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Jesy Fortino‘s bandonym, Tiny Vipers, is somewhat incongruous with her music, which gets into your blood not through swift, piercing fangs but soft, silent osmosis, and arrests your nerves not with the violent invasion of venom but the gentle insidiousness of carbon monoxide.
Fortino, of Seattle, writes small music for big spaces: Her 2007 debut album, Hands Across the Void, was a collection of solemn dispatches into the vast hollow of humanity. In her new album, Life on Earth—which is due out on July 7—Tiny Vipers continues to confront daunting expanses armed with minimalist acoustic compositions. Fortino’s voice is somnolent and sweet, but as lullabies her songs are likely to bring about restless sleep. One is tempted to draw a parallel with Nick Drake, but Fortino’s music is far more ominous, which is saying something. She deals in minor chords, deliberate picking, and grim assessments of the human condition that capture your attention not because they are catchy, but because they are bewitching.
If you make it to The Red and The Black tonight, don’t expect toe-tapping folk rhythms. But just because Fortino’s fangs don’t take the shape of infectious hooks doesn’t mean Tiny Vipers won’t get under your skin.
TINY VIPERS, BALMORHEA, ARGOS @ THE RED AND THE BLACK, 1212 H ST. NW, 9 P.M. $8