We’ve all heard of the tag ‘New folk’ used to describe the breed of young artists championing a sound that until recently was as unhip as thermal underwear. Now here’s another one; dirty folk. This is not thankfully a description of a bunch of musicians that haven’t seen a bath for a while, but a label provided by a band themselves to describe their music. Dirty folk arrives in the form of a five piece check shirt wearing clan from south London named Billy Vincent.
Fronted by Billy Barratt and David Vincent, Billy Vincent bring passionate rabble rousing sea shanty style gypsy folk rock with big choruses. This is a band who produce a sound that seems to exist in the sodium yellow twilight of the past, where fiddles kiss with loose acoustic guitars, and where words like tavern and bourbon are still commonly used. We doubt if they have ever even heard of Weatherspoons, Primark and Burger King.
There’s a touch of The Levellers in the sound of Billy Vincent that will get you skipping jauntily around the camp fire on The Wayward Fall In Line, and a slight vocal tremble reminiscent of Conor Oberst on The Ballad Of Billy Vincent. Another song, Street Champion, despite its folk backing has a rock pop sentimentality. If it were recorded with a more mainstream sound, for instance, by The Fray, it would probably be a big hit and used as the backing for a cringe inducing U.S television teen drama. Luckily Billy Vincent take a more earthy route of instrumentation that serves them well.
The band are due to release their debut single in March and are likely to be hitting the road for some festival appearances this summer. If it rains at those festivals and the mud makes an appearance, the rise of dirty folk may happen quicker than Billy Vincent could ever imagine.