - Dry Grass & Shadows
posted by colfax at 4:29 PM on September 10, 2010

I have to second the Hem Rabbit Songs recommendation. I've had that album since around 2002, and I still consider it one of my favorites. If you're not already familiar with them, you probably heard their song "Half Acre" in a life insurance commercial last year. It is so damn beautiful.. "When I Was Drinking".... augh!!! The whole album is great, but it's apparently rather obscure because I can't find most of my favorite songs by them on YouTube. Anyway, I recommend that you buy it and then drive all the way up the New York State thruway.

And on the male vocal front, you may also enjoy Pure Horsehair. Their Aubade album is good.
posted by wondermouse at 4:31 PM on September 10, 2010

Did not expect to see Bathgate mentioned!

If you like Chris Bathgate you're going to want to check out other Michigan folksters, like Ypsilanti's Matt Jones who writes some of the most beautiful folk songs I've ever heard. He's built like a line backer and has the voice of an angel.

Also Micah and Andrea from Breathe Owl Breathe make music that hits every one of your points. I guess they just recorded at Daytrotter. They put on an incredible show and write music that makes you happy to be alive.
posted by grizzly at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2010

If you like Basia Bulat, you'll probably like Great Lake Swimmers, who are also Canadian and toured with her a while back. I really like their album Bodies and Minds.

Also, yet another Canadian, Kaya Fraser, who has a beautiful folksy, sometimes jazz, sound. (Full disclosure: she's a friend of mine, but seriously she's super-talented.)
posted by pised at 4:37 PM on September 10, 2010

Don't be alarmed by my fields and my forests: Watching and Waiting by The Moody Blues.
posted by ovvl at 4:51 PM on September 10, 2010

Thomas Dybdahl
posted by bricoleur at 5:00 PM on September 10, 2010

I highly recommend:

The Acorn
Strand of Oaks
posted by otolith at 5:12 PM on September 10, 2010

Bosque Brown
posted by John Cohen at 5:15 PM on September 10, 2010

I'll third Mumford and Sons and also suggest Elvis Perkins.
posted by lagreen at 5:17 PM on September 10, 2010

This is a fantastic question! I love this type of music and I'm excited to give a listen to some new folks.

Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire, and Julie Doiron in general. (on preview, nthing Julie Doiron)

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is pretty great on his own as well.


& nthing Vetiver (they collaborate with Devendra Banhart on occasion)

Also nthing Kings of Convenience
posted by SugarAndSass at 6:02 PM on September 10, 2010

Best answer: J Tillman is one of the Foxes doing some solo stuff. A bit sparser than Fleet Foxes, but still absolutely gorgeous.

Also, lots of Blitzen Trapper - especially Furr. Maybe the Great lake Swimmers?
posted by celerity at 6:10 PM on September 10, 2010

Nico -- when she sings "These Days" it gives me exactly the feeling you're talking about.

I'll also put in a vote for the Long Winters.
posted by missjenny at 6:11 PM on September 10, 2010

How about,
Ingrid Michaelson?

or perhaps...
Regina Spektor
Sarah Bareilles

Dunno if some might consider them more mainstream than folksy but, well, I'm a fan.
posted by petitemom at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2010

When I hear Sun Kil Moon, I think about movement - through the city, into the wide open world... I listen a lot when on the Metro. Ghosts of the Great Highway is a spectacular album. Try Carry Me Ohio or Four Fingered Fisherman.

Also, not quite folksy, but as far as 'soft, sweet, sad, and not too depressing' goes, I would HIGHLY recommend The National.

If you don't see anything on MeFi that fits the bill, look to TasteKid, which will make suggestions for new music that you might not have heard of, based on the songs that you like.
posted by genekelly'srollerskates at 7:29 PM on September 10, 2010

Ken Reaume - Four Horses; also Canadian, intense bedroom folk in the same vein as Nick Drake and Elliott Smith.
posted by scruss at 7:48 PM on September 10, 2010

Response by poster: Excellent. Bowerbirds and Great Lake Swimmers are two more bands I've recently been really getting into. In fact, "Your Rocky Spine" is one of my very favorite songs from the entire last year. Blitzen Trapper's "Furr" is right up my alley, too.

