Thursday, April 21, 2011

The 2010 Platinum Vinyl Awards: Best Folk/Folk Rock Album

The time has finally arrived. The nominations are in, the music has been analyzed, and the voting is completed. All that remains is to "hand out" the (still virtual) Award. The award process begins with the Album of The Year Awards, which is divided among the various genres.

Next up is the Folk/Folk Rock category. During the initial eligibility period only five eligible entries were detected, two short of the standard field of seven nominees. Though they were announced in a previous post, by way of review. These were the five final nominees.
  • Caedmon's Call - Raising Up The Dead
  • Carolina Story - When The River Met The Sea
  • Jennifer Knapp - Letting Go
  • Sandra McCracken- In Feast or Fallow
  • Andrew Peterson - Counting Stars
Now, as to the voting process. Going over the entries for the purpose of picking a winner, I discovered that two of the nominees were misclassified. The first was Caedmon's Call. While Raising up the Dead still retains some of the Folk Rock elements that fans love, there is a determined attempt to distance themselves from their beginnings, and the album seems to be best described as Alternative, and maybe Pop. Though the CD has been available as an mp3 since last September, the release of the physical CD on March 22 has given me the chance to punt. I will put it into the mix with 4.25 Emeralds for the 2011 Awards in Pop and Alternative. Counting Stars by Andrew Peterson also was misclassified. While I still maintain that Andrew Peterson is the Paul Simon of Christian Music, Simon was more of a Pop Singer as a solo act, only as a duo with Art Garfunkle was he folk. Such is the case with Andrew Peterson. And. when placed in the Pop category, there were too many other deserving nominees for him to be among the entries. So, in the absence of a Counting Stars Expanded Edition this time, repeat after me "It was an honor just to be nominated."

That left me with three nominees that fit the standard of Folk or Folk Rock, and two of those had the "wow factor" that is necessary to impress the judges and win the inaugural Best Folk/Folk Rock Album of the Year for 2010. To see how this was resolved, stay with me after the jump.
Three contenders, one award, and two entries which really wowed the judging. How to proceed. Providentially, (critics would say conveniently), the two best entries just happened to fit neatly into both halves of the genre, one in Traditional Folk and the other in Folk Rock. So with a decision reminiscent of the Wisdom of Solomon, I have split the award in to (this year only) and awarded two winners.

Best Traditional Folk Album for the Year 2010
  • When The River Met The Sea - Carolina Story
Where do I begin with this album. In a word, "WOW". I was introduced to Carolina Story with a download of Long Way South, which appears on this album as well, but this one is more traditional folk, and the download was more of a folk rock version. That put them on my radar. As the concept of the Platinum Vinyl Awards took shape a second download emerged, also on the album in its present form. That was The Apple, a telling of the story of Adam and Eve and the fall. That cemented it. This was a group on the rise. However as an Indie band the duo of Ben and Emily Roberts (the Husband and Wife duo that is Carolina Story) most likely will pass unnoticed by the masses of CCM listeners. That is their loss, and I hope that this Award will be the first step in reversing that trend. I am not exaggerating when I say that there is not a bad song on this album. While Ben's voice is an asset to the duo, it is Emily's voice that carries Carolina Story. Her deep resonant voice can send a chill up your spine better than anyone (at least in genres tamer than Rock. Amy Lee of Evanescence kind of has it wrapped up there.)

Best Folk Rock Album for the Year 2010
  • Letting Go - Jennifer Knapp 
I think the year that has elapsed since Letting Go was released has let cooler heads prevail, but, that being said, I am prepared for some contrary comments on this one. I think it is undeniable that none of those dissenters will be making their case on the music. When news of a personal nature regarding Miss Knapp surfaced in the media shortly before the release of the CD, the reaction of the Christian Music industry was regrettable, but nonetheless expected. Nearly all of the casualties in Christianity result from friendly fire. Actually, there was one criticism of the music, she used the word hell, as in "Who in the Hell do you think you are" (Inside). The word is all over the Bible, and if you read the KJV, so are a few other choice words that cause polite company to blush.

When the smoke cleared all that was left was the music, and what great music it was. Jen still has got it. Personally, I think it is her best CD to date. I think the friendly fire attack got her dander up, and considering its heritage back in the sixties, folk music seems to thrive with a little anger.

Now as to the music. There are elements of simple folk music, just Jen and her guitar (Fallen, On Love, Mr. Gray, Better Off), and at times, the girl can just down out rock (Inside, Dive In), but for the most part the album is Folk Rock (Want for Nothing, Letting Go, If it made a difference, Stone to the River), and that is how I finally classified it. Congratulations Jen on your Award, and btw, you are also in the running for Comeback of The Year (You've got a great chance, you're the only nominee)

One last time, Ladies, congratulations on your hard earned wins. You are the first Folk/Folk Rock winners in the history of the Platinum Vinyl Awards.