Feverfew's Bethany Spiers, Phantasm in the Drizzle

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

A rainy, raw weeknight at the end of a long holiday is hardly a recipe for a good turnout for live music, but a surprisingly decent crowd was on hand at the Warehouse Next Door to see promising indie-folk band the Feverfew on Monday.

"Apparitions," the Brooklyn-based act's debut album, was recorded as a duo, but singer-guitarist Bethany Spiers went it alone during the too-brief set, mixing new songs with the delicate melodies that made the Feverfew's lone recording a haunting pleasure.

"I've been writing all these weird country songs lately," Spiers said as introduction for a song that "nobody's ever heard before," but aside from a passing reference to Bakersfield, it was simply another of her tightly drawn dream-folk creations. When Spiers sang other songs, such as "The Night the Whole World Caught on Fire," she sounded nothing like Buck Owens but did strongly summon the spirit of Cat Power's Chan Marshall. With a confessional whisper, she made lines like "Now there's nothing left of you -- a tired ghost in hospital perfume" (from "Last Call") crackle with spooky static just as Marshall might. But Spiers's diaphanous acoustic guitar lines and writerly lyrical turns -- she studied creative writing at Pratt -- were entirely her own.

There was a cover of Loudon Wainwright III's ("by way of Rufus," Spiers added) "One Man Guy," but it was Spiers's own compositions that were memorable, songs whose phantasmal sheen matched the night's drizzly backdrop.

-- Patrick Foster

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