Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg, Jonathan Glen Wood, Paulina Hollers | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg, Jonathan Glen Wood, Paulina Hollers Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Oct. 26, 8 p.m. 2014
Price: $10
Louisville singer Joan Shelley turns inward on her latest album, Electric Ursa (No Quarter), a gorgeously rustic series of ruminations on longing, loneliness, and loss. Her voice is as clear, direct, and unadorned as ever, but her lyrics are cryptic, with little but glimmers of meaning peeking through her oblique imagery. The opening track, “Something Small,” seems to be about someone trying to find his way in the world, who leaves a small town and heads west in search of his path; Shelley imagines a blacksmith, hammering out a life (“Folding the layers and bending them into shape / With a pounding iron, a heat that draws the moths out from their holding walls”). From that point forward, I’m less sure about what she’s trying to say, but her beautiful voice is so mesmerizing that it’s easy to let go of the words and appreciate her singing as nothing but sound. The rustic melodies, atmospheric arrangements, and airy rhythms all help cast that spell too—in her excellent band, guitarist Joe Manning and keyboardist Daniel Dorff particularly stand out. As much as I love Shelley’s previous record, 2012’s Ginko, the new one feels less mannered; she still seems to be going for an austere 60s-folk vibe, but the songs and instrumentation sound both modern and timeless. —Peter Margasak



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