There are a lot of different categories of folk music. As folk/punk, folk/rock, folk/country, folk/spoken word and all of the different subcategories define themselves they help us find the artists that we know and love. Folk music is powerful, it is something that people sing and play from the bottom of their guts. It’s not some kind of song that’s trendy either. People don’t judge this art form to be something that follows the show-business rule of: “you either have it or you don’t.” They’re looking for your soul. People who listen to folk music want to know if the author has actually lived.


Christopher Gold’s album “Happy Birthday Charlie Chaplain” is best thrown into a subcategory that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist. I’d like to call it “Honesty Folk” because this release is just so powerfully honest. Twelve songs of heartache, isolation and analysis of interpersonal relationships that will leave your ears bleeding in sadness. They don’t bleed because the music sucks, they bleed because you can relate to the tremendous amount of loss and despair that Christopher can convey with his singing as he strums his guitar and mandolin. Occasionally a harmonica jumps onboard for a slightly more upbeat number. I really feel that he just threw the reeds in to give you a break between fighting the urge to drink due to the lyrical content. It took me by surprise, as I was experiencing an existential crisis while listening.


 A song that I really liked on the release, “Under My Thumb”, is an upbeat portrayal about possession of other people. Our singer describes a relationship where no matter what, the subject will always come back. Happily strumming along, Christopher sings “You say this old town is born by the sea, but you can’t swim so you’ll never leave. You’re always gonna be right under my thumb. Right where you belong.”


Storytelling, one of the best parts of folk music, is done very well in this collection. My favorite of those was “Revival”. To me that song seems to discuss the battle of ethics in organized religion and the tremendous conflicts that have occurred with war because of it. It sure made me shut up and listen. That’s good folk music, folks.


Do you want to be a rap performer? Well, I hope you have enough money to keep up with that wardrobe. Do you want to play punk rock? Well, I hope that things like barf and urine don’t bother you too much. How about metal? Be prepared to get aroused when people talk about death and bloodshed. Are you ready to play folk music though? Do you have the backbone to show people how the world looks in the most private parts of your mind? Christopher Gold has that spine. It may frighten you at first, but we can all relate to what he is not afraid to say about life.


Check out Christopher Gold here.


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Ando Ehlers | 
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