The Best Folk Music of 2015

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


It’s been a great year for folk music. Here are some of the best albums of 2015.

The Revivalists- “All My Friends”

With a name like The Revivalists, you’d think this septet from New Orleans was mining the sounds of traditional Americana. But on their excellent new album, Men Amongst Mountains, the band instead focuses on classic songcraft, crafting an infectious sound that’s part jam band, part soul group, and all party. The album’s first single, “All My Friends,” is a perfect introduction to the band’s sound, a rambling ode to finding solace in friendship that features some of the band’s tightest musicianship yet. It’s an irresistible track that should have your toes tapping and head nodding along with the band all summer long.

The Lone Bellow- “Then Came the Morning”

The Lone Bellow is an Americana trio from Brooklyn, New York. Their 2013 self-titled debut album peaked at #37 on the Billboard 200 and #13 on the Top Rock Albums chart. The group’s single, “Bleeding Out”, was featured in an episode of the TV show Nashville. The Lone Bellow’s sophomore album, Then Came the Morning, was released in early 2015 to critical acclaim. Paste Magazine called it “a gorgeous album… [that] continues to showcase [The Lone Bellow’s] strengths as songwriters and performers.”

“Then Came the Morning” is the title track from The Lone Bellow’s 2015 album of the same name. The song is a rollicking folk tune with elements of country and gospel. The lyrics are uplifting and optimistic, celebrating the hope that comes with each new day. The song features close harmonies between singer/guitarist Zach Williams and singer/mandolinist Kanene Donehey Pipkin, with harmonies provided by singer/bassist Brian Elmquist.

The Head and the Heart- “All We Ever Knew”

“All We Ever Knew” is a song by American indie folk band The Head and the Heart. It was released on September 10, 2016, as the lead single from their third studio album, Signs of Light.

The song peaked at number one on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart and number ten on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

Elephant Revival- “Petals”

There’s a lot of good music out there, but sometimes you just need something a little bit different. That’s where Elephant Revival comes in. Their song “Petals” is the perfect blend of folk, rock, and Americana, and it’s sure to get your toe tapping.

The band is based out of Nederland, Colorado, and they take their name from the idea that elephants never forget. They formed in 2006, and since then they’ve been captivating audiences with their unique sound.

If you’re looking for something different to add to your music collection, definitely check out Elephant Revival. You won’t be disappointed.

Lake Street Dive- “Side Pony”

“Side Pony” by Lake Street Dive is one of the best folk songs of 2015. The song is upbeat and fun, with a catchy hook that will stay in your head for days. The lyrics are intelligent and clever, and the arrangement is perfect for a summertime road trip. This is a band that knows how to write a great song, and “Side Pony” is one of their best.

Gregory Alan Isakov- “San Luis”

“San Luis” is a hauntingly beautiful song by Gregory Alan Isakov, from his 2015 album The Weatherman. The song is a meditation on memory and loss, set against the backdrop of the San Luis Valley in Colorado. Isakov’s lyrics are evocative and poetic, and his voice is full of melancholy yearning. “San Luis” is a wonderful example of the best folk music of 2015.

The Decemberists- “Make You Better”

The Decemberists are an American indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. The band consists of Colin Meloy (lead vocals, guitar, mandolin), Chris Funk (guitar, multi-instrumentalist), Jenny Conlee (piano, accordion, melodica, tambourine), Nate Query (bass guitar, string bass, upright bass), and John Moen (drums, backing vocals). The band’s musical style encompasses a variety of genres including folk rock

Punch Brothers- “Julep”

There’s something to be said for a good solid wall of sound, and that’s exactly what you get with the latest album from Punch Brothers. “Julep” is a tour de force of contemporary folk music, with the five members of the band playing off of each other in perfect harmony.

The album opens with the title track, a slow burning ballad that sets the tone for the rest of the album. From there, the band moves into more upbeat fare, with tracks like “I Saw a Light” and “Body and Soul” showcasing their impressive musicianship.

But it’s not all serious business for Punch Brothers. They also know how to have a good time, as evidenced by the raucous “My Oh My.” And they close out the album on a high note with the beautiful “No Place Like Home.”

If you’re a fan of folk music, or just good music in general, then you need to check out Punch Brothers’ “Julep.” It’s one of the best albums of 2015, and it’s sure to please fans old and new alike.

I’m With Her- “Game to Lose”

The all-female supergroup I’m With Her release the single “Game to Lose” off their debut album See You Around. The track is a heart-wrenching ballad written by group members Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan about the universal feeling of saying goodbye to a relationship that’s no longer working. The desolate guitar work and gorgeous three-part harmonies drive home the emotional weight of the lyrics, making “Game to Lose” one of the best folk songs of 2015.

The Oh Hellos- “Like the Dawn”

The Oh Hellos are a Texas-based folk band led by siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath. Their music is best described as “a mix of folk, country, rock, and pop.” “Like the Dawn” is the opening track from their 2015 album Dear World.

The song starts with a simple acoustic guitar riff, which is soon joined by hand claps and stomping feet. The rhythm section comes in after a few measures, and the whole band is playing by the time the first verse starts. The vocals are shared between Tyler and Maggie, who trade off lines in close harmony. The chorus features all of the instruments dropping out except for the acoustic guitar, which plays a more complex riff. The last minute of the song builds to a crescendo, with all of the instruments coming back in and playing their hardest.

“Like the Dawn” is a great example of The Oh Hellos’ ability to write catchy Folk-Rock songs. The lyrics are positive and optimistic, while still managing to be grounded in reality. The song is also exceedingly well-produced, with every instrument sounding pristine. It’s one of the highlights of an already excellent album, and it’s sure to get your foot tapping along with the beat.

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