Music » Critics' Picks

Death Vessel

8 p.m. Friday, May 29. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street.

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Much about Death Vessel screws with expectations. For starters, one might expect some punishing speed-metal from a band of this name, but the outfit specializes in hand-hewn, acoustic folk music. Then you have to contend with the high, dulcet tones coming from the mouth of Joel Thibodeau, the bandleader who sings with such castrati-like range that he makes Little Jimmy Scott sound like Barry White. But pushing through these ready-made notions uncovers the power of Thibodeau's work. Because Death Vessel's songs are played in a style that's at once old and new — and sung in a genderless voice and mindset — the depth of American folk music and malleability of its form emerge. Local singer-songwriters Beth Bombara and Cassie Morgan open the show.

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