Looking for good Christian folk music...
November 8, 2013 11:12 AM   Subscribe

So I'm looking for some good Christian folk, bluesy, or bluegrass music and have a few specific styles in mind...

So I began listening to Linda and Richard Thompson, like the folk, like their modern use of traditional instruments and styles and the mix of folk and folk rock. I figure there *must* be some good Christian music with these qualities given southern gospel and all that.

I also just like traditional folk or bluegrass or blues, definitely not opposed to modern music or sounds but personally I skew less pop (Mumford and Sons) and more rock (say... Eddie Vedder?) or straight up traditional folk.

Some other examples of non-Christian folk I like: early Paul Simon, Feist, Donovan, Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, the Mountain Goats--- the latest Decemberists album The King is Dead.

posted by dr handsome to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Does it need to be explicitly 'a Christian band,' or could songs with Christian themes by artists who also do other stuff be ok?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2013

A lot of traditional bluegrass (e.g. the Stanley Brothers) has a lot of Christian material. I'm not a Christian myself, but I really enjoyed Jim Lauderdale and Ralph Stanley's 'I Feel Like Singing Today'.
posted by pipeski at 11:27 AM on November 8, 2013

Also: do you happen to have Spotify? If so, I could make you a playlist, as I enjoy this kind of music.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:27 AM on November 8, 2013

Lots of bluegrass. Try Rhonda Vincent
posted by lex mercatoria at 11:28 AM on November 8, 2013

I'm on Spotify: username's ericeman, not sure if that's the easiest way to find me on there. Name's Eric Maala.

And I should have brought up Sufjan Stevens as someone whose work I admire, I like both explicitly Christian and Christian artists touching on Christian themes. Sufjan is somewhere in the middle and I've gotten a lot out of his music.
posted by dr handsome at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of Bruce Cockburn's music, especially early stuff, has overt or implied Christian themes. "Cry of a Tiny Babe" and "Wondering Where the Lions Are" come to mind.
posted by Danf at 11:43 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check out Ricky Scaggs. He's definitely Christian.

I am not as well versed in your favorite genres so apologies if he's not precisely in your wheelhouse.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2013

Check out Kent Gustavson. The link is to his soundcloud page, but I imagine there's more on Spotify too.
posted by figgy_finicky at 12:03 PM on November 8, 2013

Murry Hammond (of Old 97's) solo album I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm on My Way is lovely. You can check out him out on youtube and here on LastFM. You can listen to Rainbow's End, one of my favorites, on LastFM.
posted by diamondsky at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2013

I'm only acquainted with one album of the Innocence Mission (Birds of My Neighborhood) -- but songs on this album could be something you like. Try: Lakes of Canada (this song has apparently been covered by Sufjan) and You are the Light [note: same YouTube link as Lakes of Canada, but this track begins at ~4:34].
I believe in their earlier years (80s-90s) they were more "alt-rock", but since the 1999 they have been much folkier. Lead singer is a woman, and is sometimes joined on vocals by her husband. I would describe the overall mood as a sad-joyful understated Catholic folk-rock. Some of the lyrics refer to saints, another refers to "the host on your tongue" -- but I wouldn't consider it to be straight-up "Christian music". I would bet that they love Richard and Linda Thompson, Neil Young, and John Denver. One of their albums is called "Christ is My Hope," which apparently is more explicitly religious. That is all I know.
posted by mean square error at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2013

Appreciated guys! I'm going to load each and every one of these onto a playlist and give it a go...

The Innocence Mission, particularly that album is a favorite of mine so if that helps anyone with further suggestions.

I enjoyed the guitar stylings and lyrics on that second Bruce Cockburn track so that might also help.

Thanks again, some really great music here.
posted by dr handsome at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2013

Oh, one more suggestion. Depending on your tolerance for Stephen Simmon's album Drink Ring Jesus is fantastic. Check out Next Stop Redemption. I especially love "The Devil's Work Is Never Done", where the devil is complains about what a tough job & a raw deal he gets. A lot of the songs aren't necessarily what I would expect of Christian music,though, since I don't identify as a Christian, my impression of what to expect may be off a bit. I think this section from the Amazon page sums up the album well:

