Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brown Bird - The Devil Dancing

The Eastern European flare on The Devil Dancing is what separates Brown Bird from many other folk acts. David Lamb(guitar,banjo,percussion) started the group as a three piece with now married couple Jerusha(cello,vocals) and Jeremy (accordion, banjo,toy piano, vocals) Robinson. In those early years the group had a darker sound that surfaces at times on The Devil Dancing. Other members added later are Mike Samos (dobro, lap steel, mountain dulcimer) and Morganeve Swain (viola, cello, ukulele, vocals) now make the group a five piece that at times sounds like a seven piece. The songwriting on this album has clever wordplay about men in search of redemption.

The easy and cool nature of Lamb's vocals punctuate the first song, "Danger and Dread". 'You say there's no use tryin' to protect you from the danger and dread, though this world is made of fearsome beasts that bark and bite, we were born to put these creatures through one hell of a fight may we feast upon the flesh of any fever that befalls you tonight." The accordion accents are played in an eastern European fashion here.

"Down To The River" is a non- conventional spiritual number outfitted with choral harmonies. In most songs about going to the river there is redemption at the river. Lamb's version states, ' I went down to the river with my suffering sins, Lord I tried but the water wouldn't let me come in. Too many lives have been broken, there's too much blood on my hands, there ain't no water in this world that can turn me into an innocent man.'

The title track sparkles. It's nice mix of stringed instruments that add to the songwriting. 'You chased every demon from my guilty heart you were draggin' your claws on the walls of my veins tearin' me apart. Now I come home as a stronger, ah, stronger honest heart.'

'The man I could have been' is a running theme on The Devil Dancing. David lamb spins tales of men that can see, but not quite reach their redemption. The five piece that is Brown Bird plays as a cohesive unit that are in no rush. The songs are allowed to breath and the music frames the strong songwriting nicely. The harmonies vary and add a depth to the songs on The Devil Dancing.

Check out their myspace, they are on tour with South China (the side project of fellow band- mates Jerusha and Jeremy Robinson). I hope they come to Chicago, so I can see both of these great bands and maybe work in an interview.

Thanks to Ron at Peapod recordings.


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