Fern Knight, 'Fern Knight' (VHF)

6
Fern Knight
Critical Mass
Label: VHF

by Amanda Petrusich

Philadelphia hosts a booming community of psychedelic folksingers, and much like locals Espers (whose Greg Weeks produces here), Margaret Wienk is as influenced by the spacey thrills of the Incredible String Band as by the down-home mumbles of the Folkways catalog. Predicated on a certain preciousness, her group's third full-length features loads of spectral harp, violin, acoustic guitar, and high, sinister vocals (the record closes with an apocalyptically minded three-song cycle, "The Magpie Suite," which borrows lyrics from Milton's Paradise Lost). Regardless, Fern Knight is a delightfully creepy homage to Celtic-Appalachian tradition, and a compelling subversion of traditional folk structure.

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