Bowerbirds - The Clearing
The recognition that this life is the only one you get can be a cause for sadness and relief. Sadness because it means accepting loss and limits, and relief because it helps you appreciate what is here and what remains, rather than hoping on future fantasies.
North Carolina's Bowerbirds-the duo of on-again couple of Beth Tacular and Phil Moore-have in the last year experienced enough sadness and renewed appreciation for the moment (severe illness, loss of a beloved pet, brief separation) that makes the stuff of classic music. On "The Clearing," their third release, they often come close to delivering just that. These are intimate songs that speak of the bigger picture, and how the bigger picture is found right in front of us in the small details.
Take the stunning opener, "Tuck the Darkness In," An ambling dirge that slowly develops into a soaring elegiac melody, a haunting but uplifting pop gem. The ease with which the song moves between the stark and lush is breathtaking. Bowerbirds also excel at songs that are intimate, kind of introverted but large hearted and raw, and we have generous examples in "In The Yard," "This Year" and the incredible "Overcome With Light."
The music here is playful too, with the jaunty and baroque ("Walk the Furrows") resting beside ghostly ambient pop ("Brave World") and "Stitch the Hem," a gorgeous swirling piano-based ballad with orchestral swells. Bowerbirds peak on the next to last track. "Death Wish" is jaundiced and Beatle-esque, with depths of meaning far beyond is deceptive title.
"The Clearing" is a memorial and manifesto; Bowerbirds have overcome tragedy and loss and lived to tell us that the experiences only make them hungry for more life. We ought to celebrate this brave band and the couple thriving within it.
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