Also love Midlake (at least, their first album) and Ingrid Michaelson... "Winter Song" is a recent discovery that qualifies well.

So glad to have such a long list to explore!
posted by aintthattheway at 8:04 PM on September 10, 2010

Hey dude, good music taste.

Tunng's Woodcat

Also, HUGE HUGE second to Tallest Man on Earth. Check out King of Spain, The Gardner, and The Wild Hunt.

Couples by Meric Long (I like his solo stuff more than The Dodos, but I seem to be in the minority and I'm shocked, shocked, they haven't been mentioned yet).

Chorus Underground
by The Great Lake Swimmers are pretty sweet.

I am a big fan of Mumford & Sons, though some of their stuff gets too serious for me when I'm in the mood for sunny indie-folk. I like Banjolin Song and Hold On to What You Believe.

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band's Sausalito and NYC-Gone, Gone are fun.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:05 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Totally forgot my favorite of all these bands: Horse Feathers, my friend. Horse Feathers. They're so fucking good that I won't even put an asterisk in my swear word.

Working Poor is so, so good. Also check out Starving Robins, Belly of June, Heathen's Kiss, and basically anything they've ever done.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:10 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree about Marissa Nadler, who is excellent. The song that got me hooked was River of Dirt.

Edith Frost: sorry, can't find her on Youtube, but hunt down "True," "Merry-Go-Round," or "Albany Blues."
Lambchop: Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr., Ohio.
Jim O'Rourke: Halfway to a Threeway (a really cozy, comforting little EP, until you start listening to the lyrics).
Palace Songs: Hope EP (try Agnes, Queen of Sorrow)—forget Bonnie "Prince" Billy; this is Will Oldham's best record.
posted by cirripede at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2010

Well, it's from the 60s/70s, but sounds timeless--Urge for Going by Joni Mitchell is a beautiful autumn song, with natural imagery you might like.
posted by martianna at 8:39 PM on September 10, 2010

This may be too girly-folk but Dar Williams. Sad but not depressing is exactly how I think of her music. Her collaboration with Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplanski called Cry Cry Cry might be interesting to you too.

Other than that, I totally agree with mew.
posted by maryr at 8:45 PM on September 10, 2010

Not familiar with all of the above, so some of these might be way off, but possibly worth a try (?) :
Mouth Music and/or Talitha MacKenzie
Marta Sebestyen
Laura Love
posted by littlecatfeet at 9:10 PM on September 10, 2010

I am constantly recommending A.J. Roach, and I think you will really like him.

For example:

A.J. Roach - Streets of Omaha

A.J. Roach - Scott County -- I think this one will suit you quite well.

(Also Neko Case as mentioned above.)
posted by librarina at 9:33 PM on September 10, 2010

Bonnie Raitt - Dimming of the Day
posted by klanawa at 10:12 PM on September 10, 2010

Really? Has no one suggested Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros?
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 3:14 AM on September 11, 2010

Kris Delmhorst may be one that may not have crossed your radar screen.
posted by drlith at 5:45 AM on September 11, 2010

Mountain man - girl group from Vermont.

Their album Made by Harbour is searingly lovely - ageless close harmonies with more nature than you can shake a gnarled stick at. More listens on YouTube.
posted by freya_lamb at 6:09 AM on September 11, 2010

I heard Where No One Knows Me by Jann Arden on CBC just yesterday for the first time in ages. It might be right up your alley (or ... err ... forest path.)
posted by maudlin at 6:39 AM on September 11, 2010

Sun Kil Moon's latest- Admiral Fell Promises is wistful and absolutely stunning. Very much in the vein you describe.
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 7:44 AM on September 11, 2010

Humble Tripe.
posted by barnone at 8:58 AM on September 11, 2010

Wonderful question, nicely describes my own preferences, so I'm surprised (and delighted) to be unfamiliar with most of the suggested music, but happy to be able to offer an alternate path, that may also suit, or fill in some gaps at least.

