If you’ve ever wondered what the musical love-child of Bon Iver and Bear’s Den would sound like, look no further than Folly and the Hunter. The Canadian indie-folk four-piece hail from Montreal, deemed ‘Canada’s culture capital’ by Monocle magazine, and self-released their debut album Residents in 2011. Since then the band have toured Canada, the US and Europe and totted up an impressive 88,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, where you can find all their albums to date. They were scooped up by Canadian record label Outside Music and went on to release their hauntingly elegant second album Tragic Care which started Folly on its way to becoming the embodiment of a seamless blend of traditional American folk and indie and post-rock, with some echoes of pop. Their latest album, Awake, is the tour de force of the band, having worked with Canadian music guru Howie Beck to perfect the balance between maintaining their roots and working towards a more mature and rounded sound. Originally a trio, the band recently adopted Phil Creamer as a permanent member of the band.
Somehow, Folly and the Hunter have managed to stay clear of tailoring their music to cater to a wider audience. Sure, the music develops throughout their albums, becoming more polished, but the only things that change are the fluidity of the melodies, the eloquence of the lyrics and the variation of songs produced, leaving the humble joy of their music intact. This is evident in their stage presence too; sloping sheepishly onto the stage at Studio 2, the band tune up while the main vocalist and lyricist, Nick Vallee, chats to the crowd like that awkward cousin at the family Christmas party, cracking jokes with delightfully subtle sarcasm and looking anywhere but your eyeline. They begin with a couple of slower songs to ease the 15 or so people in the audience into the somewhat startling intimacy of a gig in what feels like someone’s art deco living room. By the time they reach the delicately uplifting ‘Travelling’ from their new album, people are smiling and nodding to each other, returning to their content recline and premium lager. As someone whose live music experiences are limited to sweaty rooms of indie kids climbing on top of each other in Birmingham’s Institute and moshing festival crowds comprised of manic, inebriated teens with smoke flares, it was overwhelmingly refreshing to be able to sit down with a drink that wasn’t lukewarm and out of a crushed water bottle, and enjoy the music without having to check if I still had both shoes on.
They ran through pretty much the whole of ‘Awake’ before being politely heckled by two avid Canadian fans, sat a few metres from the stage, for their favourite song. Not only have I never seen a band take requests during a gig, I have never seen the front man lean down over his guitar to listen to what the person has to say. Amazingly, the startling lack of pretence in Folly and the Hunter isn’t the most astonishing thing about them; throughout the set, the other two band members, Christopher Fox and Laurie Torres, hopped between instruments like they were born to play both and – on top of that – they’re to thank for the ethereal backing vocals on a lot of the band’s tracks. The trio were an exquisite combination of electric excitement, smiling at each other like they were paying a sold-out show in Madison Square Garden, despite being in a small bar in Liverpool playing to 17 people on a Tuesday night. They finished off the gig with ‘Science’, subdued yet passionate – an apt end to a gig of a similar atmosphere.
You can pick up any of their albums for a reasonable price or find them on Spotify, and stay updated with their twitter (@follyhunter) and Instagram (@fandthehunter) to keep an eye out for upcoming gigs and releases. Whether you need a soundtrack to revision or something to saunter around campus to on a cold morning, these guys are the ones to go to.