Newport Folk PresentsJoan Shelley / Jake Xerxes Fussell
Joan Shelley, a singer-songwriter who lives near Louisville, Kentucky, features work that wrestles with the possibility of reconciling, if only for a moment, the perceived “natural” world with its reflection. Her fifth album, Like the River Loves the Sea, was released in August.
Although Shelley draws inspiration from traditional (and traditionally minded) performers from her native Kentucky, as well as those from Ireland, Scotland, and England, she isn’t a folk singer. Her disposition aligns more closely with those of Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, and fellow Kentuckian Tom T. Hal.
Since the 2015 release of her album Over and Even, Shelley has crossed the country and toured Europe several times as a headlining artist, sharing shows with artists such as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Doug Paisley, Daniel Martin Moore, and Michael Hurley. She has opened for Wilco, Chris Smither, Andrew Bird, and Richard Thompson.
On Out of Sight, his third album, guitarist, singer, and master interpreter Jake Xerxes Fussell is joined for the first time by a full band. The transporting selection of traditional folk songs address the troubles and delights of love, work, and wine—the things that matter.
Out of Sight contains “The River St. Johns,” a fishmonger’s cry that sounds like an astral lament; “Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues,” a cotton-mill tune that humorously explores the unknown terrain of death and memory; and “Drinking of the Wine,” a fishermen’s shanty/gospel song equally concerned with terrestrial boozing and heavenly transcendence.