I guess it might be called modern blue-grass and its folk roots, but all I really know is that I discovered a ton of great stuff by creating a Pandora station for the band Nickle Creek, who's song Out of the Woods is for me one perfect single answer to your quest.
Just a few thrillingly melancholic favorites I've discovered via that station include:
Kate Rusby
The Wailin Jennys
Alison Krauss

And then, despite your 70s comment, I can't refrain from tossing in the incomparable 1974 album Veedon Fleece, which still seems to me the essence of gloriously sad modern folk music.
posted by dpcoffin at 10:29 AM on September 11, 2010

Recent discoveries:

Roy Paymon
Sea Oleena (sounds a little like Mum)
Levek (see also: his excellent Beach House cover with Emily Reo)


Sun Kil Moon/Mark Kozelek/Red House Painters
Marissa Nadler
Alela Diane


Richard Buckner
Nina Nastasia
Hank Dogs
Sera Cahoone
The Black Atlantic
Fionn Regan
Sam Amidon
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Benoit Pioulard
Chris & Thomas
Peter & The Wolf
posted by quarked at 12:16 PM on September 11, 2010

Peggy Honeywell.

I don't know her all that well but I just began listening and I am hooked. So far my favorite is actually "Humms" from her 'Faint Humms' album, but it is wordless.

You can listen to her here:
posted by ohsnapdragon at 12:35 PM on September 11, 2010

It's already been mentioned, but as I read your question, Balmorhea instantly came into my mind.
posted by fizzix at 1:07 PM on September 11, 2010

I came in to suggest Colm Mac Con Iamaire's "Hare's Corner" and was delighted to see someone already had. So this is me, seconding Greg Nog's emotion.
posted by shannonm at 9:45 PM on September 11, 2010

I know the exact feeling you're describing - an almost sadly-wistful hopefulness that is somehow comforting. Songs that immediately come to mind that evoke that feeling in me are:

"I Love the Rain the Most" by Joe Purdy
"KC" by Matt Pond PA
"Waltz #2" by Elliot Smith
"Josephine" by Teitur
"World Spins Madly On" by The Weepies
"Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" by Amos Lee
"No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses
"Falling Slowly" from the soundtrack to the movie Once

I intentionally only included one song from each artist, but I think the majority of the entirety of the catalogs of these artists share that same vibe you're looking for.

And I know the question is about more folksy music, but the song "Swallowed" by Bush has always given me this feeling, since the very first time I heard it as a tot in '96. :)
posted by jitterbug perfume at 1:32 AM on September 12, 2010

Caroline Herring. Here's her myspace page -- check out the song "Midnight on the Water." Here's a recent song of hers performed live.
posted by spiderskull at 1:53 AM on September 12, 2010

Three Canadian artists to try out, in order of (maybe) decreasing poppiness:
Tricot Machine
Coeur de Pirate
Joel Plaskett, especially his latest triple album, Three, which is better for listening to all at once than it is for single songs.
posted by Acari at 4:19 PM on September 13, 2010

Neil Halstead -- Sleeping on Roads (one example song)
posted by salvia at 9:25 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, seconding Nick Drake, Pink Moon
posted by salvia at 9:27 PM on September 13, 2010

Quick Said the Bird was playing at a local venue in Indianapolis and I immediately fell in love with them. You can get a few songs for free on the band's website. Here's a video of one of their recent performances in a random alley.
posted by sciencemandan at 9:36 AM on September 14, 2010

2nding Alela Diane. I love Marisa Nadler too, but most of her songs do qualify as depressing. You might also enjoy Emily Loizeau.

A few compilations featuring this sort of music: Golden Apple of The Sun and Leaves of Life.
posted by melissam at 3:25 PM on September 14, 2010

Noah & the Whale - The First Days of Spring ... a beautiful song that fulfills for me everything you described

Chad VanGaalen - Willow Tree

Deyarmond Edison (the band Justin Vernon was in before Bon Iver) - First Impression and The Lake

Black Mountain - Stay Free
posted by amillionbillion at 9:57 AM on October 2, 2010

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