Record Review: Bowerbirds

The Clearing
Raleigh, NC

(Dead Oceans)

“Tender love, emotional insight, and Southern charm”

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The Bowerbirds are growing up and expanding their repertoire. Their pension for tender affection and sprawling sounds remains but is now paired with a new maturity that’s impressive and engaging. Their musicianship is more intricate and there is a new purpose and stronger sense of self.

The Clearing is in many ways similar to what we have seen from this duo before. Phil Moore and Beth Tacular still croon ballads of nature, love, and the fixing of what has been broken. However, this new endeavor boasts larger and more grandiose compositions. “Tuck the Darkness In” and “This Year” grow with strong guitars and orchestral flare by way of deep strings and speeding percussion, and “Brave New World” is an uplifting song about the places we come from.

While the swelling and eventual bursting of this new style is intoxicating, they have not forgotten their roots. Gently ambling hymnals sit sandwiched between these bellowing tunes, waiting to be discovered. “Overcome with Light,” for example, moves softly with only Moore’s quiet vocals and a few light strings. It is sweet, simple, and familiar.

The Clearing is a breathtaking piece of work that demonstrates talented musicianship, lyricism, and growth. The incorporation of more instrumentation, including strings and accordion, gives way to a more developed sound and perhaps a stronger vehicle for what they are trying to share.

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