Review Summary: An album soaked in love; A fitting farewell.
“The time will surely come, when all is blown undone, I will still be with you my love.”
It would be impossible to talk about Brown Bird, and this album in particular, without talking about the sudden and tragic loss of half of Brown Bird. David Lamb, the creator of Brown Bird, vocals and guitar, was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2013. After various procedures, it was sent into remission. In late March, 2014 it came roaring back, and within two weeks Lamb passed away.
Why is this important to the review at hand" Well, because this album listens like a celebration of life, and serves as the perfect eulogy. I'm not sure about the nature of the relationship between Lamb and the stand-up bassist, violinist and fellow vocalist MorganEve Swain, but she's described herself and David as lovers. It shows.
This album is full of fundamentally subtle synergy. It was made by two people who were so comfortable with each other it's almost as if the songs aren't so much music, as an audio expression of life, struggle and deeply committed love. Love not just for each other, but for life, for passion and for exploration. And this album certainly explores. Through the course of this album, the duo flawlessly blends gypsy, folk and Americana music while working in their thoughts on the darker side of life.
The result is not so much a collection of songs, or even a skillfully conceived and executed album, but more an audio tapestry. The rhythms snake in and out of the guitar chords, the banjo plucks in perfect compliment to the vocals, the violin moans and it all feels so damn organic.
Take for instance the minimal production on 'Ebb & Flow', or the upbeat twangs of 'Fingers to the Bone', the gypsy drenched grooves of 'Cast No Shadow'. Listen to the gritty 'Bilgewater', or the soothing crooning on 'End of Days'. This is an album of sheer humanity. For all the bands that try and succeed in conveying emotions, there's few that made it seem as effortless as Brown Bird.
And yet, listening to it now, one can't help but hear it all with a slight, at the least, consciousness of the fact that half this group, the voice now cooing, now exclaiming, is gone. It doesn't suffer for this, if anything it adds to it. Maybe it's a reflection on how fleeting life is, or that death can and will find all of us. Certainly 35 is too young to go. But listening this album I can't help but imagine that Lamb and Swain handled it with the same poetic calm that they concentrated, focused, boiled down to it's root and wove into this album for the world to hear.
You don't need this album, but it calls for you to listen. To join in, to sing, to celebrate. To dance and reflect. Brown Bird is over, but I have no doubt that this record will serve as an immortal testament to two peoples talent, dedication and love of each other, life and their music.