Olivia Chaney’s stunning 2015 album The Longest River was by no means her first recorded effort, but it was the debut solo album for the English folksinger, and the first of her releases to really catch on in America. She’d previously worked with a lot of folk collectives and bands, but strangely enough, going solo is what led Chaney right back into collaborating. After hearing her album, The Decemberists reached out to her and first asked if she’d join their tour, then asked if they could be a backing band of sorts for her.
Frontman Colin Meloy invoked the Albion Dance Band in comparison, referencing an Ashley Hutchings-led English folk collective that similarly mixes folk sensibilities. The result is a heady, psych-folk sound that will draw in fans of both parties, and probably some of those who might not listen to either solo.
They decided to call the resulting supergroup, Offa Rex, and have shared the first song off the band’s forthcoming album, The Queen Of Hearts. The title track is a stately, almost mournful song, anchored by Chaney’s sparkling, classically-trained vocals. My best comparison is Loreena McKennitt, though it’s laced with harpsichord, it’s not quite as Celtic-sounding as most of McKennitt’s oeuvre, but it flows with the same kind of poetry-influenced, classic verse rhythm.
Additionally, the album was produced by Tucker Martine (Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Neko Case), watch the live shot video of the group performing the song above, and look for the album out this summer.
The Queen Of Hearts is out 7/14 via Nonesuch Records. Pre-order it here.