Feb 282010

Matt Duncan and Nathan Salzburg open show

By Andrew English

Saturday, March 6

WRFL Presents: Vetiver, Matt Duncan, and Nathan Salsburg

Al’s, 9 PM, $5. All Ages

With 2009’s Tight Knit, San Francisco’s Vetiver has managed to conjure the sepia-toned nostalgia of a long day spent with a good friend. It calls from down the street, in a familiar front yard, from a neighbor’s house where you did laundry most weekends. It’s that innocence of memory that permeates Vetiver’s catalog, sometimes helping us to forget, and other times asking us to remember.

For years, Vetiver has released material spattered with dreamy acoustic lulls and spooky simplicity. 2008’s aptly named Thing of the Past is a collection of well-worn covers, both from the band’s live set and their collective musical heritage. Although it’s an album of covers and a much more lush production than its predecessors, Thing of the Past is an honest, look you in the eye record. Vetiver tries on Loudon Wainwright, Townes Van Zant, and Ian Matthews, just to name a few, and still the songs come across as if they’re pinned to the same clothesline.

Vetiver has an uncanny way of making songs that feel familiar. Andy Cabic’s airy tenor and classic song-craft have always been at the forefront, but with Tight Knit, acid-pop treatments and infectious, foot-tapping guitars give new dimensions to simple, beautiful songs. Vetiver began life as a folk project, sometimes pigeonholed next to longtime collaborator and friend Devendra Banhart as freak-folk.

The last several years, Cabic and a steady, rotating cast of friends have made songs without concern for genre or image, to the delight of fans all over the US and Europe. Lovers of Simon and Garfunkel might fight for a copy of Tight Knit with the Wilco faithful or the George Harrison fan club. This album could very well have been released in any of the last five decades. What Vetiver is doing is timeless, inspired, and only getting better.

Matt Duncan, a first-rate incarnation of beautiful, danceable piano pop, will appear before Vetiver that evening with bells on. Don’t miss him while he’s still in Lexington and untouched by fame. Nathan Salsburg will travel up from his home near Horse Cave, KY to open the show. It promises to be worth a hell of a lot more than five dollars.

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