Tag: indie folk

New Video: The Introspective Folktronica of Michael Malarkey

Michael Malarkey was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an Irish-American father and a British mother, who was of Arab and Italian origin. Growing up in Yellow Springs, OH, Malarkey relocated to London where he he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and while studying acting he begun to immerse himself in music and songwriting, which he found being a form of poetic journalism and an endless journey of self-discovery; however, he may be best known for his role as Enzo in The CW series The Vampire Diaries. 

Malarkey’s debut effort Mongrels, which is slated for a September 8, 2017 release through Cap on Cat Records, and the album’s material reportedly reveals his eclectic musical taste while being an exploration of the duality of both his nature and of human nature. Interestingly enough, the album was recorded by Malarkey alongside Tom Tapley and Brandon Bush in Atlanta and while Tabley and Bush assist to provide a subtle Nashville/country vibe to the proceedings, they manage to do so in a way that isn’t the prepackaged new Nashville bullshit about trucks and beer; in fact, they do so in a way that further emphasizes the introspective nature of the material. As you’ll hear on album title track “Mongrel,” Malarkey’s sonorous baritone croon is pared with a sparse and moody arrangement consisting of twangy guitar, softly padded drumming and chiming keys and while to my ears nodding at Pearl Jam’s “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” Malarkey’s latest single possesses a quiet yearning underneath its deliberate attention to craft. 

Directed by Adam Loveday-Brown, the recently released music video for the album title track, follows a lonely and pensive Malarkey sitting in the woods, with notebook in hand, reminiscing on his life and on a lover, who is no longer around. How and why that relationship has ended is left open-ended and to the viewer, but the video portrays the protagonist’s life with his lover as a period of brilliant light, with his cabin being bright and airy and without her, his life is drab. The cabin feels and looks shabby and claustrophobic and yet everywhere her ghost has left an inescapable presence. 


New Video: An Intimate Portrait of Life on the Road with The Head and the Heart in New Visuals for “City of Angels”

Currently comprised of founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Matt Geravis, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys) and Tyler Williams (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie folk/indie rock act The Head and the Heart can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009. At the time Russell, who had relocated from Richmond, VA and the band’s other founding member Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Hensley, who also was a relatively recent transplant, who had relocated the previous year to pursue film score writing. Thielen, was the next member to join, and she had recently returned from a year abroad studying in Paris. Williams had been a member of Richmond, VA-based band Prabir and The Substitutes, but after Russell sent him a demo of “Down In The Valley,” Williams quickly relocated to Seattle to join the new band. The last member of the original line, Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne and was member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway. Interestingly enough, as Johnson explained the band’s name came from an relatable situation in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.” 

Since their formation the band has released three full-length albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s major label debut, Signs of Light with each record seeing greater attention and the band building a growing profile; they’ve opened for Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and Heartbreakers among a lengthening list of acclaimed acts. Along with that, the band has seen quite a bit of critical and commercial success — their self-tiled debut reached #110 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks with  Let’s Be Still landed at #10 on the Billboard 200 and each album has been well received to boot. 

2017 may be arguably be one of the bigger years in the band’s history as they’ve played the historic Newport Folk Festival and Coachella, and are in the middle of an extensive tour that includes stops at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lollapalooza and a bunch of other stops. (Check out the tour dates below.)  In the meantime, the band’s latest single “City of Angels” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for a sound that  simultaneously nods at 70s era Fleetwood Mac, 60s psych folk and pop, arena rock and contemporary indie rock, but with a swooning earnestness; after all, their latest single like all of the preceding singles is written from a sincere place; in this case, a bittersweet longing for a home you’ve left some time ago — but underneath there’s a growing sense that you may never be able to come home again. 

