Blog No.41: Feminine Folk: my current four favourite (solo) female folk artists

Looking at (in alphabetical order) Cara Dillon, Julie Fowlis, Ange Hardy and Kate Rusby

BLOG NO.41 – IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ BLOG NO.40/VLOG NO.2 FIRST, CLICK HERE, OR TO WATCH VLOG NO.1 CLICK HERE. If you’d like to read first why I wrote my 65 folk tracks and how all this began, then click HERE. (Blue text are external links, which will open in a new browser window.)

(Those getting this via email won’t be able to see the videos. Clicking on the title of the blog in the email will open it in a tab of your web browser. For those reading on an iPad, the videos will open in a separate browser windows and not play on the Page. Apologies but out of my control. If you see any typos, pease let me know. Thanks.)

Now that I’ve covered the 65 tracks of my excuses for folk music, I thought it time to take a look at some real folk artists. I’m going to start with my current favourite women, going in alphabetical order. I say they’re solo artists, but none – except for Ange Hardy – play solely on their own, and even Ange sometimes plays as a duet.


Irish folk singer, Cara Dillon is someone I’ve only recently come to, but I think my timing couldn’t have been better, as her latest album, Wanderer has had great critical acclaim.

Unfortunately there aren’t any YouTube videos of her singing songs from her new album – although there is one you can see and hear through that previous blue link – so I’ve chosen Cara singing one of my all time favourite folk songs, She Moved Through The Fair, from 2012. Lovely arrangement on this version too.

(It’s a strange and interesting thing about this song that it is almost always sung by women, when it’s actually from the perspective of the man. This isn’t the only folk song where this happens, but it doesn’t occur the other way around.)


Like Cara Dillon, Ange Hardy (bottom left on the top image) is someone I’ve only recently come to too, and that is thanks to SoundCloud and then Twitter, where we made contact. Also, like Cara, I couldn’t have come to Ange’s work at a better time, as her latest album too has had great critical acclaim, and well worth it IMHO; although I had heard her earlier works on SoundCloud, which are also fantastic. She may not be a well known as the other three ladies here, but I have high-hopes that she will be soon.

I do have another reason for thinking Ange is wonderful, and that’s because she played one of my tracks on her FolkFindings internet radio show. (Episode 15, almost at the end.) I was a little surprised at the track she chose – The Peasants Are Revolting – but nevertheless I was honoured and flattered!

The song I’ve chosen is Ange singing the title track from her new album, Bring Back Home. (If you click on that last blue link, you can hear all the track on SoundCloud.) The one thing I love that Ange does, is use a technique used by many a singer-songwriter, but not so much in folk, and that is a loop machine, so she can both harmonise to her own voice or add new instruments; all done live as she performs.

Whilst Ange does sing traditional folk songs, she also writes her own, and in styles that makes them sound as if they were old, traditional pieces.


Scottish Gaelic singer,  Julie Fowlis (bottom right on the top image) is someone I’ve been listening to for quite sometime. Her voice is sublime, and singing in Scottish Gaelic gives her song another nuance. You don’t have to understand what these songs are about to appreciate them.

Julie Fowlis is quite a name in the folk world now, and you will see her hosting folk festivals as well as sitting in for Mark Radcliffe on his BBC Radio 2 show. I always enjoyed her appearances on BBC Alba’s (Gaelic BBC Scotland’s) folk show, Port, as well as others.

The song I’ve chosen is from her 2017 album, alterum, and is called Dh’èirich mi moch madainn cheòthar (I arose early on a misty morning).


I’ve know of this Barnsley lass’s work longer than any of the others. I can’t remember how I came across her, but I was so glad I did. Kate Rusby (top right on the top image) has the gentlest of voices.

Her whole production method and record label is a family affair, with her brother being her sound engineer, her dad the overall boss, her mum the accountant and her sister the publicist and tour organiser. There’s a great documentary about all this you can see HERE.

Since she’s from a once proud coal mining area, like me, she sometimes writes and/or sings about it. For this reason I’ve chosen one of these: My Young Man. I love the use of the colliery brass band sound in this arrangement.

There are, of course, many other wonderful female folk artists out there, but these are the four I happen to be listening to the most at the moment. My next blog about folk folk will probably be about three Northeastern England folkies: two duets, and the third a group of four guys who come together now and again. The duets are The Unthanks and Megson, and the latter The Pitmen Poets, who, like me, are all sons of miners.

Before that, BLOG NO.42/VLOG NO.3 will be Part 11 of My Close Encounters Of The Music Legend Kind; although this is another that will actually be about a legend of the screen, Tippi Hedren (star of Hitchcock’s classic The Birds), and singing with her whilst lion’s roared.


Thanks as always for reading and watching, and please, please, please rate the blog (star rating at the top) or leave a Comment below so I know how I’m doing.



7 thoughts on “Blog No.41: Feminine Folk: my current four favourite (solo) female folk artists

  1. Mak you have given us a Great Gift, this afternoon of glorious sound. You have chosen your favorites well. Each is different yet very enjoyable.

    1. CLARA DILLON AND SOLAS : Clara, has a most beautiful, gentle voice of clarity and emotion, with top notes of an angel. Restful and peaceful in the song ‘She Moved Through The Fair’

    2. ANGE HARDY … sings for us, thanks to Mak’s selection, ‘Bring Back Home’ is sung to my liking for I adore artists who harmonize to their own music. This upbeat melody lends itself to dancing, which is another favorite pastime of my own. I love Ange’s voice. Somehow I’d like to hear her in a film or show on stage..

    3. JULIE FOWLIS : This well known young lady sings in Gaelic, and as Mak said, you do not have to understand the words to enjoy her music. Very nice sound, and wonderfully presented in the style I expected. Intricate scoring and timing add to the delight of the listener. I see why she is so very popular.

    4. KATE RUSBY … is blessed to be with a family who is part of the recording process. Shall have to revisit this documentary Mak shared for us about Kate’s family. In ‘My Young Man’, she sings the first part acapella, which for many is difficult. Yes she is gentle, but also powerful in her delivery and conviction of the meaning in the lyrics. I love her voice and the style of the music instrumentals played behind her as she sings the second part.

    When completed, all I could say, is ‘Wow’!

    Liked by 1 person

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