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Dreamy Folk in Three Acts

Kelli Schaefer
Kelli Schaefer

It’s rare that a triple-bill generates an equal amount of excitement for each individual artist, but this one does exactly that. Between acoustic folk-pop artist Bryan John Appleby, rock ‘n’ soul songwriter Kelli Schaefer (pictured) and ambient noisemaker Shay Roselip, there is something for everyone.

Appleby gets your attention with his subtle vocals, even when his tracks rise above the typical quiet of a folk song. “The Rider. The Horse. The Land.” churns along at an even pace and will have you bobbing your head, and even when he seems his angriest, as on the apocalyptic “Boys,” or when he is filled with doubts about God, as he is on the languid folk number “Sprout,” Appleby’s emotion is contained within subtlety. He waves painful stories with a surprising level of grace and aplomb, and that is no small feat.

Schaefer’s luscious vocals mix well with her tunes, whether they veer more towards dreamy folk (“Gone in Love”), ambient piano-and-guitar numbers (“Better Idea”) or kooky rock numbers that simultaneously border on being downright silly and terrifying (“Black Dog” is a treat in this way because it doubles as a sort of adult version of Little Red Riding Hood in parts, while also representing a temptation that isn’t going to swallow her whole). Schaefer’s lyrical insight is razor-sharp, particularly on “Sister K” where she laments the lack of results that fighting the good fight often brings. Her haunting performances are nothing short of spellbinding.

Roselip’s music doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you would enjoy too much in a live setting simply because it is so mellow, but that is in fact part of its charm. The ambient down-tempo sound of “Free Will”’ and its frequent use of the lyric “It’s all good” will put you at ease, and “Secret Gold” is the sort of languid rock that is somehow somewhere between down-tempo, mid-tempo and ethereal in its sound. Roselip’s vocals are even-keeled throughout without being boring, as though to show much emotion would disrupt the musical waves too much. 

Bryan John Appleby, Kelli Schaefer and Shay Roselip play 9 pm Saturday, Dec. 1, at Sam Bond’s, $6.