With her most recent album, Aleyn (Green Linnet), British folksinger June Tabor has come a long way from her early-70s beginnings. Back then she rendered traditional material with elaborate embellishment, usually unaccompanied. Her first real notoriety came when she paired up with Steeleye Span vocalist Maddy Prior to form Silly Sisters; through that outfit she met many of the collaborators she'd work with in subsequent years. Guitarist Martin Simpson was one of them, and it was within their sporadic partnership that Tabor began to expand her repertoire. Just this decade she has worked with British folk rockers the Oyster Band and sung American pop standards, jazz tunes, and songs by Elvis Costello, the Pogues, and Billy Bragg. In addition to a fair share of traditional material Aleyn includes Richard Thompson's "The Great Valerio," a late-20s klezmer tune, and a West Indian chantey. And she's gone further against the grain with her unusual backing band, which some have described as "chamber folk" because it includes piano, saxophone, bass, violin, and accordion. Its lean, austere contributions are remarkably sympathetic to her gorgeously smoky voice, which is far more restrained and dark than it once was, but no less expressive. Saturday, 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Tom Howard.