Music & Nightlife

David Wax Museum’s musical world gets wider

David Wax and Suz Slezak are the core members of David Wax Museum, which plays Evening Muse on Saturday.
David Wax and Suz Slezak are the core members of David Wax Museum, which plays Evening Muse on Saturday. Griffin Hart Davis

If you Google David Wax Museum, you’ll likely find references to Mexican “son” music, but that’s only part of the story. On its new album, “Guesthouse,” you’ll find a richer stylistic palette and lyrical and musical feats on par with acclaimed songwriters Josh Ritter and Andrew Bird.

For Wax and his bandmate/wife Suz Slezak, who play Evening Muse with their band Saturday, “Guesthouse” is the next step – be it a large one.

“Internally, it felt like a gradual evolution and the sense of getting more comfortable in the studio,” Wax says. “I think when we started I had some conception of the band that was a reflection of the time in my life. I’d just gotten back from Mexico and was playing rural-style folk music and listening to field recordings. It was my musical diet.”

Wax, who was originally turned on to Latin music by the Buena Vista Social Club, had an epiphany while studying in Mexico.

“I suddenly had a vision of what I could do that was uniquely my own voice – bringing the Mexican and American folk together – bringing these different fashions together that other people weren’t doing,” he says.

With his vision in sight, the Missouri-raised Wax moved back to Boston and started a band. That was eight years, a marriage to Slezak, and a 2-year-old daughter ago.

There’s a freedom that permeates “Guesthouse.”

With the input of producer and guest guitarist Josh Kaufman, Wax and company were encouraged to throw out any preconceived ideas about who the group is.

“In terms of the Mexican influence, I felt less beholden to that. Taking a song on its own merits not because it fits in this identity we’ve constructed. At the core it’s these people and the harmony of my voice and Suz’s and we’re going to stretch out and have the Mexican influence be one of the many colors.”

The evolution from rootsy folk to broader indie folk-rock band is something fans have noted of Wax’s peers the Avett Brothers (an early DWM supporter who once shared a manager) and Mumford & Sons. Both expanded into more of a rock band on later albums.

“That folk revival was legitimate. There was this rejection of what had come before (in the recent past) and reconnecting with our roots,” he says. “Everybody’s playing banjos, and you forget all those people ... that grew up on punk music and they’re engaged in a larger musical world.”

As with its peers’ later work, those other roots are exposed on “Guesthouse,” which captures the spirit of a band and a couple starting a family and growing and morphing into something new.

“There’s this whole other sonic palette that you can open yourself up to once you get out of this box that we’ve constructed for ourselves. We have to keep doing something that’s exciting and engaging and challenging,” he continues. “The records before this one we were experimenting with more. This was more effortless.”

David Wax Museum

When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St.

Tickets: $10-$12.

Details: 704-376-3737; www.eveningmuse.com.

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