Eight albums along and this Baltimore quartet’s folk-rock project plunges deeper into the mystic. With roots in the modern Americana of Bonnie Prince Billy and Cass McCombs, but with an eye on Western philosophy, Eastern spiritualism and a love of Mother Nature, Song Of The Rose is one of those tasteful slow-burners that often blossoms into transcendental art.
It’s no surprise to learn that founder/ guitarist Dave Heumann practises Tai Chi: Arbouretum’s trademark stately pace mirrors that discipline’s mindful deliberation and makes for a particularly satisfying underpinning when the bigger, improvisational wig-outs descend.
Often (rightly) compared to Richard Thompson-era Fairport Convention, Heumann’s restraint – and that of his band – is commendable. Where a fug of overdriven psychedelic effects could overwhelm the message and the music – particularly on the ritualistic Call Upon The Fire and the exquisitely trippy Absolution Song – he instead maintains subtlety, style and superb songcraft in a slow movement that’s all his own.