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Fern Knight

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Album Review

Fern Knight's third album will on many levels appeal to fans of the early 21st century variations of acid folk music. It has some of the same characteristics: gentle female vocals, a tentative delicacy, and an audible debt to British folk and folk-rock of the late '60s and early '70s (although singer/songwriter/cellist Margie Wienk is American). There are some differences, or at least unusual shadings, that set them off from the pack. There's a pronounced chamber music feel to much of the instrumentation, particularly with the liberal use of cello and violin drones, as well as harp accents. Often it's darker and tougher, however, than some other artists who follow similar lines. There's a sinister grit to the playing, and melodies that belie but do not undercut the sweetness of Wienk's vocals, and while the arrangements don't have anything like a classic bass-drums rock rhythm section, there are some occasional blasts of ferocious electric guitar. The overall impact treads the border between the haunting and the truly spooky, though some of the material, especially "Synge's Chair," sounds like it could almost be traditional in origin. If the influence of vintage British acid folk is audible, it must be said that it is in the strength of the songs and the clarity of the production; this is more impressive than many obscure relics of much earlier vintage in the same style that are championed by some collectors.


Formed: Margaret Wienk

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

East Coast neo-psychedelic folk outfit Fern Knight were formed in 1999 by multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Margie Wienk. Taking a cue from classic British folk acts like Pentangle, Comus, and the Sallyangie, Fern Knight's reverb-drenched, modernist twist on '60s mysticism is steeped in the dark, whimsical majesty of current acid folk revivalists like Faun Fables, Vetiver, and Espers. The group's seductive debut, Seven Years of Severed Limbs, was released in 2003 on Normal Records, followed...
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