It's been four years since we've heard from Fort Worth native Andrew Kenny, former American Analog Set frontman. But Magnolia, the debut LP from his new band the Wooden Birds, has proven to be worth the wait. Tambourines rustle like leaves, or like Kenny's hushed, raspy voice, which takes on an ethereal quality when he harmonizes with Duncanville native Leslie Sisson. Coupled with the syncopated guitar-top percussion that permeates the album, Magnolia evokes a warm, earthy mood as appealing and pervasive as the scent of the flower it's named for. Even at low volume, Kenny's melodies hang thick in the air, and his words seem weighted with metaphysical truth even when he's not singing about something serious.
While critics will decry Kenny's decision to recycle "Hometown Fantasy," a song from a split EP he once released with Ben Gibbard, it seems fair that Kenny—who was burned by bad record-label decisions while American Analog Set was active—wants to give the song (and himself) another chance with Barsuk.