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The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

Expanding your music: Folk Edition


For generations, music has served to unite the world through the comfort, inspiration and the community it brings. At Naperville North High School, music has the potential to change the attitudes of students and staff for the better. It’s important to diversify the conversation of music and introduce new genres and styles to all students.

Folk music started as a community for the working class; they’d sing these songs while doing hard labor. The music was brought into the 20th century during troubling work times and they’d gather to sing folk music as a way to cope. An example of when folk music rose in popularity was when the stock market crashed in the 1930s. Since then, folk music has evolved; while musicians still communicate their struggles, they’re more focused on social changes. The part that has not changed is its simplicity of using acoustic instruments to create the signature folk sound.

“Come June” – Mitch Rowland (Bella)

Growing up, I never preferred listening to folk music. I listened to my fair share of “The Lumineers” with friends and “John Prine” with my dad. But when it came to a selection of my favorite genres, folk was never near the top. Now as I am getting older, folk music takes me to another place. A meadow, away from society with plenty of sunshine. This genre continues to be a part of my relaxation routine. 

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The album “Come June” by Mitch Rowland begins on what I imagine a sunny morning. The first track “Bluebells” takes me to a peaceful and undisturbed place. The imagery that this album brings me is indescribable. This is typical for me when listening to folk music. The music is so calming and something I will typically keep playing in the background when studying or reading. The musical aspect of this album is almost muted. Rowland is known for his bass and guitar skills which are displayed in tracks “See The Way You Roll” and “All The Way Back.” This is an optimistic and warm tracklist. When listening, it is clear the influences that went into this album and each track like “Wilco” and “The Black Crowes.” I notice this a lot within folk music and it shows that the impact of other artists is what makes the community, and more importantly the music, so beautiful. 

I did not particularly enjoy listening to this album. In my opinion, it is more seen as something to play in the background but something I would not put on to purposely listen to. It was enjoyable to listen to the first time through but it did feel repetitive and the songs started to blend together. For a debut album, this is insanely good. It is noticeable how Rowland has such a background with music and experience in the industry. The execution was there, it was good, but something I would not come back to in the future.  

If you enjoy the instrumentals from Mitch Rowland, I recommend checking out Charlotte Clark, Boy Bleach and Gracie Moller.

“The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” – Mitski (Sarah)

I found out about Mitski’s “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” through TikTok when the seventh track “My Love Mine All Mine” went viral. Mitski is an artist I love, but I know her for her pop/indie music; I was surprised and intrigued when I found out she released a folk album a month and a half ago. She quotes it as her “most American album.” 

Mitsuki Laycock, better known as Mitski, has been making music since she was 18 and released her first album “Lush” at 21. In 2022, she’d released her sixth studio album “Laurel Hell,” which became her most successful album to date. Then suddenly, a complete genre change. The album was conducted by Drew Erickson and included a 17 person choir, arranged by Mitski. With her key instruments being pedal steel guitars, soft piano, as well as a full orchestra, the album is very comforting while still holding an emotional aspect. 

I was a little anxious about listening to this since I knew its sound completely contradicted her previous albums. While she replaced her typical upbeat instruments with acoustics, she still stayed true to the themes of her previous albums. Mitski is the type of artist whose albums make you want to scream into a pillow and question every aspect of your life. This pattern thankfully remains true in her new release. The lyrics express her exploring the contradictions of love, revealing ugly or uncomfortable emotions. I don’t think this album is very screaming-in-pillow worthy, but definitely will make you question everything. 

I cannot say this is my favorite Mitski project because I’m not huge on folk music. But, this album completely transforms you to a different reality, making you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. It made a great impression on me listening to it and she did an amazing job lyrically as always. 

If you like this Mitski project, I’d recommend giving Clairo, Bôa and Fiona Apple a listen. 

“Atlanta Millionaires Club” – Faye Webster (Maxie)

My blueprint for listening to folk music was Faye Webster. I listened to her back in 2020 but never fully got into her music until recently. With her newfound fame, thanks to TikTok, I am glad that I got back into her unique sound and that others are starting to discover her phenomenal music as well. 

Initially, I didn’t like her album, “Atlanta Millionaires Club.” It was different from what I was used to. I had never really listened to folk music. Ironically, I truly believe “Atlanta Millionaires Club” is still a great introduction to folk music. It has many staple folk sounds with simple acoustics, soft singing and serene lyricism. However, it plays with a lot of pop-like aspects such as groovy bass, interesting chord progressions on the keys and even some strings. It is one of those albums that you are either instantly hooked to or find yourself having to listen to a couple of times before you understand that it is truly a work of art in its own right. 

You might have heard her most popular songs “Kingston” or “Right Side of My Neck” since multiple portions from each song have gone viral on TikTok. Deservedly so in all honesty. They are popular for a reason. They definitely have a more transparent pop sound compared to some of her other songs. These songs are some of my favorites by her for sure, but there’s something about one song on this album that just hits different: “Jonny.” It was something that I truly couldn’t put into words on why it is so captivating. It is probably one of her, if not most, simplest songs on this album. Her relatable lyricism, the horns used in the song and funky bassline blend so perfectly together. Give this song a listen and trust me you would understand why this song is so captivating.

If you find yourself indulging in Faye Webster’s style of music, I recommend giving a listen to Men I Trust, boygenius and Lamp.

If you’re interested, check out our top 3 songs from our featured albums and our favorite folk songs.

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About the Contributors
Bella Nordman
Bella Nordman, Special Projects Editor
Bella Nordman is experiencing mixed emotions about her senior year. She for sure feels splendiferous about taking on the position of Special Projects and Editorials Editor for the year. Bella certainly cannot wait to take on projects that are special and further improve her writing skills. Alongside working for The North Star, Bella is driven to speak for the Naperville North Speech Team and listens to a wide range of boy bands.   
Sarah Knoop
Sarah Knoop, Features Editor
Sarah is celebrating her senior year at Naperville North. She’s excited to be the Features Editor for The North Star this year. She’s also looking forward to graduating the school year a semester early to focus on other academic opportunities. Outside of the newsroom, Sarah enjoys spending time with her close friends and family, working and listening to aggressive rap on full blast in her car.   
Maxie Oasay
Maxie Oasay, Managing Editor
Maxie Oasay is a senior at Naperville North and is thrilled to be writing for The North Star as Managing Editor. She is looking forward to working with the staff and contributing to helping them pursue their journalistic identity as well as pursuing hers. Catch her outside of the newsroom having the time of her life at a concert somewhere, performing with Naperville North’s show choir, speaking for the Speech Team and much more.  

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