The once five-piece band turned duo Brown Bird hasn’t exactly stumbled upon anything new, but it certainly feels fresh. The Rhode Island-based band, which is now made up of only Morganeve Swain and David Lamb, still re-creates the full sound often only achieved by a band of their former size. While Swain alternates between fiddle and newly learned cello and upright bass, Lamb keeps the beat with a tambourine and wood block connected to foot peddles and a wood-rimmed bass drum, all while playing guitar and sometimes banjo. Their sound is filled out with their voices, particularly Swain’s often haunting harmonies.
Don’t let the banjo fool you — this is neither Bluegrass nor your mama’s Folk. Brown Bird’s new album, Salt for Salt, is roughly 6,000 miles past Appalachia, leaning towards a much more worldly sound. The four-minute long instrumental “Shiloh” best showcases the duo’s more eastern European melodies. Recorded live in Pawtucket, R.I., the new album has that familiar hollow sound that makes all live recordings sound so good, but it seems to complement Brown Bird even more.
From Lamb’s jaunty banjo at the beginning of the album to Swain’s last pull across the violin, Salt for Salt is 11 tracks of satisfying new music.
BROWN BIRD plays the 20th Century Theatre Thursday, Nov. 3 with guests THE DEVIL MAKES THREE. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get club details here.