Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore Credit: Yvette Monahan

When I first heard acid-folk group Espers in the early 2000s, I was stunned by the singing of Meg Baird. Here was a young woman evoking legendary vocalists from the other side of the pond—first lady of British folk Shirley Collins, the cut-glass tones of founding Fairport Convention singer Judy Dyble, the earthy Anne Briggs, even the nostalgia-delving Mary Hopkin—all while maintaining a unique and impressive sound of her own. Espers called it a day after three sublime albums (though they’ve played a few reunions), and since then Baird has made three stark but lovely solo albums for Drag City that showcase the powerful delicacy of her pipes, most recently 2015’s Don’t Weigh Down the Light. That same year, Baird surprised fans with her first foray as a singing drummer, propelling an overdriven fusion of acid rock and folk in Heron Oblivion, alongside members of heavy psychsters Comets on Fire and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound. Their 2016 self-titled LP on Sub Pop is one of the more original albums I heard that year, straddling the line between UK acoustic progressive practitioners (the Pentangle, Sun Also Rises) and underground Japanese blazers (High Rise, White Heaven). In recent years Baird has also collaborated with Kurt Vile, with her sister Laura in the banjo-driven old-timey group the Baird Sisters, and with ace Swedish cellist Helena Espvall under the name Trollslända. Last year she released her first LP with harpist Mary Lattimore, Ghost Forests (Three Lobed). Lattimore has had a varied career as well, beginning with the 2012 album The Withdrawing Room (Desire Path), where she seamlessly melds beautiful harp textures with experimental sonics. Like Baird, Lattimore has a knack for collaboration: over the past few years she’s put out two records with musical polymath Jeff Ziegler, one with keyboardist Elysse Thebner, and most recently an album with Superchunk and Merge Records head honcho Mac McCaughan. Together, Baird and Lattimore produce a gentle sonic alchemy, with Lattimore’s cascading, trilling strings perfectly complementing Baird’s airy annunciations. Seeing the duo live in the midwest is a rare treat, and their set should make a fine accompaniment to any melancholic fall breezes.   v