The light of the Somerville Armory welcomed me in from the cold, driving rain on December 13. The space was set up for Phil Elverum, performing as Mount Eerie, and Julia Doiron. The folk artists are coming off the release of their second album of duets, Lost Wisdom Pt. 2. Rows of chairs on hardwood floors in the high-ceilinged main room of the armory, facing a temporary stage flanked by black curtains, gave the show a homey atmosphere; the artists, currently on a nationwide tour, may as well have been bona fide local figures, doing an early Friday evening community concert. They were even manning their own merch table before and after the show.
Julie Doiron kicked things off with a casual solo set in which she showcased some of her own work. She kept up the familiarity and intimacy of the show, taking song requests from the audience, and even asking them for an ibuprofen for her headache—a trusting interaction not typically seen between artists and an audience of strangers.
Following a brief intermission, Doiron returned to the stage, this time accompanied by Elverum. They first played through their entire recent album, a series of enchanting acoustic duets. Doiron’s commentary complimented Elverum’s narrations and observations; sometimes they sang together, filling the spacious venue with their warm harmony. Much of the album is devoted to Elverum’s rediscovery and redefining of love during his second marriage and ensuing separation. In his rediscovering love, and even in his heartbreak following the divorce, there is a sense of optimism in this album—it seems to suggest that love can remerge even following unimaginable pain. “I believed in love and I still do. / I’m not going to seal up my heart,” sang Doiron and Elverum on “Belief Pt. 2,” the album’s final track.
The duo finished their concert with some of their older music, before ending the show with a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” For sure, I was surprised by the conclusion, but it was to me the perfect way to end the concert, a strong encapsulation of the generally uplifting, optimistic show. I carried a warmth with me as I left the venue and headed back into the cold.