Bristol-based five-piece Annabelle’s Curse began life as a relatively traditional outfit, a folk- and bluegrass-inspired unit with incipient tendencies toward the likes of Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers — commercial Americana bands that were popular at the time of their founding in 2010.
But over the course of seven years, three full-length albums, and a just-released EP, the band has evolved a sound that is wholly of its own making, a mature melding of traditional Appalachian music and modern indie rock, neither too hidebound nor too precious in its rendering.
“The music’s evolved to being a little different from what it was in the past,” says vocalist and mandolinist Carly Booher, on the eve of releasing the band’s new EP Here and Now. “It’s a little more indie-experimental.
“We’ve had more time together, and we know how everyone works. I think we feel more comfortable being creative, or being a little experimental now. We’ve tried some different time signatures; we’ve evolved our sound texturally. As we’ve all gotten older, we’re figuring out who we are as a band.”
Booher adds that the band’s latest round of music — recorded back in July in Philadelphia — also keeps past producer Bill Moriarty at the helm. “That made things easier,” she says. “We could skip the awkward first few days, and just dive right in.”
Annabelle’s Curse started as a three-piece in 2010, the brainchild of singer/guitarist/banjoist Tim Kilbourne and guitarist Zack Edwards, fellow Emery and Henry grads. Gradually, they added and subtracted members, finally settling on the current lineup with Booher, bassist Tyler Luttrell and percussionist Travis Goyette.
The name Annabelle’s Curse derives from an old stand-up bass the band members chipped in and purchased for their first performance, at a local open mic in Bristol. They named it Annabelle, only to see it subsequently broken, twice in quick succession — the band’s original bassist played that first gig on a half a neck with only two strings — before retiring it to a corner in Booher’s home.
The outfit’s first release was 2011’s Monsters LP, a strong effort that didn’t stray too far from the trad/folk influences all of the members brought to bear on the project. The band’s evolution began in earnest with LP number two, 2013’s Hollow Creature, and continued with Worn Out Skin in 2015, under the direction of the aforementioned Moriarty.
Booher says Here and Now is the band’s most venturesome release yet. “We still cling to our roots,” she says. “There’s still a traditional element. But there’s also an idea of putting traditional instruments toward music you might not associate with those instruments, music that isn’t usually considered, say, mandolin music.”
But maybe the best measure of how far Annabelle’s Curse has come will be revealed later this year, when the band will release its fourth full-length. AC’s plan is to build momentum with Here and Now, Booher says, then begin touring and promoting in earnest on the strength of the new LP.
Notably, this will be the first album Annabelle’s Curse has released that has not been crowd-funded.
“We’ve been super lucky to have a great fan base,” Booher says. “As we’ve gone through changes, our fans have had our back, and they’ve come along with us. We’ve gotten great feedback so far on our new music.”
Annabelle’s Curse will play Preservation Pub Friday, Feb. 24 at 10 p.m. with special guests Time Sawyer.