Death Vessel

Stay Close

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The terrible band name makes Death Vessel sound like they're probably a Swedish black metal group, but in fact, their debut album is a charming exercise in country-ish folk-rock led by singer/songwriter Joel Thibodeau. There is no insult or judgment implied by this statement, but it must be said: Thibodeau sings like a girl. Seriously, anyone approaching this album without foreknowledge would simply assume that Death Vessel had a female lead singer with a voice along the lines of Gillian Welch or Tift Merritt. Thibodeau's twangy vocal style is the band's most immediately appealing element, followed by the easygoing lope of the band's arrangements, built mostly on acoustic instruments but with none of the straining for folk or country "authenticity" that hampers many similar albums. Thibodeau's primary musical partner, Erik Carlsson, formerly of the Rhode Island-based dream poppers Purple Ivy Shadows, is likely responsible for some of the more atmospheric touches that decorate these songs, but mandolin and banjo are equally well represented throughout. A low-key, unpretentious album, Stay Close is well worth a listen.

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