After being dubbed “Seattle’s Emmylou,” the talented retro-folk and country singer/songwriter Zoe Muth saw fit to leave her native Pacific Northwest for one of America’s roots-music Meccas – no, not Music City, but its more indie frontier counterpart: Austin, Texas. There Muth recorded her new album World of Strangers with some heavyweight support, including an actual Dixie Chick. In what is becoming a commonplace American music paradox, Muth’s sojourn to the source produced a record that is far less traditional, less doctrinal and less reverent of roots than the music that she had been producing in Seattle.
World of Strangers is still very much a downbeat, world-weary work of literate roots music, but its striking moody ambiance is decidedly modern, building bridges between Gram Parsons and the National. While not nearly as outrageous a departure from the roots dialect as, say, Jolie Holland’s recent dark fuzzfest, Wine Dark Sea, World of Strangers has a meditative cathedralesque quality that is especially affecting on “Somebody I Know,” a duet featuring legendary Texas songwriter Bruce Robison and the song from which the album takes its title. Muth’s literate and melancholic take on roots songwriting is a kind of music that has always played well in our parts, where such kindred spirits as Mary Gauthier and Eilen Jewell are regular and honored guests.
No stranger to do-it-yourself touring near and far, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers make two local appearances in the weeks ahead. On Friday, November 28 at 8 p.m., she appears at the Rosendale Café at 434 Main Street in Rosendale. Tickets cost $15. For more information, visit www.rosendalecafe.com. Then on Friday, December 5 at 9 p.m., Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers appear on a shared bill with Eilen Jewell and the Sacred Shakers at Club Helsinki at 405 Columbia Street in Hudson. Tickets cost $18 in advance, $20 on the day of the show. For more information, visit www.helsinkihudson.com.