Four years ago, Chicago singer-songwriter Jess Shoman started Tenci as a bedroom project, and in 2019 they debuted with the album My heart is an open field. The following year, Shoman reissued My heart to Austin indie Keeled Scales, which has released music from equally contemplative artists such as Arizona experimenter Karima Walker and Big Thief guitarist Buck Meek. As Tenci gained momentum nationally, Shoman fleshed it out into a full band; these days, Tenci includes drummer Joseph Farago (who makes bubbly lo-fi pop as Joey Nebulous), bassist Izzy Reidy (who fronts indie-rock band Izzy True), and guitarist and saxophonist Curt Oren (bassist in Izzy True). This version of Tenci recorded the new A flooded river, an overflowing wellwhose hushed, deep songs touch your heart, even when Shoman veils their impressionistic lyrics in enigmatic detail, A flooded river feels powerfully warm and restorative. Towards the end of the gnarly “Be”, Shoman contorts his normally soft voice into a growl just as Oren opens with a raucous, searing sax solo that dissolves into a serene coda – Tenci can end a song softly even when it feels like it’s about to burst, and it’s a great model for how to deal with the tension in our own lives.
Tenci Macie Stewart opens. Sat 11/19, 9 p.m., Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont, $15, 21+