Words by Melanie Xulu
San-Franciscan folkies Walker Phillips and Caira Pairvel recently decided to swap out their soft and tender acoustic guitar sound for something much heavier and louder, forming Tabernacle. An outfit once described as “Fairport Convention meets Cream“. That’s not to say the pair have dismissed their love of folk music completely, the project is more an inventive restructuring of the genre. In fact, Tabernacle’s repertoire consists exclusively of traditional folk ballads, many of which are hundreds of years old. The melodies and lyrics of these medieval ballads are retained, but the arrangements are reimagined as proto-metal psych bangers. We love to hear it!
Joined by Camilla Saufley (Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Golden Void) on bass and Christopher Grant on drums, with Phillips on guitar/vocals, and Pairvel on lead vocals/keys, Tabernacle’s inventive merging of genres is a real treat to the ears.
Their new single, Siúil A Rún is a Sam Gopal meets Fotheringay folk-rock stomper. The track is a traditional Irish song sung half in Gaelic and half in English, from the perspective of a woman whose lover is going off to war, the song translates roughly to “Walk bravely, my love.” Tabernacle’s version is based on a recording of Elizabeth Cronin from the Topic Records collection Songs Of Courtship.
B-side, The Ship In Distress is a story of a ship’s crew stranded at sea, starving, and about to resort to cannibalism (cheery!). As one of the crew bravely consents to be the first to die, they are rescued in the nick of time. This version is based on Martin Carthy‘s take on his 1968 album But Two Came By. Walker and Caira’s knowledge and love of trad folk shines through in their music. Tabernacle’s sound is truly special.
Four San Franciscans singing traditional folk ballads with a heavy proto-metal/psychedelic feel… what’s more to love? Get with it!
Siúil A Rún / The Ship In Distress is released 5/08/22. More info here
Tabernacle has upcoming shows in Oakland CA (AUG 13th), San Francisco CA (AUG 20th), and at Monolith On The Mesa in Taos NM (SEPT 18th).
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