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BIRDS OF CHICAGO —REAL MIDNIGHT (Yep Roc)

http://www.birdsofchicago.com

Birds Of Chicago’s eagerly awaited follow-up to their debut record Trampoline is everything anticipated and more, Allison Russell’s amazing vocals combined with the superbly crafted tones of JT (Nero) as in JT & The Clouds see the unit once again rise to great heights. Produced by Joe Henry (Emmylou Harris, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rodney Crowell, Solomon Burke, Bettye Lavette and others), and recorded at his Garfield House Studio in LA the quality of tone, vocal harmonies and arrangements are of a kind where once the listener taps into the muse of BOC they will be hooked. To inevitably place their music on at the top of their cd stack. Mostly, the album is of a mellow, a little melancholy but awash in so much beauty and grace, and bursts of adventure. Like shooting stars there are occasions their voices become collide and sparks fly, so beautifully are they entwined, magic beyond words and much excitement exude freely throughout.

 

All 11-tracks are written by Nero and Russell, and in traditional sounding and rousing stripped bare “Barley” you have a song that could just as easily come from 100 years ago such its spare near a cappella authenticity. Utterly gorgeous. Fans of Russell in the purest form will especially love this (and the rest of the album....) as she pleads for the wind that shakes the barley to likewise shake her.  

 

Their honesty coupled with the Nero’s guile as vocalist, lead and accompanist ensure every note and lyric count for the listener be drawn like a moth to the flame to the action. Accompaniment ranges included guitar, piano, banjo, steel guitar, bass, drums and percussion to go with voice that sees them peak on such songs as “Remember Wild Horses as some of the greatest joy of the album unfurls; on joining Russell’s lead vocals a minute or so into the song JT sparks one of those magic, ever to be treasured moments. Not to be missed songs are non-stop and especially strong during the opening half of the record as you have “Kinderspel (child’s Game)”, and with undulating joy leaping from ever corner “Estrella Goodbye” hits a spot way above most artists can imagine. Their voices are inseparable and general performance of the duo is quite breathtaking as caution is thrown to the wind. I also love the effective use of piano and banjo in the background to go with their fervent full-on vocal effort. It’s like as if the best voices of soul, gospel and pop are beautifully orchestrated by them to the musical arrangements of producer Henry!

 

You also have teasing love ballad “Real Midnight”, forever sliding different hues across the mind of the listener as steel guitar, keyboards, piano and guitars are featured. Russell hits one of her many highs on her beautiful singing of “Color Of Love”. JT isn’t to be overshadowed either, because apart from his seamless combinations with Russell, where it is like she rides on top of his voice; as for his work he stars on “Time And Times” and with claw-hammer banjo guiding Russell on the stark opening of  “Sparrow” is graceful, calming and beautifully poignant. “Pelicans” rounds off the record on a high as to some finger picking as JT opens the song as he speaks of being a pelican in the eye of a hurricane.   With sweet harmonies draped all over it the listener can’t help but be taken by the wonderful harmonious feel of their music.   

                            

Maurice Hope 

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This site is the sister site to The House Concert Hub community and has been inherited in the main by kind donation of Shaun Belcher and Trailer Star.

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December 2018
1
Malford Milligan
75 pts.
Life Will Humble You
Royal Family Records
JF,FB
2
JD McPherson
61 pts.
Socks
New West Records
CVL,DHO,MVP,MB
3
Rosanne Cash
50 pts.
She Remembers Everything
Blue Note Records
WR,BP,JSM,HB
4
Ad Vanderveen
45 pts.
I Was Hank William
Blue Rose Records
TK,LM,BM,JB
5
John Hiatt
44 pts.
The Eclipse Sessions
New West
FC
6
The Yearlings
41 pts.
Skywriting
Lonely Sounds Records
EZ
7
Tip Jar
40 pts.
Onward
Independent
FS
8
Nathan Bell
39 pts.
Loves Bones & Stars
Angry Stick Recording Co.
RB,SZ,PG
9
The Brother Brothers
38 pts.
Some People I Know
Compass Records
BK
10
Richard Dobson
30 pts.
I Hear Singing
Brambus Records
JS,NC
11
Steve Forbert
29 pts.
The Magic Tree
Blue Rose Music
PR
12
J.P. Harris
28 pts.
Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
Free Dirt Records
TJ
13
The Bottle Rockets
24 pts.
Bit Logic
Bloodshot Records
GS,PKO
14
Rodney Crowell
23 pts.
Christmas Everywhere
New West
 
15
Christian Kjellvander
22 pts.
Wild Hxmans
Tapete
 
16
Erin Costelo
21 pts.
Sweet Marie
Compass Records
PJ
17
Colter Wall
20 pts.
Songs of the Plains
Young Mary's Record
 
18
The Hillbenders
19 pts.
The Hillbenders
Compass Records
FH
19
Eric Bibb
18 pts.
Global Griot
Stony Plain
 
 
Karine Polwart
18 pts.
Laws of Motion
Hudson Records
HH,KG
21
Carson McHone
17 pts.
Carousel
Nine Mile Records
 
 
Malcolm Holcombe
17 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
MF
23
Ben Bedford
16 pts.
The Hermit's Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings
SP
 
Craig Moreau
16 pts.
A Different Kind Of Train
Independent
MP
 
David Olney
16 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music

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