Death Vessel

Tuesday, July 31

Too many present-day folk singers rely on minor chords and apocalyptic lyrics when trying to channel the eerie vibe of the Anthology of American Folk Music. But as one Dusted writer duly noted, there was more to that collection than murder ballads. Just take a listen to the fiddle tunes like “Sail Away” and “Indian War Whoop”; they sound joyous first, then creepy after subsequent listens. This is where Death Vessel (birth name: Joel Thibodeau) succeeds. Ripe mandolin and banjer licks pepper his songs, which are rooted in the hootenanny tradition. But fret not, he’s still as unsettling as his moniker suggests: With dramatic cheekbones, sloped forehead, and raven-black hair, he looks like an intimidating Native American from a Western flick. But then he opens his mouth and out comes this high-pitched, little girl’s voice. At first, you think it’s a joke. But he never cracks a smile. He just keeps on singing like a girl.

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