Looking for some sad acoustic folk songs that suit my singing voice.
March 2, 2014 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I can sing in an alto or soprano range and I love to sing with my NOSE

I decided to take a break from classical piano and work on my folk music chops. I fell in love with the movie Inside Llewyn Davis and the music in it.

The type of song I'm looking for has soft guitar strumming and the melody is slow. I like songs where the singer sings in an indulgent, nasal sort of way. I love Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave and the like. I don't mind singing songs originally sung by a guy (i'm a girl).

I love depressing songs about misery and death. But the main thing I'm looking for is that nasally quality of singing because that's what my voice is good for. I mean, Bob Dylan has lots of amazing songs, but I can't imitate his singing style very well. I don't like overly stylized or trendy folk songs that use synth or special effects, really I'm looking for those bare bones unpretentious songs of longing.

Oh, and I can't play anything too complex on the guitar. The type of thing I'm looking for is:

Rufus Wainwright -- One Man Guy (doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a straight girl to sing this, but I love the song)

Oscar Isaac-- Fare Thee Well (Dink's song)

I hope this post makes a modicum of sense.
posted by winterportage to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Try early Joan Baez, especially her self-titled album from 1960.
posted by figgy_finicky at 9:58 AM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

You may already be on it, but have you listened to 'Good Will Hunting' ?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:07 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Madeleine Peyroux's cover of Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars?" Her version has a bunch of other musical things going on but the original version is just acoustic guitar. Both are miserable and a bit nasal.
posted by bcwinters at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and in the Rufus Wainwright family vein, how about Kate and Anna McGarrigle's "Mendocino."
posted by bcwinters at 10:22 AM on March 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Roches' Road to Fairfax County
posted by Wordwoman at 10:31 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Crooked Still, "Captain, Captain", "Undone In Sorrow"

Emmylou Harris, "Deeper Well". A slightly more trad cover by The Wailin' Jennys

The Stray Birds, "My Brother's Hill"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:34 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about some Jeff Mangum/Neutral Milk Hotel?

King of Carrot Flowers
Two Headed Boy Part 2
posted by fancyoats at 10:44 AM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My voice and interested are somewhat similar to yours. I've been taking classes that focus on old music - folk and bluegrass. As a result I've discovered singers like Jean Ritchie.

You might also like The Blackest Crow.
posted by bunderful at 11:34 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Gillian Welch in general, but you might particularly like Tennessee
posted by billiebee at 11:42 AM on March 2, 2014

Jolie Holland and related Be Good Tanyas
Fairport Convention
Victoria Williams and related Giant Sand
Sun Kil Moon
Will Johnson

I could do this all day! If you dig any of this, let me know and I can recommend related artists.
posted by verysleeping at 12:25 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The acoustic version of Marry Me by St Vincent sprung to mind. Not exactly folk but it's a lovely, relatively easy guitar piece. Annie Clark's voice is rather lovely too and is in the range you're looking for. This acoustic version is a bit different from the album version.
posted by sapien at 12:36 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most things by The Decemberists fit folky lady voiced quite well - Red Right Ankle is a particular favourite of mine. You might also get on with certain Bright Eyes songs and with First Aid Kit.
posted by terretu at 2:13 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was thinking some of Uncle Tupelo might fit:
Black Eye
Their cover of Moonshiner.

It might be a bit too fast pace for you, but The Tallest Man on Earth.

When Cat Power is acoustic it strikes me she fits, e.g., Moonshiner again, or Satisfaction.
posted by Rumple at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I, too, came to suggest Tallest Man on Earth, but someone beat me to it. So I'll suggest Alt-J instead.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:32 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm hopeless with music but when I read your description I thought of fado, a type of Portuguese folk music. Every song is about misery, sadness, loneliness, failed love, ... saudade, which in English can be loosely translated to the exact word you chose: yearning.

Fado is supposed to be sung in a small setting - traditionally a restaurant - with no microphone. The singer is usually accompanied by a Portuguese guitar and a classic guitar, maybe a third. Some songs are fast, but there are many slow-tempoed songs that are truly haunting. Portuguese is full of nasal sounds and it comes out in the singing, though there are also a lot of very open sounds. For some favorites, try Amalia Rodrigues, Mariza, Mafalda Amuth and Cristina Branco, and see where the youtube rabbit hole leads you.

Even if it turns out this is outside the scope of what you want to sing, maybe you'll enjoy listening to it, anyway.
posted by whatzit at 12:35 AM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Death is Hanging Over Me by Nikki Sudden
Mr. Somewhere by The Apartments
posted by perhapses at 9:37 AM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is awesome!! Thanks so much. Haven't had the chance to look at everything yet but so far it all looks great.

I can't choose a favourite because everything is good.
posted by winterportage at 3:52 PM on March 3, 2014

Response by poster: Keep it coming . Some great recommendations here. I love St Vincent, and the Stray Birds already. Haven't had the chance to sort through everything yet. . .
posted by winterportage at 7:13 PM on March 4, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks guys! These recommendations are spot-on.

In case anyone is interested I made them into a youtube playlist.
posted by winterportage at 12:19 PM on March 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

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