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Fleet Foxes will showcase cuts from ‘Shore’ post ‘Solstice Project’ at Spokane Knitting Factory

Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold will bring the band to the Knitting Factory in Spokane on Saturday night.  (Shervin Lainez)
Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold will bring the band to the Knitting Factory in Spokane on Saturday night. (Shervin Lainez)

Robin Pecknold knows how to make the best of a difficult situation. During the pandemic, the leader of Fleet Foxes decided to record a gorgeous set of stripped-down songs at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn.

The performance, which primarily features cuts from Fleet Foxes’ warm and wistful 2020 album, “Shore” dropped in December. It would have been easy for Pecknold to just isolate and write like many of his peers in New York, but he was moved by the venue.

“’The Solstice Project’ grew out of necessity and opportunity,” Pecknold said from New York. “In that phase of the pandemic, venues were still closed, but cases had abated just enough to allow for filming inside of spaces that would have otherwise been unavailable. It was a dream to be able to have a whole church to sing in alone with a small camera crew. After filming the virtual concert, it turned out well enough to be released for real! Now that we are up and running as a full band again, I’d love to make another live album as we are sounding really good.”

Perhaps one of Fleet Foxes shows on its tour, which stops Saturday at the Knitting Factory, will meet muster for a concert document. It’ll be curious to see if Fleet Foxes, which also includes guitarist Skyler Skjelset, multi-instrumentalist Casey Wescott, bassist Christian Wargo and bassist Morgan Henderson, slips in some covers during its set.

The lovely rendering of The Bee Gee’s “In the Morning” is one of the highlights from “The Solstice Project.” “We covered ‘In the Morning,’ a lot on the tour for the (2017) album ‘Crack-Up,’ Pecknold said. “It’s an album with a lot of intense and psychologically demanding songs. We add that song in sometimes just to lighten the mood a bit. Ours is really a cover of Nina Simone’s cover, my absolute favorite version of the song.”

It’s not surprising that Pecknold enjoyed the exceptional HBO documentary, “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”

“It was interesting watching them navigate the shifts in the culture over the course of their career so cannily and with such aplomb,” Pecknold said. “That sequence when they discover their falsetto singing is so great. I remember having moments like that recording the first Fleet Foxes album, layering harmony after harmony and deciding that would be the sound, the missing piece.”

Speaking of harmonies, there is the gorgeous “Sunblind,” Pecknold’s tribute to Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Buckley.

“That was the last song I finished for ‘Shore’ and I thought it might be the last song I ever wrote, given the circumstances in summer 2020,” Pecknold said. “I thought a song that was a thank you note and a tribute to my heroes would be the best and only note I’d want to go out on.”

The 36-year-old Pecknold’s songwriting is full of detail and imagination and sometimes is reminiscent of Brian Wilson, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan.

“Those three are still the best of all time,” Pecknold said. “We remain in the long shadow of those greats. Part of what makes them great is their individuality, honesty, ingenuity, all those kinds of words. There is also something ineffable and beguiling about them. They’re all comfortably and fully themselves and have mastered their craft. The dream!”

When Pecknold was growing up in Seattle, the dream was to become a recording artist. Pecknold traveled quite a bit back and forth across the state for Spokane gigs but his history with the Inland Pacific Northwest goes back to his childhood.

“I mostly remember passing through Spokane because my brother went to college out in Eastern Washington, and my sister spent some time living in Montana,” Pecknold said. “We also have a lot of family in Wenatchee, so Eastern Washington has always been a heritage spot for sure and a frequent destination. It’s a whole different world!”

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