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Silver Thread Trio: Trigger and Scythe (Prophette) 

As a band clearly in love with music decades older than themselves, the Silver Thread Trio comfortably borrows and blends styles and themes that have forever driven the American folk-music tradition.

Yet it's the trio's own songwriting and arrangements that are displayed on Trigger and Scythe. The album features 12 originals and just two traditional folk tunes, a balance that proves the band's talents run much deeper than their trademark three-part harmonies.

The songs cover lost loves, busted hopes, vivid dreams, sin, salvation and the ever-present specter of death—stories all spun with a deft eye for details, and narration that knows when to take a heartbreaking turn. Caroline Isaacs, Laura Kepner-Adney and Gabrielle Pietrangelo each contribute at least two songs.

The music—traditional, old-timey Americana, combining elements of folk, blues and country—was recorded with Jim Waters and a host of guest musicians (including Calexico's Joey Burns, John Convertino and Paul Niehaus, and the El Camino Royales) to create full and rich arrangements while still focusing on the trio's vocals.

"Days of Night," "Mockingbird" and "River's Run Dry" are songs of such faithfulness to the folk tradition, it's a surprise they weren't written in some other century.

After making their mark locally, perhaps more so as backup vocalists and collaborators, Silver Thread Trio shines by showing how their fresh songwriting connects so deeply with the past.

More by Eric Swedlund

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