The recently released video was directed by Claire Marie Vogel, and its an charming and  intimate, fly-on-the-wall like portrait of the band that captures them in a variety of moments both big and small. As the director says in press notes, “When The Head And The Heart asked me to join them on the road to make a video for ‘City of Angels,’ there were many moments, big and small, that made it a trip of a lifetime. Record store shopping in a thunderstorm, backstage birthday parties, a summer ski lift through Catskills mountains, all night bonfires on a California beach, surprise songs in a Charlottesville bar, mini golf beside a river. It was a thrill to be a welcomed fly on the wall and treated as one of the gang. I knew ending the trip at the Monterey Pop Festival would be special, but when we found ourselves in a charmingly odd practice room – the band rehearsing with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and Lou Adler, a founder of the festival throwing his two cents in on their arrangement — it felt utterly surreal.”

Brad Byrd is a Los Angeles-based indie rock/indie folk singer/songwriter, who after years of suffering through alcohol addiction and depression, started his music career in earnest in 2003. Since then, he’s received attention both locally and nationally for his off-kilter, hook-driven and soulful songwriting over the course of his two full-length efforts, 2005’s The Ever Changing Picture, 2011’s Mental Photograph and a string of singles in which he worked with Warren Huart, who has worked with The Fray and Aerosmith. Adding to a growing profile, Byrd has had his music appear in a number of TV shows including The New Girl, Happy Endings, American Housewife, Ben & Kate, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians — and he’s shared stages with Bobby Long, Mike Doughty, Son Volt‘s Jay Farrar, Jurassic 5 and others.

Byrd’s third full-length album Highest Mountain was co-produced by the Los Angeles, CA based singer/songwriter and Jim Kimbrough, a member of indie rock trio Walt Mink, who has produced Tenacious D, and it’s not only Byrd’s first recorded output in over 6 years, the album may also be among his most personal work to date, as the album thematically focuses on both self-discovery and Byrd reconnecting with his roots. Highest Mountain‘s latest single “1000 Pink Balloons”  is a jangling and achingly soulful and introspective track that focuses on self-discovery and the strength in letting go; but with repeated listens, the single reveals a thoughtful and provocative singer/songwriter, who makes writing a catchy hook seem effortless while nodding at the work of The Church.

Currently comprised of Evan Way, Brette Marie Way, Sam Fowles and Robbie Auspurger along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads can trace their origins to when its founding core members met in Eugene OR in 2004, where they all were attending college and studying for degrees that as the band’s frontman Evan Way jokes in the band’s official bio “never used or even completed.” As Way recalls “we would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have. We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”
So in 2005, the founding members of the band relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, eventually moving into a 1 bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way explains. But while in Los Angeles, the members of The Parson Red Heads became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason.
After 3 more years of writing, recording and touring, which resulted in an EP and their sophomore full-length Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare Studio with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey, the members of the band decided to quit their jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland.  But whether they were in Los Angeles or Portland, the band had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live act, with a folk sound that can easily go into rock mode — and in some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that the band’s influences include The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, Crosby, Nash, Stills and Young, Jackson Browne and others. In fact, with the band’s third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band wanted to capture their live, rock-leaning sound on wax. “We’ve always made records that were more thought-out,” says Way. “When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side.”
The psych folk/indie folk/indie rock act’s fourth full-length effort Blurred Harmony derives its name from a Donald Justice poem, and is slated for release next week through Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy Records here in the States, the home of JOVM mainstay Drunken Prayer, acclaimed singer/songwriter Fernando and Richmond Fontaine. And as Way explains, the band intended to do things differently — with the band recording and tracking themselves, setting up drums and amps and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep and trying to finish before it got too late. He goes on to say that “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.” And as you’ll hear on Blurred Harmonys latest, jangling and anthemic single “Coming Down,” the wisdom of someone, who’s lived a full, messy life and recognizing that experiencing everything life has to offer is part of the purpose and forms who you are and who you’ll be, but with a sense of awe, joy and gratitude. “I’m alive, I’m okay and those who I cherish and love are alive and okay, and that’s really all that maters,” the song seems to say. But thanks to its jaunty and infectiously upbeat feel, the song also evokes the experiences of being on the road, of seeing things you’d never seen before, of meeting people you’d never met before, of strange languages you can barely pronounce, of an aching loneliness — and it all further cementing yourself and your place in the scheme of things.






