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Album Review

Arborea's gorgeous self-titled album, their second, finds 11 different ways to haunt. Husband-and-wife team Buck and Shanti Curran use a variety of techniques to access the ancient woods evoked by their band (and this album's) name. The disc's coda, "Plains of Macedonia" is an instrumental track of nearly unadorned — and slightly reverbed — slide guitar from Buck. The opening cut, "Forewarned," meanwhile, uses a bed of layered vocals from Shanti and nearly subliminal percussion to create its own atmosphere. For the most part, the eponymous disc uses simple acoustic arrangements, with little outside trickery, to create its ancient vibe, though there are some backwards masked guitars on "Ides of March" and "Black Mountain Road." Espers cellist Helena Espvall appears on two cuts as well, including the dreamy "Black Mountain Road," where it drifts through like distant clouds. Buck's vocal showcase, "Dark Horse," is perhaps the most grounded cut on the album and, perhaps because it features Buck's far plainer voice, it is instructive in how the duo uses the building blocks of folk music that could come off as a string of clichés if they weren't arranged with so much attention. Though Buck is a masterful and subtle guitarist, Shanti is the star of the show, her voice sounding lost deep in autumn, or far away in the night.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

There are plenty of ways to tie Arborea to the freak folk and new American guitar movements that emerged in the early 21st century. Though the Maine-based husband-and-wife duo of Buck and Shanti Curran presented a halfway point between otherworldly female vocals à la Joanna Newsom and deeply disciplined guitar playing à la Jack Rose, the sum total was something altogether removed. In large part, the Currans belonged more directly to the lineage of musicians who grew out of the late-'50s folk revival,...
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Arborea, Arborea
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