The Southern Fold

The Southern Fold

Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Alternative




"You May Like This"

The Southern Fold – Save Your Soul

Something gothic this way comes.

Hailing from the Deep South East, The Southern Fold duo of Kilkenny-based Emlyn Holden (top right) and Dubliner Laura Hand (top left) serve up a brooding take on Americana that would fit right in on a True Detective soundtrack.

The highly atmospheric black-and-white video by Frieda Freytag adds an ethereal, mysterious layer on top.

The album Bible Fear is released on October 31.

Nick says: Spread the gospel. -

"Reviews By Declan Culliton"

The Southern Fold have been earning quite a reputation on the local live music circuit over the past eighteen months, well justified on the basis of this very impressive six track mini album.

The band is the brainchild of Kilkenny based singer songwriter Emlyn Holden and co-singer Laura Hand. They are joined by recent recruits Joe Maher (The Mariannes) on guitar and Frieda Freytag (Fox Owl Crow) on cello and piano. Recorded at Crossroads Recording in Kilkenny the album features four self writes by Holden, the most powerful being Romance in Morphine and Home From The War, together with two covers (Farther Along by Baxter/Stevens and Ledbetter’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night?).

The shared vocals and harmonies by Holden and Hand are the highlight of the album, no more so than on the aforementioned WWhere Did You Sleep Last Night?.

The Southern Fold are one of an endless number of bands mixing country, folk and blues at present. I get the impression, listening to this album, that they have the potential to make a much more lasting impression than most. Credit must also go to Lorita Preiano for the beautiful cover photograph on the album. - The G-man

"The Southern Fold – ‘A True Ascension From The Wayward Path’ EP"

The Southern Fold:

Emlyn Holden – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Bass
Laura Hand – Vocals
Joe Maher – Electric Guitar, EBow
Frieda Freytag – Cello, Piano

EP Track Listing: 1. Death Country 2. Romance in Morphine 3. Brand New Day 4. Home From The War 5. Not On My Side 6. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

Alternative Folk and Country is how this band describes themselves. After listening to their debut EP for a while now I could easily add Americana and a sprinkling of Blues to the mix also. In its entirety it is a true folk and country depiction.

The six tracks are short stories that carry very experienced messages and lessons thanks to the articulate penmanship and synchronised velvet vocals of Emlyn and Laura. Their coming together was definitely an organic thing and you’ll feel this immediately when you hear the EP. Their poetic lyrical styles, self-expression and the imagery of the lyrics are what makes the EP stand up. Personal journeys, triumphs and trials, unrealised dreams and hopes, love lost and love found, it’s all in there. The raw and solid musical arrangements don’t overpower the dynamic of the two vocalists and what they’re offering us. The balance between the music and vocals is spot on and it’s a very well produced body of work. These tracks are credible enough to be on the soundtrack of any Cohen brothers or Tarantino film. I really appreciate this EP and it’s an impressive and authentic debut from them.

‘Death Country’ is about the paths you choose and that the decisions you make have consequences; the experience of this comes through in the vocals.
‘Romance in Morphine’ is a clever title. The melody of the song has a good pace and is almost lullaby-like, despite the painful subject matter.
‘Brand New Day’ is an upbeat positive take on self-belief; a reflective lyric and a good lesson.
‘Home From The War’ deals with the aftermath of a painful situation and how to move on, it has a sincere melody and the vocals amplify this sincerity as well.
‘Not On My Side’ airs feelings of regrets, opportunities missed and wasted time; an inventive change in the arrangement emphasises this.
‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’ has a serious underlying subject but the question and answer vocal format between Emlyn and Laura give this track a quirky edge. - MusicWand

"Welcome to Ireland, America"

Used to be a time you could tell where a band was from just by listening to the music. There wasn't a band in the UK who could make country sound country or in the US make trad folk sound trad folk. It wasn't the accent necessarily or the instrumentation or anything you could put your finger on, it just was. But somewhere, sometime, the barriers disappeared. All of a sudden Brits started sounding American and Americans started sounding Australian and Brazilians started sounding like they grew up in Boston or New York or maybe Nashville or Austin. Americana should not be allowed to be called Americana anymore, in fact, because Europe and Australia are playing it better than Americans at times.

I mention this because I have been listening to an Irish band calling themselves The Southern Fold and they sound no more Irish than does Stephen Young & The Union or The Minnows, both top-of-the-line outfits from the land of the shamrock, and it is not any kind of Irish music they are playing, though it is plenty enough original. And I wonder when everything changed.

