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Joan Shelley carefully calibrates the particular resonances, timbres, and tempos of her music to slow her listeners’ heartbeats and ease their fears. Her songs function as lullabies, calming anxieties about the transition between consciousness and unconsciousness, despair and connection. In the song “Teal,” from her new album, Like the River to the Sea, she expresses her intent to “tear apart summer’s stuffy and stale rooms” to let in “fresh air, wind, and waves.” Her voice is close, pure in tone. It merges seamlessly with her musical partner, guitarist Nathan Salsburg.

Shelley grew up in Kentucky, and there’s a deep undercurrent of old Appalachian music, but the album feels ethereal and unmoored to place. It was recorded in Iceland with producer Jim Elkington and features guest vocals from Bonnie “Prince” Billy (singer-songwriter Will Oldham) on two songs.

Shelley and her band—Salsburg, violinist Anna Krippenstapel, drummer Nathan Bowles, and bassist Jake Xerxes Fussell (who also played an opening solo set)—performed at the arts-friendly Park Church Co-op in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Joan Shelley at soundcheck

Nathan Salsburg and Shelley

Nathan Bowles

Taking a moment to rest before the show

Jake Fussell performing a solo opening set

Cutting a lemon for tea

Set list

Salsburg packing up his guitar after the show

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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