The title Folker gives an apt description of this album – while still in the loose garage vein of Paul Westerberg’s work of the era, with Westerberg playing all the instruments, it’s more acoustic than perhaps anything he’s ever done. Instead of the downbeat vulnerability of Suicaine Gratification, it’s more like an album full of songs like ‘Kiss Me On The Bus’; contemplative but not altogether serious, loosely anchored by Westerberg’s shambling drumming. Yet there’s something extremely likeable about this record – like Come Feel Me Tremble it’s a little light on great songs, hardly surprising given its Westerberg’s fifth release in the space of two years, but it’s more coherent than its predecessor.
The highlight is the pleading ‘Breathe Some New Life’. The two songs dedicated to his father are effective – ‘My Dad’ features the memorable line “My dad sitting in his chair/he’s never seen me play/He gets a kick from the newspaper/when he sees the family name.” Westerberg also throws in thirty second snippets that reiterate the theme of the parent song to good effect. Fulfilling the title, the last lines of Folker are taken from Fairport Convention; the roar of ‘Folk Star’ fading out to Westerberg’s voice and guitar in a brief snippet of ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’.
Folker is an modestly enjoyable record, as agreeably ragged as his best work, but a little cuddlier than usual.