Rufus Wainwright’s Folkocracy is a reminder of how different a context is the word folk, when there is that Atlantic Ocean dividing America and Europe. This album feels a very North American version, where, broadly, anything much with an acoustic guitar, and on the softer side of rock, fits the bill, with often a fair old slice of the older social commentators, Seeger, Guthrie et al, chucked in for good measure. In the UK, folk tends more to the trad. arr., in style if not necessarily sacrosanct in content, and of a devoutly Celtic or Anglo hue. Wainwright doesn’t totally ignore any particular aul’ country, but Folkocracy is full of nods, sometimes eccentric, to an early 60’s heyday of Kingston Trios, Peter Paul and Mary and that ilk, if with a few left field lurches into Broadway and Hollywood. At times it is astonishing, in a beguiling way, sometimes bewildering and sometimes just plain odd. But, overall, this album is impressive, if more on the side of to be admired more than loved, with a slew of guests adding their varied (and variable) flavors at several stages along the way.
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