Death Vessel
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Death Vessel

Band World Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Dusted Magazine Review"

Death Vessel ... imbues their neo-traditional folk music with buoyancy and good cheer. Based in Providence, the group is led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Joel Thibodeau, whose soaring, crystalline soprano may have you blinking in disbelief at his masculine first name. Thibodeau is formerly of Stringbuilder, a short-lived hootenanny band whose lickity-split banjo lines grace a couple of 7”s and a full-length, all of them well worth picking up. For Death Vessel, Thibodeau is joined by collaborator Erik Carlson plus a rotating cast of guest musicians including his brother Alec, solo guitar picker Micah Blue Smaldone, and members of Espers and the Figgs.

Musically, Death Vessel plays it pretty straight, with bouncy major chords and clip-clops of minimal percussion, all warmly recorded to emit a happy and harmonious glow. The songs move at a loping Sunday pace that’s slow enough to reduce the risk of accidentals but quick enough to put some color in the cheeks. Aside from a surprising organ drone here, a particularly gallant fiddle line there, it’s all pretty workmanlike – happy, snappy and sunny. Thibodeau lets the mandolin notes fall like raindrops in “Mandan Dink,” a light-stomping reel, where clawhammer banjo and some plucky upright bass work do the same trick on “Tidy Nervous Breakdown.” Lap steel and the occasional electric burst of guitar waft in and out, but for the most part these songs are comprised of acoustic picking and plucking at a safe but skillful pace.

What lends Depth Vessel its unique charm is Thibodeau’s voice. He sings in a high register with a clear tone that’s beautifully sustained, but with an underlying inquisitiveness that’s distinctly childlike. Too pure and focused to run afoul of the Newsom/Banhart haters, it’s nevertheless an extraordinarily odd male voice. And Thibodeau plays to its strengths, wrapping it around fancy alliterations and using it to blow the dust off of quasi-historical bric-a-brac. Like most of the best folk tunes, few of these tracks make a lick of narrative sense. Thibodeau sings angelically about carcass racks and harpoons, pinking shears and burdock spurs, coining adverbs like “pelicanly” and “sans serif-ly” as he zips along. The places where Laura and Meg Baird (of Espers) offer harmony are especially nice treats. - Dusted Magazine

"Village Voice "Best of NYC 2006" Review"

Nothing melts a jaded man's heart like the sound of a beautiful female voice singing songs of love, loss, and longing—even when they're being sung by a guy. Joel Thibodeau, a slight young man with a freakishly high-pitched (but gorgeous) voice who goes by the name of Death Vessel (which could also fall under the "Best Band Name" category), is one of the city's most talented singer-songwriters. Don't approach him as a novelty act, though: Once the shock of his vocals wears off, you'll quickly begin to appreciate his thoughtful, poetic lyrics and impressive, Appalachian-influenced, finger-picked guitar stylings. His debut album, Stay Close (North East Indie), was one of the best releases of 2005, and rumor has it he's being bombarded by offers from some big labels—catch him at a intimate place like Pete's Candy Store while you still can. (Ken Switzer) - Village Voice


Stay Close (2005, North East Indie)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Death Vessel is the name of Joel Thibodeau's new work as both a solo artist and band leader. His music, captured on the resplendent new record Stay Close, is an eloquent distillation of a life's tales. Born in Berlin, Germany before The Wall fell... raised in Kennebunkport, Maine before the senior Bush's presidency... this musician lived a childhood where the ghosts of Cold War casualties and seaport tragedies haunted the alleyways and beaches. Leaving Maine as a teenager, Thibodeau moved to Boston, Providence and New York. In Providence he was a founding member, songwriter and performer of the group String Builder. Now as then, Thibodeau captures the surreal and the sublime in wondrous song.

Thibodeau's vocal delivery is astonishing. Perhaps his singing is best-described as descendent from "the high lonesome sound" - unleashed upon the world by Roscoe Holcomb in the early 1960's. With this voice, Death Vessel delivers stunning lyrical poetry that transcends the "whisky 'n' haystack" imagery of its neo-folk contemporaries. Thibodeau brings this same unusual experimentation to the acoustic guitar (his primary instrument). The daringly melodic plucking of strings and the odd tempo changes provide expertly unexpected accompaniment.

To watch Death Vessel perform live is to watch an audience under a spell. This applies whether it's just Thibodeau alone with an acoustic guitar or with an expanded lineup that often includes regular Death Vessel contributors Pete Donnelly and Erik Carlson.