norfolk & western Not pictured: kitchen sink. alicia j rose

OUT OF ALL THE musical communities in Portland, few seem as tight knit or amiable as our flourishing indiefolk circle. And if there's one band that keeps this circle unbroken it's Norfolk and Western, a fluidic batch of players that serves as a meeting ground for members of like-minded groups such as Loch Lomond, Horse Feathers, and M. Ward's band. Norfolk's newest disc, The Unsung Colony, pushes the comparatively benign acoustics of their previous offerings into stellar new heights. Throughout this fine affair, layers of banjos, Optigans, and soft, beckoning voices blend to create classic balladry. I caught up with Norfolk's Adam Selzer on the road with a few questions about life behind and beyond the mixing board.

MERCURY: Norfolk and Western have performed as everything from a duo to a septet. Is it difficult or inspirational to switch things around so much?

ADAM SELZER: We love playing with the musicians we have now. It's definitely a band now—very collaborative. I would hate to have to go back to a duo because we've fallen in love with playing with such great musicians.

How do you feel The Unsung Colony differs from past Norfolk and Western recordings?

There was a lot more collaboration on this record and we decided to try and make it more of a grand album with lots of arranging with many melodies, counter melodies, and harmonies. We wanted to do something bigger than anything we have done in the past. That being said, there are some sparse songs on the record too. I think it helps balance it out. Sometimes you can go overboard with the overdubs.

How has touring been treating you this time around?

Well, it's been hit and miss. Touring around Thanksgiving may not be the best idea, but we had some really good shows too. It's our first time out on our own so we didn't know what to expect. It's been humbling, enlightening, and uplifting... not all at the same time!