I would assume it changed when the Internet took hold and maybe it was so gradual that you could not put a real date on it. I assume that the passing of music past borders digitally changed listening habits of us all and maybe we have not lost but are losing the old cultures. Like television chipped away at the drawling accents of Southerners in The States and probably did for many of the culture pockets around the world. I knew a guy who worked in Japan for three years and for a couple of years after coming back talked English with the slightest change in his enunciation.
Which meant that the first couple of times I heard A True Ascension From the Wayward Path, I found it lacking anything I could recognize as Irish or even British. In fact, had I heard it blind, I would have said The States without hesitation.

Six songs make my point, each one sounding more Kentucky or California than County Cork or County Donegal, starting with the straight-ahead “Death Country,” the acoustic guitar, Dylan-esque harmonica and basic male/female voices giving no clue as to origin. Which leads into a slower and even more basic “Romance in Morphine,” sounding a lot like something Australia's roots musician Bill Jackson might have written. Then into an upbeat but light “Brand New Day” and after that my favorite song on the mini-album/EP, “Home From the War,” the hook slow and emotional, the song full of meaning beyond just the lyrics, more Josh Ritter or Sam Morrow than anything else I can think of. “Not On My Side” floats over an acoustic guitar/strings road, reflective but somehow positive--- and then rain and thunder which magically fades into an old hymn. Capping it off is a primo cover of Leadbelly's “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” which you may know better as “In the Pines” because most people are too lazy to go beyond the obvious (which in this case is obviously not).

This is pretty much as good as anything America can come up with, so what the hell? Americana it is, and well worth hearing.

And the video above? To really understand the music you should watch and listen to it. There is a story behind the songs. More than one, actually. And they make all the difference. - No Depression

"Album Review The Southern Fold – A true Ascension From the Wayward Path"

Happy New Year. Before I get to the Best of 2016 blog posts, I wanted to post about the Southern Fold’s debut EP. This blog post has been a long time coming. I have had the mini album/E.P since October last year but haven’t got the chance to blog about it. Well now I am getting to correct that mistake.
I blogged about The Southern Fold in March 2016 before they had officially released any tracks. At that stage i featured a number of originals and covers that were featured on a radio show session. With the release of “A True Ascension from The Wayward Path” though I have something physical to write about. The self-released mini album (it’s longer than an EP by my definition) as we will call it, features six beautiful, haunting songs on themes of love , regret and loss.

Featuring the talents of of Emlyn Holden (Guitar, Vocals), Laura Hand (Vocals), Frieda Freytag (Cello & Piano), Joe Maher (Guitar) and Rob Campbell (Cello & Bass), the Southern Fold have with this release clearly set out their stall as true exponents of the alt-folk genre. This release though fleshes out that self-describes definition.

Opening with the melodic “Death Country”, led by the beautiful harmonising vocals of Emlyn and Laura, the song gradually builds with the addition of cello, sparse guitar and eerie harmonica to an infectious chorus where the voices come beautifully together.
I will abstain from trying to decipher the meaning of the title of the mini-album but there is clear careful emphasis on words in this release. I’m sure every artist considers the words they use carefully but what I mean is that after listening to “Romance in Morphine” a couple of times is that the lyrics, I feel, are designed to take multiple meaning from them. The song with it’s flowing melody of guitar and piano feels like a post-modern murder ballad. It’s everything in this song bar the murder but it feels just as haunting.
The songs on the EP does seem to move between two styles, one defined by melody like “Death Country” and “Brand New Day” and the seeped in atmosphere like “Romance in Morphine” and “Not on My Side/Farther Along”. As someone that is always drawn to melody much more quicker than twords, I fell into the melodic warm sound of “Brand New Day” quite quickly. With a foot-tapin’ guitar led harmony the song is made for enjoying on a sun drenched day.

In a way I am not surprised that the band choose to cover the american folk song “Where did you sleep last night” made famous by a Nirvava cover in 1994. If there ever was a band made for reciting murder ballads, it is the Southern Fold. The band manage to make the words even more more haunting with their simple arrangement and the sombre sounds of the cello haunting the song.

“A True Ascension from the Wayward Path” is a record that sets out the manifesto of the Southern Fold. If you are looking for some haunting, shimmering alt-folk/ americana you have come to the right place. It’s easy to hear that the band have a clearly defined sound and know the music they want to make. While respecting and acknowledging the artists of the past, this E.P. establishes The Southern Fold as a a group who are contributing and innovating a genre that deserves more attention from the wider world. An excellent release with some fine craft in songwriting and arrangement - Eircana

"The Southern Fold Bible Fear Self Release"

Dark events, characters and phenomena are explored by The Southern Fold across thirteen tracks on BIBLE FEAR, their debut full album. The recording follows their mini album A TRUE ASCENSION FROM THE WAYWARD PATH, which was released back in 2016.

