On Saturday night at Swallow Hill Music, Patrick Dethlefs and two other Denver-based acts lullabied the crowd with a collection of heartfelt "new folk" tunes that showcased their latest releases. The headliner Dethlefs and his two bandmates—violinist Justin Hoffenberg and bassist Robert Collins—spun through Dethlefs' catalog of gentle rhythms and gentler vocals. His soothing voice evokes an American, countrified version of Belle and Sebastian, supported by graceful layers of acoustic instrumentation, and expertly played. Dethlefs has been lauded for the maturation of his songwriting on Fall + Rise, the album he released last summer, and his show evinced the sort of longing subtlelty that's the hallmark of a sophisticated wordsmith.
Songwriting, in fact, turned out to be the theme of the evening. Opening acts Glowing House and Anthony Ruptak, both from Denver, delighted the Swallow Hill crowd with their stellar musicianship and multi-layered arrangements. Glowing House features the voices of husband-and-wife duo Steve Varney and Jess Parsons, but their lyrics don't quite yet match the depth of their instrumental talent. And Ruptak—quirky, funny, and sad—might just be the best songwriter of the bunch.
All three acts perform regularly around town—Ruptak's next local show is January 19 at the Walnut Room, and Dethlefs will be at the Leon Gallery on January 26. They're the latest examples of how Denver's roots music scene is evolving into something special.
—Image courtesy of Patrick Dethlefs.
—Follow articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.