You may not think of San Francisco as a place that would incubate one of the greatest alt-country bands of the last twenty years, but it did play surprising home to The Court and Spark. The band featured future Hiss Golden Messenger members Scott Hirsch and M. C. Taylor before they decamped to North Carolina. They were set somewhat apart from their contemporaries by the gentleness of their music. While many others were busy doubling down on tragic influences like Townes Van Zandt, The Court and Spark radiated warmth. Early album Bless You saw the band experiment with a sweet sadness, but by the time they’d released Witch Season in 2004 they’d nailed down an amiable and accessible sound. Songs like Sundowner, You don’t exactly push the form, but there’s a great comfort in them. The tones of the guitar are beautiful, the lyrics painterly and Taylor’s voice provides a clean twang. When he repeats the line “I may need you to carry me,” it doesn’t sound desperate, but strangely hopeful. He’s bestowing the power to lift him up, anointing an angel. It perfectly captures the spirit of the band, an ever present ray of light.