The Southern Fold are Emlyn Holden (Vocals, Guitar, Banjo), Laura Hand (Vocals), Brian McGrath (Bass), Cian Doolan (Guitar) and Jamie Fitzpatrick (Drums). They cite their influences to include both Hank Williams and Nirvana, but their core sound is best described as Gothic Americana, bringing to mind the early output of both Willard Grant Conspiracy and The Handsome Family. The material on the album is entirely self-written by Holden, with the exception of a re-modelling of the traditional song Run On. It’s a powerful showcase of creative and fanciful song writing, covering the emotional baggage of religious torment, damnation and redemption. Writing aside, the real winner here is the vocals of both Holden and Hand, a combination that impresses throughout.

Hold Back The Sun, the album’s first track, kicks off with acoustic guitar alongside those combined vocals, recalling the unlikely yet potent musical marriage of Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell, when they joined forces in 2006 with BALLAD OF THE BROKEN SEAS. It’s a comparison that repeats on a number of occasions on the album. The evocative and deathly Sunday Best is a dark late-night listen, that unites Holden on banjo alongside splashes of accordion, compliments of Ger Moloney.

Jesus Christ & The Holy Ghost (Not Taken In Vain) is a swinging country affair, laced with mournful pedal steel guitar by David Murphy. It’s particularly easy on the ear and radio friendly, though unfortunately the title is most likely to exclude it from our national radio airwaves. Murphy also collaborates on God Is A Ghost, another mellow country ballad that bookends the album. Blood OF Life is torrid and mischievous, bluesy with a twang. Run On (For A Long Time) and The Devil In Me are both on the same page, stomping toe tapping country blues. Save Your Soul enters gospel territory, showcasing two vocals perfectly balanced and on the same page. No - One Is My Name is a dreamy ballad with Hand’s hypnotic and simply gorgeous lead vocal impeccably complimented by background cello from Ella Englishby.

Released at the busiest time of the year towards the tail end of 2019, let’s hope it doesn’t get overlooked by both the press and buying public.Make no mistake, this is a quality product that compares more than favourably alongside the darker side of roots music being recorded by well-established acts in The States. BIBLE FEAR is further evidence, if we needed it, of the exceptional quality on our own doorsteps and an album that should take pride of place on the shelf of any serious Americana supporter.

Review by Declan Culliton - Lonesome Highway


A True Ascension from the Wayward Path  

Self-Released EP - April 2016

1. Death Country
2. Romance in Morphine
3. Brand New Day
4. Home From The War
5. Not on my Side / Farther Along
6. Where Did You Sleep Last Night


Save Your Soul  

Self Released Single - October 2019


Bible Fear

Full length Album - due 31st October 2019

  1. Hold Back the Sun
  2. Blood of Life
  3. Save Your Soul
  4. Sunday Best
  5. Jesus Christ & the Holy Ghost (Not taken in Vain)
  6. Set Yourself on Fire with Love
  7. Dead (Un)Forgiven
  8. Mercy & Sin
  9. Run On (For a Long Time)
  10. No-one is my Name
  11. The Devil in Me
  12. Bible Fear
  13. God is a Ghost

Nothing to Fear 

Self-released single - 1st March 2024



"THEY CITE Hank Williams and Kurt Cobain as their inspirations, and they seek to communicate messages of truth and honesty through harmony singing and the craft of songwriting in its simplest, purist, form."

- Kernan Andrews, Galway Advertiser

Formed by Kilkenny native Emlyn Holden in 2014, The Southern Fold have a self released EP and full length album behind them and an impressive history of gigging that has taken their Alt. Folk / Gothic Country Blues sound all over Ireland and across the pond to the UK.

Their debut EP, ‘A True Ascension from the Wayward Path’, was released in April 2016, with cello, piano and electric guitar added to the mix. This was followed by full length LP 'Bible Fear' released in October 2019 with full band, after which the group found themselves on a forced hiatus during the Covid pandemic. Taking a temporary break from the live circuit, Holden has been hard at work behind the scenes and a new batch of songs have been written and recording is currently under way with a new single scheduled for early 2024. November 2023 also saw a return to the live stage with a new 6 piece full band lineup.

"Sounding a lot like something Australia's roots musician Bill Jackson might have written... This is pretty much as good as anything America can come up with... well worth hearing."

Frank Gutch Jr. - No Depression

“With some deft touches in songwriting and arrangements, the Southern Fold are a new prospect on the alt‐folk scene here. Ones to keep an eye on.”

- Eirecana

The Southern Fold

Band Members