Folk music, like any other genre has to move on, it’s only healthy after all. But the trick is not to move quickly and radically but to evolve rather than revolt. And for every Fleet Fox or Mumford and the Whale type chancer, bands who claim to be furthering the folk cause but who are really just indie scensters in ironic knit ware, there are acts like Wildwood Kin, Brona McVittie and this fellow. I suppose we are talking neo-folk, new folk, post-folk, alt-folk…whatever….but it is all really just folk isn’t it? Folk moving with the times, folk talking about its own surroundings, its own time and place. Today’s folk.
And that is one of the great things about the music found on Circuit. Sure, it is unashamedly folk, Coupland being a multi-instrumentalist, bending the traditional instruments you might expect to his will, guitar and harp being his chosen musical armaments. But rather than finding inspiration in dusty traditions and finger in the ear folk clubs, he explores the modern world, his world and talks of it as he sees it.
Musically there is also a nowness at work, the chiming guitars and shimmering harp joined by clarinet to add jazz allure to Silhouette or electric guitar bringing a strange rootsy rock edge to Frozen River. So for all the traditional sounds found on the album, there is also the sound of folk music embracing the modern age, the contemporary world and fresh expectations. Circuit is not only a great album, of chilled and skilled music, it is the sound of evolution at work. It works at a suitably slow and respectfully gentle pace but that is what is going on here.