KEELEY BOYLE and Nelson Kempf—also known as the OLD BELIEVERS—sound like a vintage back-porch folk duo on their new album Eight Golden Greats (Fine Romantic Records), due out later this month, but there’s more to the story than honey-throated harmonies. Recent arrivals from Kenai, Alaska, the Old Believers (who can’t even legally buy beer yet) have an easy familiarity with tradition, as heard on Kempf’s gospel clap-along “The Glories All Been Done.” Not that you can exile them to the revival tent. Their surprisingly keen pop sensibilities consistently well up, whether in heavenly vocal choruses or smatterings of strings. Kempf’s soaring tenor is reminiscent of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, and it bonds with Boyle’s more introspective and wistful musings as they serenely explore the vicissitudes of love, longing, and the acquisition of wisdom. It’s a meditative effort—best suited to early-morning self-reflection or midnight come-downs—and makes a fine poultice for a weathered soul.
This article appeared in the July 2008 issue of Portland Monthly.