Blackbird Harmony

Hardwood Exits (Yer Bird)

Blackbird Harmony is the project of Evan Birdsong, a local country-noir singer-songwriter joined on Hardwood Exits by members of Eleven Hundred Springs and Bosque Brown's Mara Lee Miller. From the start, the title track firmly establishes the album's template, with mournful pedal steel giving way to Birdsong's detached, weary vocals—equal parts Jay Farrar and Lou Reed—as he delivers the first of several dark-as-the-night choruses: "Let the record spin around/Till the silence pulls us down." The loping, electrified "Samaritans" ("Tilted back and swallowed down/smoking nothing to be found/Some drunken sun to drown us out/tired eyes open wide") could easily be an outtake from Neil Young's Tonight's The Night—or a Songs:Ohia album for that matter—with Miller's lovely backing vocals sharing the distinct air of Hope Sandoval.

In fact, it's often Miller who steals the show here, as her turns on "Caution & Dispatch" and "Turpentine" only make us more excited for her own band's upcoming full-length. It's also a treat to hear the consummate musicians of Eleven Hundred Springs explore their dark side, with Matt Hillyer lending beautifully underplayed, tremolo heavy guitar to "Searchlights" and Danny Crelin's lovely, crying pedal steel coloring Birdsong's starkest weepers an even darker shade of blue.

 
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