They’re baaaaaaccckkk. The Young Novelists from Canada were winners of the Connecticut Folk Festival’s 2015 Songwriting Competition, earning them a full set on the main stage this year. Simon & Garfunkel meet Johnny & June. Graydon James and spouse Laura Spink – The Young Novelists – in their duo version (they have a band also) wrap beautiful harmonies around songs culled from their small-town roots. Known for a heart-on-their-sleeve approach to songwriting and performance, they balance equal parts grace and grit. They are riding the buzz created by release in 2015 of their full-length album, made us strangers, and appearances the past two summers at festivals in Canada and the U.S. They are currently at work on a new full-length album. As an author with one novel – The Mall of Small Frustrations – published and two others in the works, Graydon’s words carry a weight and depth that demand repeat listens. The hope, he says, is having a listener connect with the sentiment he explores, if not the specific subjects. That connection is perhaps most intense from the stage. Graydon and Laura won over last year’s competition judges with succinct and honest lyrics packaged in a cutting edge presentation and now they have the opportunity to expand that in a full main stage set.

— Steve Winters