Material: Iranian-American singer-songwriter Muhammad Seven helms this enchantingly melodic five-piece that might be mistaken for the missing link between folk and Americana. Drenching curious listeners with mellifluous vibes and beautiful times, their material covers matters such as the scourge of gun violence, President Trump and strong, independent women. Their brand of crunchy, hipster-adjacent sentimentality, equally rooted in the past and present, fits snugly within the metropolitan, East Coast zeitgeist from which it sprang.
Musicianship: Seven’s honeysuckle voice pairs superbly with the feminine coos and mews of Valerie Sussman, who additionally adds welcome body to their set when strumming her violin. Most noticeable is lead guitarist Pat Mussari, whose country-and blues-tinged flights of feeling carve his style deep upon one’s soul. Theirs isn’t a display of rat-a-tat technical pyrotechnics. Instead, we have the soft, warm communion of cleverly adept players, each of whom tenderly caress every note, creating something greater than the sum of all parts.
Performance: While Seven’s understated presence matches this crew’s melancholy sound, he’s manifestly skilled at pithy comments. “This ends the astrological portion of our show,” he quips after launching the evening via a pair of planetary-themed songs. Guitarist Mussari suffered a serious technical setback during song three, but quietly and professionally overcoming this obstacle allowed him to subsequently fulfill some of the act’s most delectable licks. Counter-intuitively, the self-assured, plucky Seven apologized for his mistakes mid-set.
Summary: Resplendently crafted and elegantly simple, Seven’s songwriting anchors this project borne aloft by manifestly capable and delightful strummers. Thematically, undertones of struggle and adversity are buoyed by notions of hope, overshadowing their bitter side with a heaping dose of sweetness and light. Surging ahead upon fuel provided by the release of their recorded debut, Seven and company have made ample headway in staking out their slice of a specific, albeit limited, audience—highly liberal, urban listeners seeking cutting edge folk.
Players: Muhammad Seven, lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Valerie Sussman, harmony vocals, violin; Pat Mussari, lead guitar; Clark Goodpaster, drums; Jose Downes, bass