'Folk' doesn't mean folk anymore.
The recordings captured by the Lomax brothers, revived in the 1950s and co-opted by hippies has done a flip-turn this decade and come to connote European girls in headbands, backup tribes of costumed hipsters and faux-naïve drawings of heffalumps with antlers. Freak-folk aside, there are still those laboring in its feathery shadow who practice the more classical definition of the term. John Wort Hannam is one of them. Queen's Hotel is a simple album with a timeless shanty-style sound. The problem is, however clean the music and subject matter might be, it's simply not fresh. Whatever verve and connection with the present needed to make folk interesting and relevant is missing here in a swath of sleepy songs of down-and-outs, waitresses and shore men.
On a more twangy note, Hannam's voice has just the right amount of frog-in-his-throat to put him on the contemporary-country side of the spectrum. As stigmatizing as that sentence may seem, it really isn't a bad thing.