Live Footage: Husky Performs Their Gorgeous New Single “Splinters In The Fire”

Over the past five years or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Melbourne, Australia-based indie folk/indie rock act Husky. Initially formed as a quartet featuring is founding members and primary songwriters Husky Gwenda and Gideon Preiss (keys, vocals), along with Evan Tweedie (bass, vocals) and Luke Collins (drums) filling out the band’s original lineup, the quartet quickly received national attention and acclaim after they won Triple J’s Unearthed Contest. As the result of a growing national profile, the band played at The Push Over Festival, one of their homeland’s biggest music festivals and they’ve opened for several internationally known touring acts, including Devendra Banhart, Noah and the Whale, The Shins, and Gotye.
The band’s remarkably self-assured and gorgeously lush full-length debut Forever So was released globally through Sub Pop Records — and the album was interestingly enough recorded in a loving DIY fashion with reclaimed recording gear in an abandoned bungalow near Gwenda’s house. The band’s sophomore effort Ruckers Hill further cemented the act’s reputation for incredibly crafted songs possessed effortlessly gorgeous melodies paired with anthemic hooks; however, as you may recall, with the release of “Late Night Store” late last year, the band revealed a massive change in thematic and sonic direction that was influenced by a lineup change that left the band’s founding duo as its sole members, and from the year that Gawenda and Preiss spent living in Berlin. And one of the first things you’d notice if you had been familiar with the renowned Australian band is that while the material off their first two albums was melody-driven, “Late Night Store” was much more hook-driven and featured Gawenda and Preiss employing the of analog synths and electric guitar in what may have been one of their most rock-leaning songs they’ve written and released. Thematically, the song captured the wild array of sensations and emotions most commonly felt when you’re far away from home — in particular, awe, reinvention, danger, of being in the words of Paul Salopek “a traveler, a man from far away” — while evoking the sensation of wandering around all hours of the day and night from jet lag, excitement, boredom and loneliness from hotel room to cafe, from cafe to bar, from bar to nightclub, observing everyone and everything around you; the strange and profound bond you have with others, who are like you, far away from home and are wandering around with the exact same thoughts and feelings reverberating in their heads.

“Ghost,” the band’s first single of 2017 and the second single off the band’s third full-length album Punchbuzz continued in a similar vein as its preceding single as it features shimmering, arpeggio synths, a propulsive bass line, thundering drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook — and while pushing the sound that won them international attention into a contemporary, rock-leaning take, both “Late Night Store” and “Ghost” are among the most personal yet ambitious songwriting of Gawenda’s career.

“Splinters In The Fire,” the soon-to-be released third album’s third and latest single can trace its origins to a guitar line that had been repeating in his head for weeks while the line “Splinters in the fire, summer days in the smoke” kept making its way into the lyrics had been writing. As Gawenda explains in press notes, there was “something about ruthlessness of fire — and time.” And as a result, the song possesses the wistful and sober mood of one coming to grips with the end of relationships, the passing of time and the acceptance of one’s own mortality; after all, all things pass and all things die, and this is is the way of things.

The duo, along with their backing band released a live video of them performing of the song, shot in the gardens of an old, somewhat abandoned mansion near their residence in Melbourne — and from the video, it’s a big rambling place, in which ghosts and spirits haunt and wander about.

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past five years or so, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring the  Melbourne, Australia-based indie folk/indie rock act Husky. Initially formed as a quartet featuring founding members and primary songwriters Husky Gawenda (vocals, guitar) and Gideon Preiss (keys, vocals) with Tweedie (bass, vocals) and Luke Collins (drums) filling out the band’s original lineup, the band quickly received national acclaim after winning  Triple J’Unearthed Contest and playing at  The Push Over Festival, one of Australia’s biggest music festivals. Adding to a growing profile, the band opened for severally internationally known touring acts including Devendra Banhart, Noah and the WhaleThe Shins, and Gotye.


