Offa Rex is the new collaboration between The Decemberists and English folk singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney, and if the crowd was expecting to hear a Decemberists-heavy set geared towards fans of the beloved indie rock band they were in for a surprise. The set focused on Offa Rex’s debut album The Queen of Hearts, released July 14th on Nonesuch, but did include one cover of a Decemberists song, “Rox in the Box.” The billing that always seems to accompany Offa Rex is the parenthetical “(The Decemberists + Olivia Chaney),” but it is now clear that this is more informative than descriptive.
The collaboration was brought to life out of Decemberists’ Colin Meloy desire to create an Albion Band-backing-Shirley Collins-type project, and that’s exactly what was realized as the Decemberists act as the backing band for Chaney’s clear, haunting vocals. The Queen of Hearts reimagines classic folk songs found in the British Isles, and the role of 60’s folk hero troubadours appears to be a natural one for The Decemberists to step into, simply eliminating the “alternative” from their “alt-folk” classification.
I half expected them to walk on stage wearing period costumes, but there was no such luck. Continue reading →