Part of the magic of Joseph Allred’s work is that it’s so varied. While they weave threads through folk, bluegrass, gospel, and the shadow of what’s often still referred to as American Primitive, there’s a feeling that Jospeh is never at rest, never quite ready to settle for what’s laid to tape. On their latest work for Feeding Tube, What Strange Flowers Grow In The Shade, Joseph enlists a number of friends to flesh out a folk bouquet that’s pungent along so many nodes of the spectrum. With RSTB faves Magic Tuber Stringband and Cherry Blossoms’ Chris Davis, the mood turns serene, a sparkling rush of cool waters and sun-streaked corners. With Matt Johnson and Mikey Allred, the feelings turn somber, an awestruck moment that’s gnawed away with synths.
More favorites around here surface in the credits as Allred teams up with Jen Powers and Matthew Rolin. Jen’s dulcimer sparkles on the wind as guitars intertwine in lovely contention. The set ends with Allred sparring with Anthony Ford (of Hellbender and Holy Mountaintop Removers) on drums and Patrick Shiroishi on sax, a windswept howl into an all-consuming vortex. What’s most striking, though, outside of the collaborators’ works is that the record finds Joseph using electric guitar, utilizing a Fender Jaguar to create churning seas and gossamer clouds of sound. No matter where they pivot, Allred seems to find striking new sonic depths to plumb. The record is blown adrift from their folk works, but still haunted by the same ghosts. I’ll continue to wait anxiously for each new incarnation of Allred.
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