CRYSTAL BAy, Nev. — Brown Bird is better listened to in a room made of wood.
Of course, it is easy to download the code and listen to the band on small computer speakers, but what is the point? You miss the warm layers of guitar, banjo, violin, double bass, cello, and bass drum (wooden rim) which hangs thick over their latest full-length effort, “Salt for Salt.”
Recorded live to tape in Pawtucket, RI, “Salt For Salt” is the first album by Brown Bird to capture the intense energy of the duo’s live show, surging in waves that often swell into high-spirited, foot-stomping madness. Press materials say David Lamb’s lyrics are as well-written as they are emotionally intelligent, thankfully avoiding the pitfalls of the wish-wash known as “modern-folk” or “singer-songwriting.” Lamb and his partner MorganEve Swain write simply, and the record is eerily sparse at times — a tambourine, a bass drum and the cello often the sole accompaniment to Lamb’s (what a name) cracked, wood-smoke voice.
“We always tend to describe our influences when people ask us (about our style) because we don’t know how to classify ourselves either,” Swain told Lake Tahoe Action before a 2011 show, opening for Devil Makes Three. “But a lot of it draws from the blues, from Americana and a lot of Eastern European music and, of course, a lot of rock.”
Lamb, a son of a preacher, began singing in church and is influenced by gospel music. Drums were his first instrument, and he picked up guitar when he was in high school.
Swain is a classically trained violinist, an instrument she’s played 24 years. She later learned Celtic fiddling and bluegrass.