As the story goes, the band’s remarkably self-assured and gorgeously lush full-length debut Forever So was released globally through Sub Pop Records but it was actually recorded in a lovingly DIY fashion with old recording gear in an abandoned bungalow near Husky Gwenda’s house. The band’s sophomore effort Ruckers Hill further cemented the act’s reputation for incredibly crafted songs that possessed elements of folk, pop and indie rock, along with some gorgeous melodies and rather anthemic hooks; however with up until the release of “Late Night Store” late last year, the band revealed a change in thematic and sonic direction that was influenced by a massive lineup change that left the band’s founding duo as its sole members — and from the year that Gawenda and Preiss spent living in Berlin. Whereas the material off their first two albums was melody- driven, “Late Night Store” was much more hook-driven and featured the band employing the use of synths, keys and electric guitar in what may arguably one of the more rousingly anthemic songs they’ve released. Thematically, the song captured the wild array of sensations and emotions most commonly felt when you’re far away from home — in particular, awe, reinvention, danger, of being in the words of Paul Salopek “a traveler, a man from far away” —  while evoking the sensation of wandering around all hours of the day and night from jet lag, excitement, boredom and loneliness from hotel room to cafe, from cafe to bar, from bar to nightclub, observing everyone and everything around you; the strange and profound bond you have with others, who are like you, far away from home and are wandering around with the exact same thoughts and feelings reverberating in their heads.


“Ghost,” the second and latest single off the band’s third full-length effort Punchbuzz, slated for a June 2, 2017 continues in a similar vein as its preceding single as it features shimmering arpeggio synths, a propulsive bass line, thundering drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook — and while being an ambitious and contemporary, indie rock-leaning take on the sound that won them international attention, both singles manage to be among the most personal songwriting of Gawenda’s career. Interestingly, as Gwenda explained to the folks at Clash, “‘Ghost’ is about a process of coming to terms with this half-asleep, half-awake, somewhere between the haunted past and the sunlit possibility of tomorrow, mid-air, mid-dream state. Put simply, I was searching for a way to get free. Free of the past. Free of the future. Free of myself. Whatever that means.”  And as a result, the song possesses an urgent yearning for something that’s not quite there in front of you while hinting at the regrets, mistakes and experiences that accumulate to create a messy, lived-in life.




New Audio: The Anthemic Folk Pop and Psych Pop Sounds of Melbourne, Australia’s Jade Imagine

Perhaps best known as the frontwoman of Melbourne, Australia-based electro pop act Tantrums, Jess McInally has spent the better part of the past decade as a touring and session musician with stints in Jess Cornelius’ recording project Teeth and Tongue and Jess Ribiero’s backing band; but towards the end of 2015, some of her dearest friends had encouraged McInally that it was time for her to write her own material and front another band. “I’m a songwriter and it took me so long to realize that,” McInally said in press notes. “I need to be writing, because that’s how I feel good.” Using a loaner guitar from her friend Dan Kelly, McInally began writing the material that would comprise What The Fuck Was I Thinking, the debut EP for her newest project, Jade Imagine.
After recording a series of demos in her bedroom, McInally sent them to Dave Mudie, Courtney Barnett’s drummer, and as the story goes, not only did Mudie dig the material he received, he then recorded some drum tracks and helped to steer some pre-production of material. Encouraged by the development, McInally began recruiting a rotating series of backing band members and collaborations that primarily includes Liam “Snowy” Halliwell (bass), best known for his work with The Ocean Party and Ciggie Witch; Tim Harvey (production, guitar), best known for his work with Emma Louise and Real Feelings; and Jen Sholakis (drums), best known for her work with East Brunswick All Girls Choir and Jen Cloher, and the newly formed band spent the next six months recording the EP at Mudie’s house and DIY-based sessions in McInally’s bedroom. As McInally says of the recording sessions, “Whenever I record with Tim [Harvey], we have a little session beforehand and listen to songs from other bands and talk about what sounds we want. It’s all very measured with him. For instance, on the drums for ‘Walkin’ Around,’ Fleetwood Mac was a reference, but so was NEU! and that definitely doesn’t come through. With Dave [Mudie], it’s more like ‘lets throw some things at the wall and see what sticks’ in a good way.” And while reportedly drawing from mid 60s California beach and psych pop, The Church, T-Rex, Fleetwood Mac, The Triffids, and The Go-Betweens, What The Fuck Was I Thinking’s latest single “Walkin’ Around,” sonically reminds me renowned fellow countrymen Husky and Starsailor while nodding a bit at The Verve.

