The Bowerbirds, "Upper Air"

Critics' Picks: Folk me all night

Bowerbirds make restless lullabies about the joy of holding hands among the squirrels and the poison ivy


Heather Havrilesky
July 21, 2009 2:19PM (UTC)


Bowerbirds, "Upper Air"

 This trio's second album is deliciously sweet, filled with jangling acoustic tunes ripe and juicy as green summer grapes. Phil Moore has just the right sort of tenor voice, somewhere between Stephen Malkmus and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

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On "Upper Air," Moore’s melodies are earnest and pleasing, like something a far less bitter Richard Thompson might've written when he was still young and hopeful, fleshed out by accordionist Beth Tacular's mellow harmonies. The lyrics are heavy with romantic flourishes and delusions of grandeur. "Oh resilient life!" the two sing together in "Teeth." "You are strong and sure without me. You are boldly dismantling."

Apparently these two angel-faced singers are in love, and have been living in the swampy woods outside of Raleigh, N.C., writing restless lullabies about the joy of holding hands among the squirrels and the poison ivy. Their raw talent, paired with the idyllic optimism of their songs, almost makes you sadistically want to check back in after they smash each other's hearts to tiny bits in the silence of those humid woods. Let's just keep our fingers crossed -- but in the meantime, go buy this album, which is resilient, strong and sure, and boldly dismantling.


Heather Havrilesky

Heather Havrilesky is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, The Awl and Bookforum, and is the author of the memoir "Disaster Preparedness." You can also follow her on Twitter at @hhavrilesky.

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