"Stephen Simmons was raised in the small town of Woodbury, Tennessee. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father held a factory job (In his family, they were the first generation that didn’t work the farm). Humble and soft-spoken, Stephen at first seems to exemplify this rural, Church of Christ upbringing. As a songwriter, however, his vision is much more complex. The songs on his new recording, Drink Ring Jesus, tell stories of country life’s dark side and serve to remind listeners how it feels to stand at the intersection of piety and sin. “When you’re raised in the Church of Christ, if you’re sensitive at all, it leaves you with a lot to struggle with,” says Stephen, who now lives in Nashville. “You grow up to see that there are gaps and holes in what you’ve been taught; there are questions where there are not supposed to be questions. On the one hand, I was exposed to small community religious life, but on the other, I was exposed to my wild-ass relatives. My songs are an attempt to get all those contradictions out.” “At times I feel like I’m being deadly serious, but at the same time being tongue in cheek,” says Stephen, who, last year, was a finalist in Merlefest’s prestigious songwriting competition. He admits that, like Last Call, Drink Ring Jesus is mostly about “lying, cheating and drinking.” That said, his vision of Middle Tennessee’s underbelly is not nearly as dark as it might seem. “These are not so much records about saints, as they are about sinners,” he says. “But I truly believe that there’s salvation out there for everyone. In that sense, I guess they’re songs about all of us."
posted by diamondsky at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2013

Maybe a little too out there for some tastes:

Danielson / Danielson Famile.
Some context.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:43 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

weary boys, Holy Ghost power
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:48 PM on November 8, 2013

Blue Highway have a lot of good Christian Bluegrass. If you're not familiar with Sufjan Stevens, some of his songs are acoustic and Christian. The Avett brothers have some Christian themed songs; I'm not sure exactly where their faith lies.
posted by Candleman at 3:07 PM on November 8, 2013

This is not strictly Christian in nature, but I do find that a lot of the songs on SOMA.FM's Folk Forward station have Christian themes. I would highly suggest that anyone who is interested in Folk music check it out!
posted by Cycloptichorn at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2013

I adore Derek Webb's she must and shall go free, and "crooked deep down" is pretty bluegrassy.
posted by marylucycraft at 5:06 PM on November 8, 2013

While most of his current work isn't overtly Christian or worship, I really like Noah Gundersen.

Doxology/Poor Man's Soul
Jesus, Jesus
Some of my favorites:
Moss on a Rolling Stone
posted by Quack at 6:07 PM on November 8, 2013

David LaMotte It looks like only a small amount of his stuff is on Spotify. His two excellent live albums are available on iTunes: Flying: Live from the Grey Eagle and Good Tar.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:42 AM on November 9, 2013

Audrey Assad, perhaps? You might also like the Rend Collective Experiment, whose You Are My Vision was basically my gateway into Christian folk.

All Sons and Daughters strikes me as having the same kind of sound - of course, caveat being that my age means that I'm unfamiliar with most of your examples, and the stuff I know skews new and pop-y - but it brings me to my next point. Noisetrade is where I've found a lot of Christianish folksy music, for free.
posted by undue influence at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2013

Christian-flavored bluegrass music was going to be my entry into the next MetaFilter mix-swap, so I guess you're the lucky beneficiary instead. I put together a Spotify playlist as well.

All I Left Behind, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris [good example of bluegrass, bad example of Christian bluegrass]
Bible by the Bed, Cadillac Sky
Blind Man Walking, Cadillac Sky
posted by librarylis at 7:02 PM on November 9, 2013

Interrupted! Posting in two parts:

Cruel Willie, Kenny and Amanda Smith Band [also not Christian, exactly]
Dear God, Patsy Cline
Down to the River to Pray, Allison Krauss
Go Rest High on That Mountain, Vince Gill [this leans more to the pop side, but is a fantastic song]
Heaven's Bright Shore, Allison Krauss and Union Station
I Sang Dixie, Dwight Yoakam [Christian-themed but Dwight's not obvious. Also closer to rock than bluegrass]
I Truly Understand That You Love Another Man, Carolina Chocolate Drops [not Christian]
I'll Fly Away, Gillian Welch and Allison Krauss
Jacob's Dream, Allison Krauss
Leaving Eden, Carolina Chocolate Drops
Peace in the Valley, Johnny Cash
Poor Boy's Delight, Infamous Stringdusters [not Christian]
Rise Up Lazarus, Patty Loveless
Sinners Welcome, Cadillac Sky
The Devil's Paintbrush Road, The Wailin' Jennys
Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord), Johnny Cash

More non-Christian ones than I'd realized, but I wanted to expose you to some fantastic bands/singers that may have Christian songs but which I thought maybe the listed songs represented their style better.
posted by librarylis at 7:09 PM on November 9, 2013

« Older Why didn't my limoncello turn cloudy?   |   Thinking of becoming a physician starting at age... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.