Alissa Anderson

The folk heroine plays Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday.

Sometimes Meg Baird’s voice is so pretty it can be kind of spooky. She hits these high, soothing notes, often accompanied by a single, lightly plucked guitar, that send a static charge up my arms and spine. When I tell her this, I can practically see her blushing even though we’re communicating via email. “Can I print this out and frame it? Maybe tuck it in my guitar case?” she replies. “It’s rough out there. I always want to feel like there is a worthwhile effect to listening to my work.” Baird, once a fixture in the Philly folk scene with The Espers and as a solo artist, lives in San Francisco these days. I asked her about that and her latest record, Don’t Weigh Down the Light (Drag City), in advance of her big homecoming show this week.

City Paper: I love the song “Don’t Weigh Down the Light.” Tell me something about it that nobody knows.

Meg Baird: There are a ton of ideas and influences behind that song’s DNA, but it largely came together when I was thinking about arranging covers for Gene Clark’s unreleased demo “For No One” and Tom Petty’s “Wake Up Time” from Wildflowers.

CP: “Mosquito Hawks” might be my favorite thing you’ve ever done. Not a question, just saying.

MB: My first middle eight! I wanted that to sound sort of like Jimmy Page and Kristin Hersh in the chord voicings.

CP: What song on the new album gave you the most trouble?

MB: A song that didn’t even make it on the record! I was trying for a mood that made you feel like you were swirling past a cascading pageantry of light and villages and scenes — you know, like Pasolini’s Decameron — but it wound up sounding more like an old jalopy Model T trying to make it up a hill. I’m glad I stuck with it, but it really didn’t work out in the end.

CP: Why’d you leave Philadelphia?

MB: Good reasons — for love! My partner, Charlie, is from the Bay Area.

CP: You miss us, right? You must. Philly is so great.

MB: Philly is wonderful. I miss things about being there all the time.

CP: Tell me about San Francisco.

MB: It’s incredibly beautiful. Magic even. It’s also currently a disaster of income and housing inequality and displacement. I’m so new here but, even so, it can feel kind of under siege. I think lots of American cities are going through the same thing right now, but it is so acute here right now. Be careful, everyone.

CP: What are you reading right now?

MB: Elissa Washuta’s My Body Is a Book of Rules and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and Rebecca Solnit’s The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness.

CP: What else should I know?

MB: Reading three books at once can trick you into feeling like they’re never gonna end. And Philadelphia’s beautiful and magic, too.

$10 // Thu., Aug. 27, 9 p.m., with Samara Lubelski and Mary Lattimore, Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684, johnnybrendas.com.