New Internationalist

The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

Issue 402

A loose coalition of sounds and ideas

New folk might be a term that’s been bandied about ever since Bob Dylan first struck out, if not before, but in the past several years it’s a genre that has come of age. The characteristics of new folk are a loose coalition of sounds and ideas: a fragility of music and lyric, an outsiderness, a permeability to different beats and new modes of production. It’s here where Sierra and Bianca Casady, two half-Cherokee daughters of itinerant parents in the US – and now relocated in Paris – live.

Following two cult albums that established a soundworld in which Bianca’s toy keyboards, kazoos and singsong rap vied with Sierra’s harp, grand piano and operatic vocals, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn is very much the latest instalment in the CocoRosie mythology. With wordy songs ostensibly about vampires, werewolves and goose girls, this is Grimm territory and, as with the sisters’ fellow-new folkies such as Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, there is a tweeness that has to be discarded. But once that is done, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn works its magic. A mood of drowsy melancholy becomes irresistible. Sierra’s soaring vocal on ‘Houses’ is spine-tingling, while Bianca’s slow-starting ‘Werewolf’ assumes, over its five-minute course, the proportion of an epic, with both singer and companion galloping into the sunset and further wildness.

Louise Gray

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