I’m writing about music for an Ann Arbor publication while I sit here in Detroit, listening to a band from Kalamazoo, who will be playing a show in Lansing, where they’ll sing songs about the last four centuries of Great Lakes area history.
Gifts Or Creatures is the softly melodic and swoony folk-rock ruminations of husband-wife duo Brandon and Bethany Foote. Their arrangements glide with palpable intention and craftsmanship, creating a string of dazzling tone-setters capable of carrying-away any listener inclined for a journey through midwestern folklore, old world history and cinematic soundscapes.
The beauty of their brand new album, Fair Mitten, is that so much of it washes over you slowly. But there’s something more powerful, more elemental going on here; it isn’t your typical tender folk or drifty Americana warblings, it’s dense with the compelling true tales of century’s past, from fading glaciers, to voracious fur trappers, to the first settlements and the conflicts with native tribes, from Pontiac’s Rebellion to the bordering Canadian enclaves, from Dearborn to Chicago…
Gifts Or Creatures take the listener back in time with a sound that is majestic and raw at the same time, evoking a sense that you’re transported to the untamed wilderness of the past that our modern eyes can no longer see save for State and Metro Parks. A song like “Manitou Passage” is an instrumental with these rough-hewn guitars clasping with a sudden, yet calming echo effect, providing a fittingly solemn and scared sound for Algonquin’s great spirit and lifeforce. “Trout of the Pine” is exemplary of their sensibility for warmly woven harmonies and a minimalist musical dressing that draws you in with each spaced out intonation.
The same way you would feel this primal sense of calm envelop you in the midst of a hike, surrounded by pine trees that your city-life keeps you away from…, the same way the gravity of a graphite pencil drawing of native tribes, settlements, or early industrial edifices from the dusty pages of a history book can start to amplify in your regard and pique out an unfounded new reverence for the nobility of this area’s ancestral peoples (and creatures)…., the same way a great story always starts out so well-paced, tender and inviting… THAT’s the essence of Gifts Or Creatures’ pensive and poignant blend of Americana and folk. There songs are radiant in the same way an autumn’s moon would be… Vibrant, yet soft… And supernaturally holding your gaze… Or in this case, your ears.
Gifts Or Creatures’ Fair Mitten is out now
But you can hear the new songs live at the Robin Theatre
1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing MI
with singer/songwriter Dan Rickabus