Old friend looking for acoustic folk inspired music

So an old friend recently posted this query on his Facebook account. Any suggestions for this eloquent fellow?

" Really in the mood for some new, smart, beautifully written, acoustic folk inspired music from someone with a good set of pipes. A mash-up of Kelly Joe Phelps, The Wailin' Jennys, Harry Manx, and Shovels & Rope would be perfect. Does said lusciousness exist? Hit me with your rhythm stick. Thanks"
Check out the "Trans Atlantic Sessions" series of DVDs. Also, Sarah Jarosz "Build Me Up From Bones" album.
Yes,have him go to Pandora or Spotify & get a free Basic account.From there simply enter one song or band or even "acoustic folk" & EVERY group with a similar style will be played.I’ve discovered 20 + artists I never would have known existed if it weren’t for Pandora.
I would check out Carrie Newcomer some folk a little country and a small bit of pop with a great voice.
yes Carrie Newcomer.  She is a friend of mine from B'ton.  Also Greg Brown, Bill Morrisey, Ellis Paul,
Rare but super cool project of Mark Knophler Nottinghillbillies on CD or vinyl. Superb sound too.
Check out folkalley.com, a 24/7 non commercial streaming station.  

The Civil Wars , Baton Hollow from 2011
The first couple of albums by Iris Dement. Kinda Folk, kinda Country, kinda Bluegrass, way more than kinda great!
I'm listening to these lately:

Barton Carroll "Avery County, I'm Bound To You"
Rhiannon Giddens "Tomorrow Is My Turn"
Ryley Walker "Primrose Green", "all kinds of you"

...I did just listen to, Dylan, "Time Out Of Mind".
Not recent but would likely be new to him/her.  Stan Rogers was a wonderful contemporary singer/song writer from Canada.  He released several albums and those I have offer very good sound quality.  Too bad he was lost in a commercial airline crash some years ago.

Also old, but new to those not yet familiar :-).....The British folk-baroque of the '60s and '70s.  Fairport Convention and Pentangle are particularly great because the guitar players (Richard Thompson in FC and Bert Jansch with John Renbourn in Pentangle) are real virtuosos.
I will 2nd;
The Civil Wars
Avett Brothers
Milk Carton Kids
Rihannon Giddens/Carolina Chocolate Drops
Hiss Golden Messenger: "Poor Moon" (2012); "Bad Debt" (2014)

Dave Rawlings Machine: "A Friend of a Friend" (2009); "Nashville Obsolete" (2015)
One of my "new favorites" is Antje Duvekot, especially her Live from all over the place CD.  Matraca Berg is a killer songwriter with an angel's voice and a good sense of humor, (Honey, your husband's cheatin' on us).  Also, Hank's granddaughter, Holly Williams. 
One disc I can highly recommend (and that I've been using as a reference for the past year or so) is "The Elizabethan Session" album produced in 2014. This is a recording of 13 songs from 8 different current UK folk artists all inspired by the times of Queen Elizabeth I. There are a number of standout songs and performances and this is a good introduction to the work of all of these artists, in addition the album is very well recorded in a period house with great sense of space on many of the tracks


Marc Carroll "Stone Beads & Silver"
John Moreland "In The Throes", "Earthbound Blues"
Eric Bachman of  Archers of Loaf & here Crooked Fingers, "Breaks In The Armor". While not normally classified as "folk", I think this lp is.
Classifying artists into specific genres is really hard these days...
..a couple more..

I think it's safe to qualify Calexico as folk.,  you will not find a much better group musicians than what make up this band.

Tift Merritt, I saw her on the Traveling Alone tour. I believe John Convertino was on drums (Calexico), and the pedal steel player, the name is escaping me right now, however, I found it hard to keep my attention on Tift, because of the "ease" in which these two musicians excelled in their craft!

Tift is so relaxed and comfortable live, isn't she Slaw? Saw her at the Troubadour opening for Lucinda---good show!

One guy who "went" Folk after being in a Power Pop/Garage Rock band I liked a lot (The Plimsouls) is Peter Case. T-Bone Burnett produced his early albums, but I find him a little too self-conscious and deliberate, if you know what I mean. I feel the same way about Gillian Welch, though I acknowledge her talent.

Mary Gauthier can be considered Folk, and she's really something. Very personal, yet universal. I like her a lot.

I came across Milk Carton Kids when NPR played some music during an evening session. They remind me of Simon Garfunkel. Very good music. I am looking more into older folk like Joan Baez, etc. This genre is fairly new to me. I also liked Hatful Of Rain that I picked up recently.
Tift Merrit is a real gem, but I have to admit, I was a "UGE" fan of the period when she performed with the band featured on the Home is Loud album. Saw them at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. Not the best acoustics, but what a great combination of rockin’ out and ballads. She came out w her band and they had the lights up and after they turned them down she observed that it was "a little sexier, a little more rock and roll" and tore up the place.
None mentioned Doc Watson even folks from North Carolina, but I will.
He's a true spirit and sole of blue grass and great finger picker.

