Greg Jamie’s the kind of guy you can’t help but love. Ever humble, soft spoken, and possessing of a sweetness that’s apparent in even the most casual of conversations, he’s the sort of genuine musician that feels all too rare in today’s ego-driven world. It can sometimes be hard to process, then, why he makes such dark, unflinching music.
Blood Warrior, his more stripped-down outfit away from full-time gig O’Death, is celebrating the release of its latest album Friday at SPACE, with supporting sets from wandering folkie Death Vessel, and American Primitivist guitarist Ryley Walker. The group’s latest, Letter Ghost, will see official release May 19 on Chicago’s Immune Recordings label. Early tastes of songs from the album, at intimate shows in the last handful of months, have revealed a Blood Warrior even more obsessed with the murderous, macabre side of alternative Americana than ever before. Jamie’s writing on these tracks, too, has seemed sharper and more focused than ever, with murderous vibes and melodies that show off his sometimes terrifying, expressive tenor range more confidently than ever before.
For those already familiar with Jamie’s work in O’Death, this is an altogether more brooding, slower-paced sort of rural gothic. Live, he’s joined by instrumentalist Joey Weiss of folk-pop group Super Monster, and the duo setting gives Jamie’s songs much more room to breathe than the amped-up, rollicking ferocity of an O’Death performance.
Death Vessel, another songwriter with an astoundingly high vocal range, is the nom de plume of artist Joel Thibodeau, whose singing has to be heard live to be fully believed. Born in Berlin, raised in Kennebunk, and discovered in Rhode Island, Thibodeau is good friends with local legend Micah Blue Smaldone, and Death Vessel’s music stands confidently and uniquely in such esteemed musical company. Thibodeau’s voice weaves and bends effortlessly in the uppermost reaches of the human vocal chords, completely shattering conventional notions of the male voice’s limitations. His songs, too, are as beautiful as they are strange, making great use of odd chordings and unusual melodies to conjure a folk landscape both timeless and contemporary. His last record, 2014’s Island Intervals, was recorded in Iceland with members of post-rock legends Sigur-Ros, if that helps to give any indication of the otherworldly, singular sphere Thibodeau’s musical approach inhabits. When Jónsi sings backup to one of your own vocal performances, you must know you’ve arrived, right?
Blood Warrior with Death Vessel, Ryley Walker | at SPACE Gallery | Friday, May 15 | $8 adv, $10 dos | 18+ | Doors 8:00 PM