Of course, no profile of up-and-coming East Bay area acts would be complete without mention of the Warren group that that’s been piling up loads of national acclaim – Brown Bird.
The duo, singer/multi-instrumentalist David Lamb and singer/bassist/cellist MorganEve Swain, took some time in weaving its way toward its current and most inspired incarnation. They endured periods of transition, moving through instruments and styles and line-ups before arriving at a brand of rugged yet refined Appalachian-inspired folk music, that is as somber and erudite in its arrangements as it is contemplative and contemporary in its lyricism.
“The sound that we’ve arrived at is definitely an amalgamation of our influences throughout the years,” says Lamb. “When I started writing under the name Brown Bird, I was heavily influenced by contemporary indie-folk artists like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Smog, Cat Power, Neutral Milk Hotel and Iron and Wine, along with a lot of compilations of earlier American roots and folk music such as Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music and the Revenant label’s American Primitive volumes.”
The music still evolves. “We’ve been channeling a wider array of our influences into our songs,” notes Lamb, “and we continue to do so with the songs we’re writing now.”
Those influences show. October’s Salt for Salt, Brown Bird’s fifth full length album, demonstrates the development of the duo’s signature style – a rich, earth-hewn sound that conjures a maelstrom of the spirit, capturing vividly the depths of human behavior in its proclivity for sparse, painstakingly conjured images of pastoral trial, error, defeat and – most importantly – warmth.
It was only last year that Lamb and Swain finally decided to quit their day jobs and jump in, head first, to the grind of full-time touring. And though it may be difficult, it’s certainly paid off.
“The number of comments on my beard may outweigh the number of comments on our music more than I’d like,” says Lamb, who sports a rather impressive long moss, “but other than that, the audiences have been great... If we’re ever having a rough day on tour it’s easy to remember that a bad day on tour is a million times better than a bad day at our old day jobs.”
Brown Bird is on tour now through early June and will be making their second appearance at the Newport Folk Festival this July. The Festival runs the weekend of July 28 and 29 (with a Wilco kickoff on July 27) Brown Bird is scheduled to play on the sold-out Saturday.