‘We are definitely living a precarious, beautiful dream,” Kris Delmhorst says of her life with husband Jeffrey Foucault—both seasoned working singer/songwriters forging independent careers under the same roof.

“Booking two different people’s careers is like trying to steer two ocean liners around each other,” Delmhorst says from their home in the Berkshires village of Shelburne Falls. “I’m sort of amazed by couples that can play all their music together, ’cause to me, it just sounds claustrophobic. It’s great to have a world of together and it’s great to have a realm that you go to that’s your own.”

That means that she and Foucault retire to separate parts of their house to work on music. “Our aesthetic is probably the most similar part about us, and the process is spectacularly different,” Delmhorst says. “I’m upstairs, he’s downstairs, and we call it hunter/gatherer. He has some idea of what he’s aiming for, and I’m more prone to exploring the unknown [to] see what I come out with.”

But after two decades of folk-based music careers, 13 years of marriage and a routine supporting their lives as parents to their 9-year-old daughter, the couple has undertaken their first collaborative venture since their early trio, Redbird with Peter Mulvey. Foucault co-produced and performed on Delmhorst’s September release The Wild, and they’re sharing the stage of ONCE Ballroom on Oct. 21 as part of their co-billed tour.

“It’s sort of the work of circling back and digging down another layer and finding another way to renew your inspiration and focus and learn new things,” she says of their musical pursuits. “That’s actually what a lot of the record is about, going through that process of getting disoriented or slack or lost or disillusioned and having to buckle down and find a new way in, a new door.”

Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault play ONCE Ballroom on Oct.21.

Indeed, The Wild casts a shadowy sense of reflection, from the darkness and tension of the opening “All the Way Around” to the more uplifting yet similarly shaded tones of “Foolish Blood.” The title track lingers on the more mysterious side of the album’s spectrum. “Remember how you used to live there too,” Delmhorst sings, her earthy voice riding a breathy edge on the words “in the wild” as she muses about the space between our animal instincts and domesticated lives.

On the album, she plays cello in addition to joining Foucault on guitar and keyboards, supported by onetime Morphine drummer Billy Conway (who played on Delmhorst’s 1998 debut Appetite, produced her early albums and tours with Foucault), bassist
Jeremy Moses Curtis and pedal-steel guitarist Alex McCollough. Eric Heywood (Son Volt, the Pretenders) takes over pedal-steel duties on tour.

Raised in Brooklyn, Delmhorst balanced classical training with a love for Top 40 radio and a high-school obsession with bluesmen Little Walter and Jimmy Reed. “I’m sort of an omnivore,” says the singer, who cites Neil Young, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell among go-to inspirations. In 2011, as “a lark,” she recorded a tribute to Boston new-wave heroes the Cars, with the group’s keyboardist Greg Hawkes joining her on ukulele. “I wanted to take the car apart to find out how it worked,” says Delmhorst, who bought the Cars’ Heartbeat City on cassette at age 13. “I literally did take those songs apart and figure out what each piece was doing.”

But it took a while to find her muse when she was younger, moving from Brooklyn to Maine to work on a farm, where she recovered from a broken ankle in a cabin without electricity. “I was on crutches, in a lot of snow,” Delmhorst says. “I was housebound and learned a lot of fiddle tunes.” In the ’90s, after following a boyfriend to Boston, she busked in the Davis Square MBTA station and hit open mics. “It was such a transformational time for me, like going to school,” she says. “Not just for songwriting, but for being on stage and delivering songs and connecting with an audience.”

By day, Delmhorst still worked on a farm in Lincoln. Now, she’s tending her own gardens, of both vegetables and music, in Shelburne Falls. “There’s a little more space—obviously physical space but also mental space—out here.” ◆

Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault play ONCE Ballroom on Oct.21.

For more music coverage, check out Paul’s Weekend Music Ideas.

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