Directed by Clancy Walker, the recently released music video for “Walkin’ Around” reminds me quite a bit of the video for The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” as the video follows a focused Jade McInally walking around Melbourne with an intense and determined sense of purpose; in fact, she’s so purposeful, that she’s practically mowing people down on the sidewalk until towards the end, she finally meets up with her bandmates, who join her for the rest of their walk.

Currently comprised of Sheila Bosco (drums), Brian Lucas (bass), Kelly Ann Nelson (vocals, wooden flute), Jeffrey Alexander (guitar, wooden sax), Arjun Mendiratta (violin), Laura Naukkarinen (vocals) and Michael Whitaker (flute, sax), the San Francisco, CA/Oakland, CA-based septet Dire Wolves have developed a reputation for crating deeply hypnotic folk-leaning indie rock — and for being incredibly prolific, as they’ve released 12 full-length albums since their formation 2008.

The Bay Area-based band’s forthcoming, 13th release Excursions to Cloudland will reportedly further cement the band’s reputation for crafting hypotonic, trance-inducing music — but on the album’s second and latest single, the expansive and slow-burning “Cerebration Day,” the single while slowly building up steam, manages to evoke the sensation of spinning without getting too dizzy; it also simultaneously manages to be ethereal yet grounded within the earthly realm, celebratory but with a bit of menace just under the surface.




Live Concert Review: Xylouris White with Marissa Anderson at National Sawdust

November 11, 2016


Those who know me the best know that I lead an insanely full life. I commute back and forth between my apartment in Queens and my full-time day job as an Acquisitions Editor at a downtown Manhattan-based book publisher, run this site on the side as a mostly full-time effort, participate in a radio segment that airs Fridays on Norway’s P4 Radio and on occasion I even have time for a social life. And if I had a 40-hour day, I’d probably squeeze in even more that I’d need to do or would like to do! As you can imagine, with all of those various and competing obligations it can be difficult to spend some time to actually sit down and write in a way that I’d like; but as a wise man once rhymed “the hustle don’t sleep.”

Last month, I was at one of Williamsburg’s newest and most intimate venues, National Sawdust to catch the highly-acclaimed duo Xylouris White along with the incredibly talented Northern California-born, Portland, OR-based guitarist Marisa Anderson. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month or two, you may recall that Xylouris White is comprised of Comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known as a member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with an incredible list of equally renowned artists including PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and laouto player Giorgos Xylouris, best known as the frontman of Xylouris Ensemble and the son of legendary vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris. The duo’s collaboration together can trace its origins back to the early 90s when the renowned Cretan vocalist and laouto player was touring through Australia in the early 90s. At the time, White was a member of Melbourne, Australia-based avant garde rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he met and befriended the younger Xylouris. When White along with bandmates Warren Ellis (violin and bass) and Mick Turner (guitar and bass) formed The Dirty Three, Giorgios Xylouris would collaborate with the band whenever he and his Ensemble were in town. Interestingly enough, the members of The Dirty Three have publicly cited Psarantonis and Giorgios Xylouris as being major influences on their sound and approach.

Although White and Xylouris have known each other for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 when they decided that should collaborate together, and it was accelerated when White played with both Psarandonis and Giorgios Xylouris at an All Tomrorow’s Parties Festival, curated by Nick Cave. Unsurprisingly, the duo’s long-held mutual admiration has deeply influenced how they write and perform music – and in some way, it sounds as though the duo is dancing, as at any given point they could be accompanying or leading each other and at any given moment and their live sound reflects that same mischievous fluidity while drawing simultaneously from both contemporary and ancient folk; in fact, during their National Sawdust, Giorgios Xylouris sang the lyrics of a song based around a 14th century love poem in his native Greek and the although the majority of the audience didn’t understand the words, we could understand the ache and longing within the song, punctuated by White’s jazz-like drumming. Several other ballads throughout their set evoked the imagery of herders and farmers singing around campfires with friends and family, before passing on the instrument to the next person.

