Folk music has always been about time. Did the past matter?, it wonders, by elevating it, will the future erase this form?, it asks, self-possessed with the only answer that could be true. Yes. Of course, folk as we currently conceive of it emerged during an era before electronic music became just as synonymous with the needs and lifestyles of everyday people as acoustic guitars, fiddles and harmonicas were.
To me, folk music can just as easily be electronic, lean into the synths, beats and sampling that artists like Bon Iver and Angel Olsen have willing adopted. Plenty of other artists who started off more acoustic have been drawn toward these influences, too. That doesn’t erase the background elements of folk music, though; a precise, sweet songwriting style remains intact, as do cyclical melodies, and that ever-looming preponderance with time — Justin Vernon’s It might be over soon, or Olsen’s: I’ll be the thing that lives in the dream when it’s gone.