Two days after yesterday is tomorrow and simple observation proves that nothing never really changes. If nothing ever really changes, then the past seems as good a place to seek inspiration as anywhere else in God’s great firmament and Birds of Chicago follow that path to festival righteousness with their self-titled album.
In some ways, I was drawn to think of Tom Waits – especially in JT Nero’s fractured voice and evident lyrical sentimentality - as I listened to this album but here the past is seen as an antique picture found in some downtown thrift shop rather than the source of all the woes of a broken down humanity. That’s not really a criticism as polishing off the rough edges is a pretty common thing to do these day as your bread won’t get buttered without the tofu fuelled generosity of the roots aficionados that bring life to all those summer nights in soggy fields.
So what we have here is not therefore a collection of stories but very eloquently assembled set of picture postcards designed to find favour with as many people as there are vegetarian options. “Trampoline” shines as the up-tempo introduction to this album and “Moonglow Tapeworm” provides evidence that Birds of Chicago could do quirky if they really wanted to. The album’s moment of beauty, however, is “Before She Goes”. Only one of two songs penned by Allison Russell, this song just wants to make you hold the one you love. Simply, simply beautiful.
I will never understand why the major record companies so steadfastly refuse to exploit the roots genre. Bands like Birds of Chicago appeal to the kind of people who still buy music. The past really is the future,