There’s a deeply held myth that rock ‘n’ roll is the musical incarnation of rebellion, separation, disconnect with society. In that context, Faun Fables’ A Table Forgotten EP feels almost radical in its wholehearted embrace of domesticity and the joys of tending a home. Of course, Faun Fables’ front-witch, Dawn McCarthy, has never claimed to speak to the zeitgeist; she was writing pagan folk paeans to such unfashionable topics as nature, travel and family years before the term “freak folk” was coined.
The first installment in a planned series of releases about homemaking and how it affects our daily lives, A Table Forgotten is at once the least adventurous and most welcoming release in the Faun Fables discography. Where The Transit Rider (2006) felt otherworldly through and through, McCarthy’s chalky alto sounds completely at home among the rousing frame drums, tambourines and percussion of “With Words and Cake.”
No doubt being pregnant — the father is bandmate Nils Frykdahl (also of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) — had something to do with that. McCarthy’s lyrics (“Welcome to a vast place/ To a world you’ve arrived/ I won’t deceive you, Birthday Child/ It’s safe as it is wild”) may as well be directed at her unborn child.
Though the acoustic title track laments an empty table (“A place forgotten and moved around/ No one sits, they just drop things down/ Upon a table forgotten”), the song itself is full of life, with woozy theremin and violin tones from new member Meredith Yayanos and Frykdahl’s gruff harmony vocals. Here Faun Fables dusts the cobwebs off the twisted Eastern European cabaret tropes that Barbez and Devotchka have also explored.
“Winter Sleep,” co-written by Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurdsson, opens up new avenues for the Faun Fables household — it’s a heavy folk song, a dark lullaby, all clanking bass lines and slow-build crescendos. By returning from the pagan vastlands to the familiar comforts of home, Faun Fables’ music has grown ever warmer, less willfully weird, better able to connect.