In the psych-folk revival of recent years, an artist can go two ways: either taking the stripped-down singer/songwriter approach (think Devendra Banhart) or pulling together a group of like-minded individuals to contribute to the instrumental and vocal tapestry (like those pioneers of psych-folk The Incredible String Band). Feathers, emerging like faerie-folk from the mountains and forests of Vermont, definitely fall into the latter camp. While Kyle Thomas and Asa Irons have made a name for themselves through their collaboration with J. Mascis in the guitar-heavy band Witch, the individual identities in Feathers blur and obscure. The eight men and women blend their voices along with scores of instruments â€šÃ„Ã® plucking, strumming, shaking, banging and otherwise conjuring as many different noises as possible from their acoustic arsenal.
Overall, the songs have a calm, relaxing demeanor, the perfect soundtrack for cloud watching in a field of daffodils on a spring afternoon. Right from the start of opening track “Old Black Hat with a Dandelion Flower” we can hear the multiple voices of Feathers coming together, melding into something beautiful. Subdued tracks like “Ulna” and “Past the Moon” blend nicely with some of the more adventurous moments, such as the slightly dissonant “Van Rat” or the slow, brooding build up of “Ibex Horn,” which at 8-and-a-half minutes is the longest journey contained within.
Closing the album is “Come Around,” possibly the most structured pop offering on this disc. The upbeat chorus with interweaving vocal harmonies neatly accomplishes the task of bidding the listener “Farewell, goodbye, come back and visit us again.” While the members of Feathers now focus on their individual musical pursuits, the question is if and when they’ll return with another offering. Thankfully this one gets better with each listen, always revealing another subtle faâˆšÃŸade to the discerning listener.