Friday, August 4, 2017

McQ's #58 Album Of 2015 - BIRDS SAY - Darlingside

Stepping away from high profile, internationally recognized releases for a moment, Birds Say, our number 58 album of 2015, comes from a young Massachussetts indie-folk/bluegrass quartet still in the early stages of breaking their way into the listening public and music industry's consciousness.

In fact, I still probably wouldn't know who they are today if it weren't for fellow New Englander Patty Griffin, who asked Darlingside to join her on her 2015 Servent Of Love tour (more on that album in a few weeks). My wife and I were lucky enough to catch both acts in their November 2015 performance on the outdoor stage at Pioneertown's legendary Pappy & Harriets, and as soon as I saw Darlingside, I knew I would want to include a piece of their music in our 2015 collection.

So I bought their merch. And boy, am I glad I did.

The music in Birds Say is far from earth-shattering - basically straighforward contemporary indie-folk that falls very much in the broad male-harmony-driven camp that includes the likes of Fleet Foxes, Trampled By Turtles, Local Natives, and Mumford & Sons -  but at the end of the day, the band just harmonizes beautifully.  We're talking jaw-droppingly well, both live and on record, and that one talent basically overpowers whatever flaws of inexperience (of which, at times, their are many) exists in their music.

What emerges, then, is a light, positive, very well-produced collection of acoustic songs. Songs that are more pleasant than impactful, but that do portend of better things to come for the band as it continues to push forward, sharpen their vision, and grow.

For me, the crowd-pleasing White Horses and sad, Celtic-tinged, immigrant tale The God Of Loss are the definite standouts, though if you can ignore the clunky lyrics, Do You Ever Live is a definite musical/melodic highlight. My Gal, My Guy, the most Fleet Fox-y of the songs here, probably has the album's best melody line, but is diminished slightly by a weak extended ending.

If you're cherry picking, skip the sticky safe title track and Volcano Sky, a failed attempt at an epic pentultimate closer, but otherwise, the rest of the tracks on the record, are, like the band as a whole, quite agreeable and well worth hearing.

Status: Mild Recommend

Cherry Picker's Best Bets: White Horses, My Gal, My Guy, The God Of Loss, Do You Ever Live.

Track Listing:
1. The Ancestor - 7
2. White Horses - 8
3. Harrison Ford - 7
4. Clay & Cast Iron - 7
5. Go Back - 7
6. My Gal, My Guy - 8
7. Birds Say - 6
8. The God Of Loss - 8
9. Water Rose - 7
10. Do You Ever Live - 7
11. She's All Around - 7
12. Volcano Sky - 5
13. Good For You - 7
Intagibles - Average

Here's the official videos for my favorite two tracks on the album, White Horses and The God Of Loss.

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