Deep Dark Woods brings a haunting beauty to its reimagined array of murder ballads, and songs of lost love | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Deep Dark Woods brings a haunting beauty to its reimagined array of murder ballads, and songs of lost love 

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click to enlarge Deep Dark Woods

Deep Dark Woods

Gemma Warren

On Yarrow (Six Shooter), the first studio album in four years by veteran Canadian folk-rock band Deep Dark Woods, the group continues to pursue singer Ryan Boldt’s harrowing end-time visions, putting a modern spin on murder ballads, apocalyptic natural disasters, and frayed love affairs. At times Boldt's prosaic touch makes the music fall flat, no matter how crisply his bandmates shape the guitar-driven arrangements or how beautifully guest harmony singers Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum (aka Kacy & Clayton) bring richness and variety to his introspective mumbling; his uninspired imagery and tentative delivery on “Deep Flooding Waters” conjure the destructive force of a sun shower. He fares better on the opening track, “Fallen Leaves,” grappling with the death of his lover in a much more convincing, heartfelt manner, imagining his “lovely Annie” buried in the ground, which is covered by leaves as they cascade to the earth from the trees above her grave. “The Birds Will Stop Their Singing” is equally effective. The delicately rendered waltz epically spells out a series of deadly misunderstandings; it sounds like a Wild West saga squeezed into nine harrowing minutes. Deep Dark Woods brings the muscle and energy lacking in the studio to its live performances, but the absence of Kacy & Clayton’s harmony singing on this tour will be strongly felt.   v

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