Noise Report: The Low Anthem

Since that show at Rockwood, they have toured with Ray Lamontagne and Elvis Perkins. They have played at (among others) Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and most recently the famed Newport Folk Festival. Their song To Ohio was selected Song of the Day by NPR Radio. The selection honored them with comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan. Their latest album, Oh My God Charlie Darwin, was awarded Album of the Month by the UK magazine Uncut. The list goes on.

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Their songs – mainly written by Miller – poetically speak of subjects from survival to faith and lost love. They draw from personal experience, but the lyrics are mostly fictional – “a novel, not a memoir,” as Miller puts it. These stories give the mellow music life, and often times they seem too age-old to be created by a year-young writer. When you’re in the audience watching them play, you can’t help but stay quiet and simply listen.

As a whole, The Low Anthem’s combination of folk, rock, blues and gospel hits close to Woody Guthrie and even Tom Waits, but at times lands closer to the blistering rust of Neil Young. Though his main instrument is guitar, Miller also plays harmonica through much of the set, and can also sit comfortably behind the drum kit, pick up an old horn he does not know the name of, or even whistle into a cell phone to create some interesting feedback, as he does during The Ballad of the Broken Bones.

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Prystowsky jumps comfortably from instrument to instrument – upright bass, drums and pump organ – while lending a gentle backup vocal to Miller’s rough yet calming voice (which sometimes turns into a whisky-soaked roar). Adams brings yet another delicate vocal to the harmony, and her multi-instrument talents – ranging from clarinet to guitar and many others – give the trio much more versatility on stage. In short, each member is capable of playing any role necessary to make every song work.

Beyond the obvious talent, it is a welcome change to see such modesty in a group. From the moment they come on stage to the moment they walk off, it is clear that the three enjoy making music together. They focus solely on making sure that each note is where it should be and each song fits into the whole, and that is what drives them from show to show.

The Low Anthem are currently in the midst of a short run opening for like-minded folkie Josh Ritter, before they set off a ten-show tour with The Avett Brothers in February.

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