HEATING UP Lamb and Swain.
Brown Bird couldn't have chosen a better launching point to Go For It than their latest album, Salt for Salt, as the incredibly talented twosome of David Lamb and partner MorganEve Swain leave the shipyard and coffeehouse behind and set out to make music a full-time career.
One of the year's best shows went down last spring when Brown Bird headlined the release show for The Sound of Ghosts EP at the Met. Acclaimed San Francisco band the Devil Makes Three had invited Lamb and Swain as support on a West Coast tour, and TDMT returned the favor with an opening slot at BB's homecoming. The brutally muggy room was already lathered up when Swain and Lamb took the stage and the crowd was at full attention and in full party mode by the end of the night. Lamb's black boots tapped away on a kickdrum, tambourine, and the familiar woodblock "clip-clop," while Swain displayed skills on the cello and double bass that evoked warmth and eerie solace. Lamb saluted his co-workers at the Warren shipyard on "Rat Tail File," and Swain's brother Spencer (of Zox fame, now BB's full-time manager) induced a hoedown-meets-mosh pit of sorts. I'm sure I wasn't the only one sensing something special at the Met.
They streamlined the touring lineup last year following lengthy treks for 2009's excellent full-length, The Devil Dancing. Lamb and Swain got more valuable exposure on a swing through Europe supporting the Low Anthem, and a national headlining club tour of their own last summer, which culminated in a buzzworthy set at the Newport Folk Festival. BB caught the attention of NPR, which streamed the band's entire set, and received praise from Magnet, Under the Radar, and Paste, which debuted BB's "Thunder and Lightning" on their site, as well as a must-see version of "Bilgewater" shot at the Warren shipyard, Lamb's now-former employer.
Salt for Salt opens with "Fingers to the Bone," another blue-collar BB gem, followed by the chain gang blues of "Chairkickers." The instrumental "Shiloh" builds up as if a nomadic Eastern European symphony was performing on galloping horseback. The duo's lonesome harmonies shine on "Ebb and Flow," while "Thunder and Lightning" finds Lamb's bluegrass swing laced with some serious soul swagger. But "Bilgewater" is hard to top. Lamb coolly works his way around the line, "When every day is like a war to between the will to go on, and a wish that the earth would spiral into the sun," while Swain's hypnotic chorus counters with, "In spite of all, the wherewithal/to fight it all, I will face it all."
Pick up Salt for Salt (and the BB catalog) at brownbird.bandcamp.com and iTunes, and get to the Met early because this one should be sold out prior to showtime.
I caught up with Swain last weekend while the duo were on their way to Poughkeepsie, NY.
HOW'S THE TOUR GOING? LOOKING FORWARD TO BE HEADING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS I IMAGINE? This tour has been great! But we're definitely looking forward to being in New England for the holidays, spending some time with our cat and seeing friends and family before we hit the road again.