Pop Life

5 Folk Acts Who Wandered Down the Synth Road

Mandolin enthusiasts Mumford and Sons have been on top of the world the past couple of years, dominating rock-driven radio with a folk sound that apparently touches the hearts of hard-rock bros around the world. Given that they have an apparently winning formula, one wouldn't expect them to change it.

But, being the artists that they are, Mumford and Sons are apparently broadening their horizons on their next record by collaborating with Big Boi and incorporating synthesizers. We'll avoid the suspect pairing of folk music and rapping, and instead focus on the group's use of synths.

How well will that go down? Well, actually it might end up being some of their best work, and here's my proof.

5. The Highwaymen, "Highwayman" It's hard to say if a supergroup featuring Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson could possibly fail. That being said, the record is very much of its time. Within their 1985 No. 1 Country hit, a cover of Jimmy Webb's "Highwayman" that lent its name to both their album and group, was peppered all the synth action you would expect from an '80s recording.

Still, the talent of the group and song's catchiness override any complaints one could have about the arrangement of it. It did hit No. 1 on the country charts, and the album was looked upon very favorably.

4. Paul Simon, "Graceland" Paul Simon reigned in the '60s playing folk music with Art Garfunkel, but his solo career had ended up being a real mixed bag through the '70s. Some of us love "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," others cringe at its very mention.

Either way, Simon shocked the world in 1986 by recording Graceland, a mixture of '80s synths and African pop music. Not only is it still regarded as one of the greatest albums ever recorded, but it became one of Simon's highest-charting records and won the Grammys for Album of the Year and Record of the Year in 1986 and 1987, respectively.

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Corey Deiterman