SHOOTING BLIND Tiger Saw hit the mark.
For just over a decade, Dylan Metrano has been bringing together any number of musicians to form ever-evolving versions of his band Tiger Saw.
Embracing his slo-core (or "sadcore") roots once again, Tiger Saw have released Nightingales (Burst & Bloom, which has also re-released 2007's Tigers on Fire), and never has the material better fit the delivery. An exploration of all things night, the album manages to be far from dark, reveling in the world of dreams and endings with a bright and airy string-quartet arrangement and vocals that, while ethereal and slow-moving, manage not to be down-in-the-mouth.
That last is thanks to siblings Emily and Glenn Forsythe (Boston's St. Claire), who provide on seven of the 10 tracks here paired vocals that intertwine and meld like silvery smoke.
Clara Kebabian and Lillian Harris on violin and MorganEve Swain on viola do work that is lovely and subtle, and mixed just slightly to the back so they don't overpower the vocals. If anything, Evan Orfanos's drums are the most prominent instrument here, his snare like a heart-beat for songs that need a foundation, lest they float away, with Jerusha Robinson on cello to supply the gravity.
The night fixation is not tiresome. It is omnipresent, but, as on the opening "The Night Is Unchanged," it's more like a constant, a friend you can count on, than it is a looming presence. When the Forsythes join to sing, "Streetlights dimmed long ago/We lived for the static, we lived for the night/My friend, I miss you so," it isn't drenched in melancholy or nostalgia. It's just a simple memory.
The Forsythes explore this idea through back and forth in the powerful "Murakami Dream," referencing the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who has written about "entering the world of dreams and never coming out."
"Nostalgia isn't what it seems," Glenn opens. "Life is a Murakami dream/Though I've lost the plot/I still love it a lot, now I sing with everything I've got." There is no point in looking back with regret. "The dark's a killer," Emily agrees, "but we dream at night." What's that about clouds and silver linings?
There is also here a cool Unbunny cover in "Pink Lemonade," where we are tirelessly remonstrated, "don't leave me here with the shakes," and Wesley Allen Hartley even drops a Traveling Trees reference into his lone vocal turn at the front of "We'll Always Have the Night."
But make sure you stick around for the closing "Purrr," where the band are finally allowed to release some of the energy that's been bottled with all this slowness. Emily's voice takes on an edge, the guitar begins to growl, and while "still I fear what tomorrow brings," there is a rippling intensity here that is willing to face all challenges.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIGHTINGALES | Released by Tiger Saw | on Burst & Bloom | with Wesley Allen Hartley and the Traveling Trees + Winter Sons + St. Claire | at 10 Mayo Street, in Portland |www.tigersaw.com