Coming three years after II, 2009’s III is a mild adjustment from the nearly traditional sounding, rainy-day Brit-folk of its predecessor. III still evokes the late-1960s work of Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention and Pentangle in their elliptical compositions and beautifully orchestrated arrangements. Vocalist Meg Baird is the album’s star, singing in a timeless folk alto that brings great pathos to the gentle swell of “The Pearl.” The band’s progressive attack, however, includes the great intrigue of space electronics enhancing “That Which Darkly Thrives,” the medieval vocal harmonies haunting “Meridian” and the upbeat swing to “I Can’t See Clear.” The band (slimmed down to a quintet for this album) thrive on droning notes that hang over the melodies. “Another Moon Soon” could be a traditionally picked acoustic folk song if not for the unusual instrumental swells. The drum rolls propelling “Colony” cut the weaving harmony vocals in half. “Trollslanda” ends things with a six minute epic deep in instrumental effects and dynamics. Hard to believe Espers hail from Philadelphia and this century.

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