As freak folks go, the San Francisco collective Vetiver isn't especially freaky or really all that folky. Still, this year's collection of covers, Thing of the Past, finds leader Andy Cabic digging through the crates of semipopular '70s singer-songwriter misfits like Loudon Wainwright, Townes Van Zandt, Iain Matthews and Garland Jeffreys for a blithe parlor session — and then the band plunges hard into a harmonica jamming Hawkwind acid flashback. Cabic sings with disquieting reserve, the bemusement of a man freshly returned from a meditation retreat at a mountain ashram. He's got secrets to share, and he lets the silvery pluck of a banjo, the jangle of a high-strung guitar, a supple rhythm section and a clear stream of time-tested melodies convey how he sees the world: restless, resilient and hopeful.
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