The line between Folk, Hillbilly, and Bluegrass is not real clear. It's hard to know what someone else is thinking of when they say Folk. At one time it even included Rev. Gary Davis, Leadbelly, and Mississippi John Hurt.
John Hartford.  The man was magical.

Check out two concert movies inspired by two Coen Bros. films--"Down from the Mountain" (O Brother, Where Art thou) and "Another Day, Another Time" (Inside Llewyn Davis).  Lots of possibilities therein.
I must respectfully, but emphatically, disagree that a group like Calexico, with a synth, a drum kit and contemporary lyrics, is in any sense "folk." They are without a doubt damn good, but if what they are playing is "folk," then anything is "folk." Nor are contemporary singer/songwriters "folk." The list of singer/songwriters who frequently call themselves "folk," but aren’t, is endless. The aforementioned Antje Duvekot, Lucinda Williams, Ani DeFranco, Mary Gauthier, The Avett Brothers, The Stray Birds and on and on and forever. Many are VERY good at what the do (and I’ve seen/heard most of them in concert), but what they do is in no rational sense "folk." (The Birds are "folk" only occasionally these days...) If these people are folk performers, then so is Billy Joel, who is also an itinerant troubadour playing an acoustic instrument and singing songs of his own composition about contemporary, mostly love, concerns. If someone is singing heartfelt pages from their diary, they simply aren’t "folk."

I’ll freely admit to being a curmudgeon concerning the much debated question of what is folk music. The point, however, is not to be dyspeptic, but if the term "folk" is to have any utility at all, it has to have some fairly specific meaning. For me, "folk" means that someone’s music has a significant and identifiable connection to a tradition older or broader than the performer him/herself. After having been deeply involved in the production, promotion and personal enjoyment of "folk music" for well over 40 years, it’s an important issue for me.

This is because misapplying the term "folk" has lead to broad confusion in the public’s mind between authentic tradition-rooted folk music and contemporary singer/songwriters. This in turn has made it difficult for most people to appreciate the profound distinction between the two. It has made it likewise difficult to communicate and promote one kind of music or another to an audience. For example, should a show by Ani DeFranco, "The Little Folksinger" who has never in my experience performed an authentic folksong, and I’ve seen her perform and known her personally for 26 years now, be promoted as the same thing and to the same audience as a performance of English folk ballads by Martin Carthy? No. The term "folk music" should be reserved for those performers whose music has some direct and identifiable link to a tradition older than the performer(s) themselves.

I could go on, I’m afraid, but let me re-emphasize that I appreciate and enjoy music of many genres, including at least the best of the contemporary singer/songwriters. I’m not dissing them in the least. But the lesser ones can be embarrassingly bad and, worse, they are commonly a weedy bunch that will promote themselves aggressively, too often as "folk." This in turn results both in "folk music" getting and maintaining a bad rep, and wonderful and authentic folk performers, who are typically much less assertive, getting sidelined or overlooked. The musical genres aren’t at all the same and shouldn’t be called by the same name.

OK, now that I’ve left a bad smell, to maybe sweeten things up let me suggest a few exceptional folk recordings that I’ve enjoyed over the years:

Number one, without question or rival: "Silly Sisters" by Maddy Prior and June Tabor. A 40 year old recording of very traditional tunes with spectacular modern production. I’ve listened to it more times over the years than any other.

For that matter, almost anything by Steeleye Span.

Old-time "Americana": anything by The Highwoods Stringband.
Beautiful voices, not! But OMG!

As for some [not altogether] new, smart, beautifully written [predominantly trad.], acoustic folk inspired music from someone with a good set of pipes, try:

The Poozies
https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=The Poozies

Eddi Reader
https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Eddi Reader

Connie Dover
https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Connie Dover

Uncle Earl deserves mention!:
https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Uncle Earl

If that’s not enough, under the rubric "World Music" there’s Madredeus:
Teresa Salgueiro’s voice will go straight to the center of your soul and camp there. Read some of the reviews.

OK, that’s enough now.
Wow, good one lp2cd! I hereby rescind my Mary Gauthier suggestion, and admit that after considering what you said above agree she should not be considered Folk. But let me point out that the op's request was for suggestions of "acoustic Folk inspired music". That sets a far lower bar than did you in your definition of the term Folk. But yours is a good one!
Lp2Cd -- so dismissing everything Ani DiFranco ever did would also cover "Fellow Workers"? Presumably an album that meets your definition of folk - songs from the movement for social justice and labour rights would certainly fit strongly in anyones definition of folk?

