Dead & Born & GrownMerriam-Webster defines folk as "the great proportion of the members of a people that determines the group character and that tends to preserve its characteristic form of civilization and its customs, arts and crafts, legends, traditions, and superstitions from generation to generation." By that notion, the label could really be applied to any style of music, as they all operate within the confines of their own autonomous mythologies, but the best folk music incorporates a true sense of place into its narrative, as evidenced by the languid English urban melancholia of Gravenhurst's Ghost in Daylight and Neil Halstead's Palindrome Hunches, the impossibly authentic-sounding Lion's Roar from country strong Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg (First Aid Kit), and the wide-eyed string band/bluegrass indie folk of American newcomers Trampled by Turtles and Black Prairie.Black Prairie - A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the HeartFirst Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
Gravenhurst - The Ghost in Daylight
Neil Halstead - Palindrome Hunches
Beth Jeans Houghton & the Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
Cathy Jordan - All the Way Home
Bap Kennedy - The Sailor's Revenge
Marry Waterson & Oliver Knight - Hidden
Mary Jane Lamond/Wendy MacIsaac - Seinn
Cate Le Bon - Cyrk
Sam Lee - Ground of Its Own
Karine Polwart - Traces
Punch Brothers - Who's Feeling Young Now?
Mariee Sioux - Gift for the End
The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown
The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now
Trampled by Turtles - Stars and Satellites
The Unthanks - Diversions, Vol. 1: The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons: Li
Chelsea Wolfe - Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs
James Yorkston - I Was a Cat from a Book

Listen to the best tracks from our favorite Folk albums of 2012 in this playlist: