Seattle sound in the Eug
by Molly Templeton
Kingdom County is a young band with a long history. The band is barely a year old, but songwriters Josh Humphrey and Nick Cervantes have been playing together for 15 years, since their days in high school in Seattle’s suburbs. Humphrey made Eugene his home some time ago, but it was only last fall that Cervantes headed south to join him.
We’re lucky it was Cervantes who moved here — not simply because musicians are always leaving us for the larger cities to the north, but because Kingdom County is a welcome addition to Eugene’s music scene. This week, the band — now a quintet featuring violinist Jenny Lucke Humphrey, cellist Yoko Silk and singer Ali Abbors — releases its first CD, a self-titled collection of just eight tracks of expansive, country-tinged indie folk that’s full of promise.
The album begins with the laid-back, open-skies Americana of “Recuerdos” but shifts into a denser sound with “Came Saw,” on which it’s clear how much richness and texture Silk’s cello and Jenny Lucke Humphrey’s violin bring to the band. The jaunty, lyrical “Happenstance” makes great use of Abbors’ harmonies; she shines as the singer and songwriter of the following track, “Nothing Dear,” a sweet and spry little love song that never fails to remind me of The Sixths’ “You You You You You” (a Stephen Merritt-penned song sung by Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Katharine Whalen that you really ought to track down if you haven’t heard). Throughout, Cervantes’ voice has a perfectly young-but-weary quality around which the cello and violin wrap beautifully, and never moreso than in “Four Chamber Music,” the album’s exceptional finale. “Four Chamber” displays the best of Kingdom County’s moodiness; a swelling, intense verse transforms into an unexpectedly comforting and confident chorus into which is tucked one of the album’s best lines: “The wind will blow and the river knows all the secrets I’ve never told you / But the night will come and the music’s fun and one more drink will unfold you / Like I told you.”
Kingdom County, The Stone Jumpers. 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 22. Sam Bond’s Garage • $4. 21+ show.