Artists like Peter Karp and Sue Foley shout out loud and clear that the English language is totally inadequate to describe music in the 21st century. We’re out of meaningful adjectives, out of categories and labels to assign, out of any way to describe music in less than 100 words. Some argue that categories are reductive and limiting, but dammit, if I’m going to try to convince you to listen to new music, I want something better than the worn out words “Americana” or “rootsy” to describe something that doesn’t fit neatly into any one category.
Don’t get me wrong; I love genre bending, and Karp and Foley together offer a masterful example. We simply don’t have the vocabulary to describe them – not without making up new words or adding –esque or –y or –ish to the ends of nouns: Dylan-esque, roots-y, blues-y, country-ish. Clearly, Gracenote’s database has these same limitations, as it identifies the album as “Country & Folk.” Though there are clearly influences from each of these genres, this music couldn’t be called either country or folk any more than a ski slope could be called a Slurpee.