Even when she's barely awake, it's easy to hear the passion Joy Kills Sorrow's Emma Beaton has for crafting surprising, virtuosic folk rock.
Unlike some indie groups, the Boston-based quintet has stuck to its guns and avoided the allure of electric instrumentation. As a result, Beaton said, the band revels in its reputation for uniting acoustic chops and complex arrangements.
IF YOU GO
* What: Joy Kills Sorrow in concert.
* When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
* Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
* Admission: $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
* Phone: 624-5347.
* Venue website: www.barkinglegs.org.
2010: "Darkness Sure Becomes This City"
2011: "This Unknown Sci
"None of us have ever not played music acoustically," the lead singer said during a phone interview from Louisiana. "The fact that the instruments aren't usually used the way we're using them and that we haven't decided to have an electric guitar and bass and drums really sets us apart."
Thursday, Joy Kills Sorrow will perform at Barking Legs Theater, drawing material primarily from its recently released sophomore album, "This Unknown Science."
Joy Kills Sorrow has been a magnet for accomplished, seasoned players since it was founded in 2005.
Matt Arcara, a Winfield National Flatpicking Contest champion, is all that remains of that initial lineup. Another veteran, lead songwriter and bassist Bridget Kearney, won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2006.
Beaton, a Canadian Folk Music Awards Young Performer of the Year winner, joined in 2008. She was joined within months by the group's most recent addition, Jacob Jolliff, who was the first mandolinist to receive a full-ride scholarship to Boston's Berklee College of Music.
The lineup may share much in common with bluegrass bands, but thanks to its members' diverse backgrounds, Joy Kills Sorrow is anything but traditional.
That's not to say, however, that its members don't recognize their roots.
Joy Kills Sorrow's approach shares much in common with artists such as Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, and like them, Beaton said, she appreciates being able to blend the innovative and the traditional.
"I like hearing people trying new things and merging genres while keeping the roots of music in mind," she said. "That's exactly what we're doing, or trying to do.
"We're always trying to create new and interesting music, but we [also] think about where we came from, musically."