The Musixmatch Mixtape

Cars and Guitars: those folky vibes that cyclically come back

Mauro di Battista
February 2024
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It is safe to say that the '80s shaped pop music significantly, with a brief interruption in the mid-'90s to early 2000s. Pop has since oscillated between disco, electronic, and synthesized sounds, often revealing folk roots beneath its glittery surface.

This seems to be the intuition that many artists have recently, or we could call it an inner need to strip from the fancy clothes and wear… other fancy clothes, but sandblasts.

I am obviously thinking about Beyoncé’s latest releases: Texas Hold ‘Em, almost four minutes of contagious rhythm and playful banjo, made her the first black woman to top Billboard’s Country Top Charts and mainstreamed an important conversation about black musicians' place within country music.

If you ask me, though, it is with 16 Carriages that Queen Bey is teasing what this so-called Act II (we don’t have the new album’s name yet) will be about: her life, her choices, being a music legend but also a person dealing with her life, and the things she sacrificed for her career. We are talking about a classy, sincere ballad, subtly complex to perform, but of course flawlessly executed.

It is true, Act II was in store for around four years, one of the many proofs this Country-Pop renaissance hasn’t started today, but now is showing its new face. We could make a similar consideration about Kacey Musgraves going back to her roots with Deeper Well, or also Lana Del Rey’s latest announcement about her upcoming Country album, Lazzo. This doesn’t just come after a soulful cover of Take Me Home, Country Roads, but also following her critically acclaimed Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (which already gave us hints about the direction her music was taking).

Being a fan of folk and country music myself, I have been wondering about the reasons behind this much-appreciated new wave, which I believe strongly and voluntarily contrasts with the condensed (and often very well-written) songs we have been listening recently: short, catchy songs with few words, strong hooks, and a contagious instrumental section after the chorus. I can’t help but also think the late ‘90s nostalgia helped folk music rise again into pop - would we ever imagine seeing Tracy Chapman perform Fast Car again with a Millennial songwriter? Behind Luke Combs’ rendition of the track, there is, in my opinion, a huge love for an artist and a song that, even though was released in 1988, shaped the following decade and gave so much to popular music at the time (and even now).

If also Post Malone stripped away the synth and gave so much space to guitars - his latest album Austin is a fresh and melancholic indie-pop work, we have good reasons (and if you ask me, very high hopes) that a new wave of Pop/Folk and Country is coming our way, and it won’t only interest Country radios.

I am bringing my boots back, just in case.

Mauro di Battista
Pragmatic dreamer and lyrics passionate, connected to this world but always with my headphones on and my thoughts in space. In the eight hours per day that I'm in reality, I share, I care, and I communicate with our great community of music lovers.
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