A string band striding purposefully that boundary between folk and country.
Colorado’s Birds of Play are an acoustic foursome of, predominantly, guitar, mandolin, upright bass and violin. Having started as a three piece they expanded with the addition of the fantastic violin of Anneke Dean which goes substantially beyond the folky fiddling heard in similar bands. All band members are accomplished performers taking Alex Paul’s diverse songwriting in interesting directions, adding depth and superb inter-play.
The sound is open and unadorned which allows each instrument and vocals to live within the arrangements. The songs range from those that seem entirely at one with the open skies and deserts of Colorado, like opener ‘Tarab’ or the slightly angular ‘Clumsy Dreamer’ to the country roots of the superb ‘I’ll Be Good’ and ‘One Foot Out The Door’. Along the way they take detours into mountain music on ‘Sandhill Cranes’ and the fierce independence of ‘Blues and Reds’. As well as the dexterity of the playing there the harmonies stand out on tracks like ‘Turn It To Gold’.
The band are happy to experiment and take arresting directions such as the semi-operatic mythological musings of ‘As She Sees It’ and the soul-blues of ‘One Foot Out The Door’. Rather than feeling like a scatter-gun lack of musical direction everything is pulled into a coherent whole by the arrangements that emphasise the openness and interplay that walks a careful line between impressiveness and coldness; in fact the vocals, by different band members, have soul and passion.