Fusion experimenters Clogs take a modern approach to folk-flavored chamber music. Led by composer Padma Newsome (the National), they build their courtly Renaissance sound on intricately woven strands of ukulele, violin, bassoon, and percussion, recalling the spooky British folk of Pentangle or contemporary groups like Fern Knight and Espers.
For their fifth album, the usually instrumental quartet have enlisted the prodigious vocal talents of My Brightest Diamond's Shana Worden, and though her operatic performances on "The Owl of Love" and "On the Edge" steal the album, she accords all six of her tracks a delicate, dramatic intensity. Bassoonist Rachael Elliott and drummer Tom Kozumplik emerge on "Adages of Cleansing" with piercing stabs that create a sharp climax in an otherwise lilting song.
Newsome's violin carries much of the instrumental load throughout, but it gets a moment to itself on "Raise the Flag," a wistful, airy number reminiscent of "Ashokan Farewell." On Creatures, Clogs imagine a graceful space that's always worth revisiting.