Frances Quinlan has a voice like a feral cat: It never does what you expect it to do. Her voice gives Hop Along’s songs a unstable, mutable energy. From howls and croons to raspy whispers, Quinlan’s voice hops up and down her register. She treats her melodies like lumps of clay that she’s trying to stretch to their limit.
Hop Along was originally a freak-folk solo project for Quinlan. Writing and performing songs while she was still in high school, Quinlan quickly developed a following and recruited her brother Mark on drums. Signing to Saddle Creek Records, Hop Along have released four albums, each one building on and refining the earnest, driving sound of Quinlan’s songs.
2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog fleshes out Hop Along’s sound by layering strings, Rhodes pianos, backing vocals, and gorgeous filigrees of guitar work on top of Quinlan’s dog-gnawing-on-a-bone singing. While the music is more knotty and intricate, Quinlan’s poetic lyrics are as thoughtful and poetic as ever. She has a knack for seeing through the eyes of others, whether it’s a frustrated waitress or troubled folk singer Jackson C. Frank. Quinlan knows how to hop along in someone else’s shoes.
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Hop Along. With Thin Lips. 8 p.m., Saturday, August 4 at Crescent Balloom, 308 North Second Avenue; 602-716-2222; crescentphx.com. Tickets are $15 via Ticketfly.