‘If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song’ announces Llewyn Davis, the titular character in the Coen Brother’s 2013 film, a bittersweet ode to the Greenwich Village folk movement of the 60s. Whilst the movie is entirely fictional in its depiction, Oscar Isaac’s character certainly seems to be onto something with that declarative statement. Folk music has a unique ability to stretch pre-existing boundaries, whilst working under the poignant sphere occupied by previous greats.
Mother Song, the brand new single from Westerman, is a fitting example for this analogy. Taking the delicate, stripped back sensitivity of Nick Drake and Neil Young, the London-based artist manages to enter the musical realms of contemporary artists such as Ben Howard and José González, with a track that feels contemporarily emotive.
In what is a gentle dual-conquest, Westerman’s falsetto and lonely, cyclical guitar take centre stage. ‘I wanna bathe you in the morning light’ he repeats, at his most Drake-like, managing to convince us this assertion is both literal and metaphysical. Whilst this anachronistic air of spirituality leads the track, you can’t help but feel that Mother Song would be just as at home in a sunlit, city centre flat as it would around a midnight campfire.
The track’s bareness affords Westerman’s voice the platform is requires, and rightly so. In what is a faint, gorgeous display of vocal ability, the singer-songwriter takes us on a pensive maunder that manages to be both beautiful and gaunt. The song, in all of its innermostness, is an intimate accomplice for any lone listener – be it in your kitchen, or by your campfire.
Words by Niall Flynn