When Theodore released its hushed, modest and often beautiful debut Songs for the Weary in 2007, the band emerged as a critic's darling on the new folk scene in St. Louis. Justin Kinkel-Schuster wrote songs with a sense of the Dylan, Van Zandt and Hank Williams traditions; the band played them with a collective whisper and sigh.
With the follow-up albums Defeated TN and Hold You Like a Lover, Theodore made ever more ambitious turns, adding jumping honky tonk and noisy psychedelic music to its old time arrangements of banjo, bass, saw, trumpet, drums and guitar, both plucked and plugged in. Now with a new EP, Blood Signs, the band drives the feedback harder and more powerfully, as Kinkel-Schuster's voice becomes a howling, quivering force of his own nature.
For this Live at KDHX session, the band introduces the new song, "Honest Blues" with a creepy, dissonant improvisation and then proceeds to make good on the sincere title. The band also revisits "Across the River," from Hold You Like a Lover, adding a thundering slide-guitar climax, and then turns to another new song, "Abilene," one of Kinkel-Schuster's most precisely heartbreaking lyrics and one of the band's most passionate performances.