While watching the duo playing “Black Peak” off their recently released Black Peak album, the stomping and rollicking song took on an improvisational and jazz-like feel as you can see both musicians practically having a non-verbal conversation with each other – in which at any given point White or Xylouris will say to the other “now, it’s your turn.” “Hey Musicians,” took on a wildly, mischievous, almost danceable feel; in fact, off to the corner of the room, I saw a few people dancing and stomping about with a joyous ecstasy while the rest of the crowd was enraptured by the old pros, doing their thing with an effortlessly cool, self-assuredness while walking a tightrope between an elegantly simple beauty and a muscular forcefulness.

Northern California-born, songwriter and composer Marissa Anderson is a classically trained guitarist, who dropped out of college at 19 to walk across the country and eventually settle in Portland, OR, where she’s currently based. Interestingly, Anderson is a classically trained guitarist, who has honed her skills playing in country, jazz and circus bands, collaborating with Beth Ditto, Sharon Van Etten, Circus Des Yeux and others, and has written the scores to a number of short films.  With the release of her first solo efforts – namely, her 2009 debut The Golden Hour, 2011’s Mercury and 2013’s Traditional and Public Domain Songs Anderson has developed a reputation for a sound that channels the entire history of guitar-based music and stretches the boundaries of tradition, as many of her compositions are not only based upon the landscape of American music but attempt to re-imagine them as her work possesses elements of minimalism, electronic music, drone, 20th Century Classical Music, blues, jazz, gospel, country, folk and Americana – often simultaneously.

Anderson’s latest effort Into the Light has Anderson leaving the Appalachian folk and Delta blues that first won her attention from the likes of Billboard, Rolling Stone, NPR, Spin Magazine, Pitchfork and Wire among others – with Into The Light landing on Spin Magazine’s best of 2016 and her split LP with Tashi Dorji being named one of the best experimental records of 2015 by Pitchfork and The Out Door. Anderson’s latest effort Into the Light, has the composer and songwriting leaving Appalachia and the Delta Blues – with the album’s ten compositions written as though they were the soundtrack of an imaginary sci-fi/western in which she tells the story of a lost visitor wandering the Sonoran Desert. And as a result, the material on the album is naturally cinematic and anachronistic in a similar fashion to the night’s headliner – in the sense that the material manages to feel both contemporary and yet timeless.

Adding to a growing national and international profile, Anderson has made appearances at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Sweden’s Gagnef Festival, Fano Free Folk Festival, Le Guess Who and the Festival of Endless Gratitude, as well as opening for the renowned duo Xylouris White during their brief East Coast tour, a tour which also included a stop at National Sawdust last month.  Accompanying herself with only her guitar, Anderson’s set further cemented her reputation for material that went across both the breadth and length of American music – briefly touching upon early Delta blues, folk, murder ballads and country but a with a uniquely earthy and post-modernist take, while being deeply contemplative. She’s been known to perform a version of “House Carpenter,” a title given to most American derivatives of the British folk song “Demon Lover,” a song roughly about a woman, who takes up a lover, has an affair and leaves her husband and kid – only to discover that she’s fallen in love with a demon/Satan; however, Anderson’s rendition, as she explained before she played it was meant to consider the woman’s perspective, which not only humanizes the song’s main character, but manages to be pensive and lonely in a similar fashion to “Make Sure My Grave Is Kept Clean.” Interestingly, Anderson has frequently played a medley of both songs – and it shouldn’t be surprising as the narrators of both songs wind up dead and in some way plead for forgiveness, understanding, empathy through the years.

The material off Into the Light manages to evoke natural phenomenon – a song inspired by Anderson’s time in the desert, observing harshly swirling and howling winds can make you picture people huddling in from dust storms or sitting around a fire, just listening and thinking. It was a song that possessed an elegant and deceptive simplicity. And the entire time the crowd was enraptured by this woman playing instrumental compositions that could burrow deep into the earth, yearn and arch themselves heavenward or just focus on the simple joys of being happy and existing in a particular place in time. Simply put it was a fascinating night of old pros capturing a crowd and taking them in challenging, new sonic and thematic directions.