And by that same token what the hell do I make of "1000 years of popular music" by Richard Thompson -- my point being that the folk canon does evolve and the greatest artists link past and present 😉

But back on topic if you really want to connect to the heart of a rich and flourishing folk tradition then look to the British Isles, the enclosed is a great resource

Ani DiFranco fits the bill as well.
Richard Thompson is from the Folk movement and is an excellent artist.
Happy Listening!
I sometimes have difficulty recognizing specific genres, but I'll try my best here without reaching too far back in time:
Dave Alvin, "Public Domain"
The Be Good Tanyas, "Blue Horse"
Luca Bloom, "Turf"
Bonnie Prince Billie, "Master and Everything"
The Brothers Comatose, (self-titled)
Crooked Still, "Shaken By a Low Sound"
Steve Earle, "I Feel Alright"
Rice, Rice, Hillman, & Pedersen, "Out of the Woodwork"
Jolie Holland, "Escondida"
Hurray For The Riff Raff, "Small Town Heroes"
Iron & Wine, "Creek Drank the Cradle", "Our Endless Numbered Days"
Mark Selby, "and the horse he rode in on"
Gillian Welch, "Revival"

I re-read the op's post. (I just wish we could hear back from the OP's friend as to (his/her) thoughts on our posts?

(( My thought would be when there's no feedback from the OP's  friend, so all of this becomes an exercise in talking amongst ourselves without the original intent (I) had of hopefully getting some feedback and if we are helping at all)). Having said that, the OP's friend wasn't too interested in a strict interpretation of (folk) in his/her request? It was "acoustic folk inspired".

lp2cd:, I do take your point for a strict interpretation of "folk". I listened a little to Eddi Reader that you posted above, it may be "folk inspired" but I believe every one of my recommendations are "folk inspired" as well. I focus more on the song/lyrics and their interpretation/presentation when I try to classify a song.artist into a specific genre. Like I said above, I think classifying specific genres are very hard to do these days. That's just my humble opinion. I would never think of Billy Joel as folk.

bdp24:, I thought Mary Gauthier was a great recommendation! If not, how would others classify her, in one word?

I would recommend a recent record show find, The Stone Ponies "S/T". I believe it would fit in the traditional "folk" genre very well but would not fit into the OP's friend's request who also wanted, "new, smart, beautifully written". It just doesn't fit the "new" portion.
When folk music is mentioned Kate Wolf deserves notice. She had a brief 10 year recording span due to illness and eventually death. Had she survived her talent would have emerged into the mainstream during the "folk" revival of the late 80's-early 90's!
Yep Slaw, Mary Gauthier is one of the best somewhat new artists, imo. But after lp2cd suggested she and some of the other recommendations aren’t really Folk (according to his definition), I could see his point. I guess she could be considered Singer/Songwriter (though that's two words ;-), which includes Folk, whereas not all Singer/Songwriters are folk. lp’s definition is from and of a purist point-of-view, whereas the request was for, as we’ve noted, Folk "inspired" artists/music. Is Mary inspired by Folk? Seems like it to me, but I’m no Folk music authority!
I'm sorry folks, but I'm terrible busy right now. I'll try to respond to some of the comments maybe tomorrow nite or more likely Sunday. Thanks!

You may find this interesting....

An old family friend who has always been interested in my systems throughout the years and has been/is a vinyl lover and an aspiring song-writer/guitarist, recently told me that while he was living in Atlanta years ago, shared a stage with Mary Gauthier on some sort of talent night I suppose. (This is my brush with greatness).

Sometimes it's hard to define genres, but reminds me of the line re: porn-"I can't define it, but I know it when I see it"- if we're willing to expand recommendations to :"it gives me goosebumps or brings a tear to my eyes sometimes", I'd second Milk Carton Kids, Civil Wars, & add: Amber Rubarth, I Draw Slow, Trampled By Turtles, Doc Watson & Dave Grisman, Jerry Garcia & Dave Grisman (Hell, Dave Grisman & just about anybody), Yarn, Sammy Walker, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark-I get many of these are not new, but the 1st time I heard them they were new to me & I really appreciated the folks that showed them to me. The 1st thing I did when I 1st saw this post was go to Spotify & Amazon & listen to the names I hadn't heard before-I can't say I loved them all, can't say as I thought I would, but I thank you all for sharing your recommendations, & I feel like I expanded my horizons a bit-& ain't that what it's all really about?   
Couldn't have said it better!

At this point, I'm holding on to the OP's post for his/her friend's post.

Still, after all of the effort and some conflict, we don't know how or even if, we've had any positive or negative difference regarding this (main) issue)?

I will "unfollow" this discussion now.

Without ANY input from a secondary OP, ... see what I mean?

Slaw, Mary Gauthier on an amateur night?! Ya gotta start somewhere, I guess! Living in L.A. for as many years as I did, I saw some surprising things. One night I arrived at a little club I was playing at in an instrumental trio, and as I loaded in my gear I recognized the drummer then playing on stage: Don Heffington. Don was in Lone Justice, and has played with Victoria Williams, Buddy Miller, and other really high-quality artists. Playing for fifty bucks that night, same as the rest of us ;-).