On Thursday evening, the pin-striped harmonies of the Wailin’ Jennys rippled through the ornate panels and pillars of the 101-year-old Cabot Theater in Beverley. The venue has been a longstanding treasure to the local community, surviving several iterations and turnovers to emerge as the retro concert hall it is now. While North Shore attendees kicked back in their cushioned theater seats with popcorn and tap beer, Ruth Moody, Nicki Mehta, and Heather Masse massaged our ears with redolent, mature folk tunes founded upon intimate narration, multi-layered vocals, and a robust string infrastructure.
Evenly spaced in a line across the stage, the five-piece folk act lived up to their namesake, howling like angels into the open air of the theater. It was stunning to witness Ruth, Nicki, and Heather compliment each others’ vocal contours with such striking balance and still proclaim their respective lucidity. Their jaws rose and fell in graceful uniformity as they shared an extensive two-part set of rootsy get-downs, acoustic ballads, oldie covers, and a cappella renditions.
Between the five multi-instrumentalists were over nine types of instruments, with frequent swaps that highlighted their wide range of musical proficiency. Nicki Mehta rotated between acoustic guitar, drums, and harmonica; Ruth between guitar and banjo; Anthony da Costa between a mint green telecaster, acoustic guitar, and a mandolin; and Richard Moody, Ruth’s brother, between viola, violin, and mandolin.