In the decade since antifolk’s heyday on the Lower East Side, Diane Cluck has built a sizable body of work—five full-lengths, an EP and a collection of early songs—while continuing to fly under the mainstream radar. But she hasn’t gone unnoticed. Her fan base, cultlike in size and devotion, includes CocoRosie, with whom she has toured and recorded, and WNYC’s David Garland, who invited her to perform at a 25th-anniversary event for his show Spinning on Air in November, alongside John Zorn, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon.
It’s fitting company for Cluck to keep. Bell-clear and hotly austere, her lithe, dynamic voice hasn’t much kin. Categorizing her as folk is simplistic—the subtle, subaquatic rhythms she can summon with her voice alone or with piano, guitar, accordion or a drummer (like Anders Griffen) align her more closely with Tracey Thorn than Kimya Dawson. The Charlottesville, Virginia, resident, who has also lived in Brooklyn and Stone Mountain, Georgia, emanates something humble but mythic. Appalachia or ancient Athens? Both hum and lilt in the unpretentious drama of her airy songs—the covert coitus of “mermen on fire” on a dark beach in Monte Carlo, a house that’s “dang cold and queer,” the staghorn sumac and “zombie daughters” of “Red August,” all from her current fan-funded song-of-the-week project.
Following sold-out shows in London, Brighton, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels this past fall, Cluck is recording a new EP in March. On Tuesday she plays with Griffen and cellist Isabel Castellvi.—Kate Crane