What makes for a great folk record? More so than most genres (“the riffs, man”; “this beat is sick”) a catch-all qualifier seems harder to grasp. Why does, say, Pink Moon stand so tall over most any other player in its field?

While there are surely plenty of writers about who’d be more willing to stake their reputations on an exhaustive reflection on that very question than I, in my view it's folk's ability to sink its tendrils into the intangible, the unknowable. In that regard, it may have a claim to being the most honest, pure extension of music.

In short, folk is a surprisingly hard nut to crack. What floors us may not be all too removed from what bores us, and the line just as to why can be nigh impossible to trace satisfactorily.

Be that as it may, early 2019 has brought on a folk album for the ages. Rosie Carney, a twenty year old singer from Hampshire, somehow already sounds fully-formed and supremely aware of her sound on the stripped back debut album Bare. The album sounds not unlike having her in the room with you, and as her fears and hopes play out - not without some desperation and melancholy - you can begin to feel nearly a shared consciousness.

No matter how jaded the listener, Bare is certain to tear at your heart, albeit ever-gently, opening perhaps long dormant corridors of feeling within. Whatever we claim, we all harbor all the greatness, and all the weakness (not to mention all the shame) from an entire lifetime, albeit just out of view. We don’t move on, memories simply fade a bit out of view, only to intrude uninvited, seemingly at random.

To listen to Bare is to invite those very feelings in the door, and offer them a chair by the fire. A daunting prospect, perhaps, but Rosie Carney is no masochist. This is pain with a purpose, joy with reserve. Carney may wonder aloud, “When will you comfort me?” on ‘Zoey’, but for the listener, she graciously never leaves that very role. She has fears aplenty, with even the likes of ‘Your Love is Holy’ ending with, “You see me running out of time,” but her ceaseless, tired sense of grace only serves to shield her audience from the same. Even when she nears self-pity with the repeated, “I will always be alone,” refrain of gorgeous highlight ‘7’, she makes one feel at peace with the idea, rather than mired in sorrow.

To allow Bare in for a day is to allow yourself to heal, to open those very nooks and crannies so long ago sealed off in defence of what hope remains from ever-fading youth. As essential as a bastion of untouched emotion may feel in day to day life, Bare is here to flood it, to cleanse it. It is to allow yourself a bit of hope in this ragged world.

Whatever it may be that allows a folk album to stick with you, this writer can’t rightly say, but make no mistake, fitting snugly right alongside the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Julie Byrne, Bare is of the class that just may stick with you for a lifetime.