The devil and his angels have a thousand ways they can charm you, but give them a voice and they’d most certainly have the hauntingly angelic sound of Widowspeak to tempt you deep into the underworld for all eternity. But don’t be deceived: The duo comprised of front lady Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas are not out to convert you to witchcraft; they just come at you with a heavy dose of passionate melodies and eloquent yet expressive riffs, layered so well it produces a languid effect on what should be a rather daunting journey through a skittishly unknown soundscape.
Since the debut of their self-titled album in 2011, Hamilton and Thomas have shone brightly amongst colleagues and critics with their gravitational mashing of moody, cerebral and hippie-like folk pop. It’s entrancing and delightful, yet masked with suspicion. At times there is even something very Tarantino-esque about their sound—as if an ominous cloud of ambiguity and dread is looming just ahead, but you continue on, plagued by a desire burning deep within, propelling you forward. And now, four years and three full LPs later, they continue to take listeners deeper into their world of uncertainty.
This past September, they released their latest album, All Yours—continuing their elegant blend of folk, rock, pop and country—and wrapped up a summer tour opening for Lord Huron. These events marked a return to structure after taking a little leisure time to redefine their process of conceptual writing and playing. After moving to the picturesque Hudson Valley area and settling down, they bought a house, got a dog, and slowed things down a bit, all of which can be heard in their first single off All Yours, titled “Girls”—listen to the song below. It’s a beautifully strung-out ode to the insecurities of reflecting on your accomplishments as compared to the peers around you and their respective ages. Once again, Hamilton manages to take you through that dark and twisted road of vulnerable doubt hidden within your mind and urges you to push forward because she knows it’s the only way to self-acceptance. She’s not leading you astray—she’s leading you home, and at times that feels like the only place to keep the devil and his demons at bay.
Now back on the road, on their own tour, Widowspeak look to bring things to a more intimate level than their opening slot allowed, and they’ll be returning to Portland’s coziest sandwich shop, Bunk Bar, to revisit the stage they last performed on two years ago. Hamilton and Thomas were charmingly elegant then, and should be this go-around as well.
Opening up for Widowspeak are the ’60s psychedelic pop rock-influenced band, Quilt. With their jaunty, upbeat and string-laden arrangements, it’s easy to hear fragments of dripped-out acid pop that walks heavily in the footsteps of such predecessors as The Byrds and The Mamas & the Papas. Finding their formula primarily through experimentation and live mixing have led Quilt to produce two finely crafted studio albums (2011’s Quilt and 2014’s Held in Splendor) that highlight their understanding of their musical influences and how they plan to transcend them in the future. Amongst a crowded class from the re-emerging psychedelic genre (thanks, Tame Impala!), Quilt have been able to catch listeners’ ears by interweaving kaleidoscopic guitars, Eastern mantras, and a patchwork of other warming textures. They’ve done it so well in fact that they even managed to snag a spot on 2014’s Austin Psych Fest lineup, including a performance on the coveted Colorado River-backed Elevation stage.
While Bunk Bar may not be as scenic as the Colorado River or the Hudson Valley, it offers a well-balanced atmosphere of coziness and tranquility to complement the spiritual and rhythmic collision of past, present and future offered by Quilt and the divinely melancholic sounds of Widowspeak. And on a (presumably) cold, wet, Friday night in November, there’ll be no better ambiance we could ask for and nowhere else we’d rather be.