The new album of the Portland, Maine group Brown Bird – is a serious candidate for the prestige ‘best album of the year’ position. Trouble is, it was released in November 2009, but I made myself a ground rule, where and album can be taken into the next year’s pole of best albums, if it was released in Nov-Dec. Yes. I’m very strict with my ground rules.
Anyway, The Devil Dancing is the fourth release of David Lamb under the moniker Brown Bird, but overall the first one with his full band, including Morganeve Swain (voice, violin, viola, cello, ukulele), Jerusha Robinson (voice, cello), Jeremy Robinson (vocals, banjo, accordion) and Mike Samos (Dobro, lap steel, mountain dulcimer). It is important to notice the other musicians in the band except for the lead vocalist/main writer David, as the band texture of sound is playing a crucial part in their music.
The Gothic/dark Americana/folk is a territory many has stepped before. Some did amazing job (everything by 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand), some took it more cabaret style (Faun Fables) and some went for the rootsy, almost Carter Family like, folk and blues. One band the immediately comes to my mind is the wonderful Fire On Fire ,by ex-Cerberus Shoal and Big Blood, who also feature the brilliant Micah Blue Smaldone. Fire On Fire sounds almost exactly like Brown Bird, but their songwriting goes different ways. Brown Bird mostly relays on Lamb’s voice and somewhat more ‘easy’ songs, rather the Fire who sounds like an old gospel choir and much tense songs.
In anyway, both band are really recommended, and regarding Brown Bird, that record really took me by surprise at first, but after reading it was released by Maine based label Peapod records – it all made sense. Something happens in Maine, something good though sometimes strange. It involves folk and blues and Gothic and all that, but it holds also great soul, terrific musicianship, and a great songwriting. I’d like to be there, when I can.
Down To The River
Buy : Peapod records