If you’re into quietly intense, contemplative folk music sung and played well, The Spot on Kirk has your ticket for Friday.
Joan Shelley headlines the room, in a concert that Jefferson Center is teaming with The Spot to present. Jake Xerxes Fussell opens the show.
Shelley, based in Louisville, Kentucky, recently released her fifth solo album, “Like the River Loves the Sea.” Pitchfork.com gave it an 8.1 rating out of 10, with reviewer Graeme Thompson writing she and her collaborators “pared down her songs to the base elements of acoustic instrumentation and her softly luminous voice: cool, unshowy, conversational.” In that respect, it’s similar to her previous, self-titled release, which Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy produced.
Differences include location. Tweedy recorded Shelley at Wilco’s iconic studio, The Loft, in Chicago. Shelley and collaborators James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg made “Like the River ...” in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Her sometime collaborator Bonny “Prince” Billy (nee Will Oldham) joined her for “The Fading,” on the newer recording. Shelley returned the favor on “In Good Faith,” a track from Oldham’s upcoming record.
Shelley’s further resume includes opening spots for Wilco, Chris Smither, Andrew Bird and Richard Thompson.
Shelley and Fussell’s “The Best Hands” tour has a bonus for local old-time music fans. Multi-instrumentalist and Virginia Tech alum Nathan Bowles, who is part of the Black Twig Pickers, will be on drums. Durham, North Carolina-based Bowles is part of a backing band — Nathan Salsburg on guitars, Anna Krippenstapel on violin and harmony vocals, Fussell on bass — that Shelley called “four of the most intuitive, soulful, magical musicians and humans” that she knows, in a Facebook post regarding the tour.
— Tad Dickens