On Wind of Hours Unwinding, Poughkeepsie’s The Warp/The Weft align themselves in one deft stroke with the great tradition of British progressive folk and the psychedelia of the Isles: the spectral, chamber-folk colors of Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span and such modern heirs as the Decembrists. Most of all, The Warp/The Weft’s big-bottomed folk/rock evokes the electrified Anglo-core of Jethro Tull: pre-Grammy, pre-suck. Even when this record rocks (and it does often, at times thunderously; “Medicine In” could almost be described as pirate metal), it rocks with a rounded, seafaring quality, due in part to the band’s predilection for 6/8 and ¾ time signatures and in part due to singer/songwriter Shane Murphy’s ghostly and lilting vocals, which keep one foot always firmly planted in the clouds.
A hurdy-gurdy, bells, piano and some subtle electronic elements augment the electric/acoustic guitar rock core, along with a few vocal cameos by one of our region’s most compelling and unusual singer/songwriters, Andrea Tomasi. Oddly, for all the band’s portentous sonics, grand dynamics and epic forms, Murphy’s lyrics steer clear of the archaisms and affectations that might seem an inevitable complement to this dramatic, Celtic-tuned rock. His symbol-laden but startlingly imagistic verses remain modern and conversational for the most part, reminding me more of the love/politics/nature triangle of Pablo Neruda than of Ian Anderson and the lot.
When The Warp/The Weft celebrate the release of Wind of Hours Unwinding at BSP on Saturday, June 14, they’ll be joined by some genuine kindred spirits, albeit ones firmly rooted on the west side of the Atlantic. Two Dark Birds, led by songwriter Steve Koester, are themselves purveyors of stormy, rock-enriched and literate Catskill folk with an expanded sonic palette. Their terrific 2011 release Songs for the New situates Koester’s sturdy confessional songs in settings as diverse as low-riding groove and faux-Baroque brass quartets. Whether Murphy and Koester had already recognized their oblique kinship or whether this is just another example of BSP pushing all the right buttons, I cannot say; but anyone interested in an evening of hypersmart and ambitious folk-plus had best not miss this show.
The Warp/The Weft with Two Dark Birds, Saturday, June 14, 8 p.m., 18+, $7, BSP, 323 Wall Street, Kingston; (845) 481-5158, www.bspkingston.com.