NPR logo

"Granny's Song"

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91633361/91534422" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
The Old Believers: 'Granny's Song'

The Old Believers: 'Granny's Song'

"Granny's Song"

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91633361/91534422" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Old Believers' Nelson Kempf and Keeley Boyle. Jason Quigley hide caption

toggle caption
Jason Quigley

The Old Believers' Nelson Kempf and Keeley Boyle.

Jason Quigley

Portland, Ore. duo the Old Believers yearn for the past with a soulful folk sound that is nostalgic, but inspired. Singer Neeley Kempf's expressive, bluesy croon is a throwback to ages long ago; paired with the group's alt-country stylings, the music he produces with bandmate Keeley Boyle is both vivid and compelling. While more progressive than bluegrass and Americana, the sound on the group's second release, the eight-song EP Eight Golden Greats, definitely draws elements the roots music.

The tinny percussion, rhythmic acoustic guitars and wispy synth keyboard lines on "Granny's Song" give the track a certain airiness. The song is grounded by Kempf's deep, emotive vocals, lending it an honest and heartfelt immediacy. Hearing it is a bit like entering a rickety cabin in the mountains — fire crackling, wind blowing.

Eight Golden Greats continues with tracks such as "That's All," which mimics gospel in the choral backing of Kempf and Boyle's solemn lead vocals. The opening track, "There It Is," begins with a strolling, jazzy bass line and features Kempf singing some rather sunny lyrics and melodies, reminiscent of folky '60s bubblegum pop. The sounds seem to come naturally for the duo. With music this comfortable, it's hard to believe the band has been together less than two years.

The Old Believers will be touring for the rest of the year, and Kempf and Boyle are in the planning stages of a new album.

Download this song in the Second Stage podcast.

Yesterday's Second Stage artist.

Email host Robin Hilton.