Kris Delmhorst Aces the Test
“Today my album is one year and one day old,” Kris Delmhorst said early in her show at The Freight & Salvage of her widely acclaimed 2014 release Blood Test. “So it’s no longer my new album. But we’re going to play a lot of the songs from it.”
After touring the 12-song album, Delmhorst has burnished those tunes — mostly gorgeous meditations on living and loving in as real and conscious a manner as possible — to a high sheen. Performing in Berkeley as a duo rather than a full band, she and lead guitarist Austin Nevins nonetheless offered up faithful renditions of the album’s lush arrangements.
Assured throughout the evening— despite repeatedly losing her new red picks on the red-patterned stage rug — her voice was at once evocative of less tranquil waters and soothing, both questioning and accepting. This listener had the sense of being sung lullabies, albeit adult lullabies.
“Well our dreams are full of bees, they’re full of buzzing bees/When we gonna wake in honey?” she sang on “Bees.”
The word “sublime” repeatedly came to mind.
While the set was definitely about Blood Test, Delmhorst seamlessly incorporated several selections from her earlier albums into the mix, including “Freediver” from Shotgun Singer, and her take on the Cars’ “Magic” from her 2011 Cars covers album.
Delmhorst often sings of weather (the one “new” song she played referenced Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”) and stormy seas, dark nights and tears like rain. But it was nothing but sunny skies at the Freight, even when she was singing about rougher times.
“This is an upbeat song about losing your shit completely” she said before going into the song “We Deliver.”
“Oh, I think I’m coming apart/ Oh, it’s like a work of art”
But Delmhorst clearly has her shit together now, as well as a reverent audience — at the Freight, comprised of many long-time fans — who has no doubt her work is the work of art.