There’s a haunting expansiveness on Upper Air, the latest from Bowerbirds that suggests this forceful three piece has their sights set very, very high. On their own, each of the ten tracks presents a rather rugged aesthetic. It’s bare-bones Americana, leaning heavily on acoustically-charged melodies and the potent pitch of vocalist Phil Moore. Connect the dots, however and hear Upper Air as one enchanting piece of work and you’ve got something very special; hints of accordion and strings push the sonic boundaries of Americana and you begin to understand the high praise that Bowerbirds have gotten.
The heartache Moore laments of bleeds into a rusty resonance that is impossible to turn away from. Upper Air is a compelling, thorough listen; much like the artists that Bowerbirds get lumped in with, from Bon Iver to Devendra Banhart, Bowerbirds seem to evolve with ease listen after listen. Simple, strum-ready tracks like “Teeth” soon give way to a Maritime lament. And as “Teeth” bleeds into the haunting and tragic vocal heavy “Silver Clouds,” one’s imagination begins to run away with itself. Yes, Bowerbirds do indeed inspire. “Silver Clouds” begins to chug with a nervous urgency and we learn the true weight of Upper Air. Bowerbirds, though simple and haunting as each of their tracks might present themselves; are wild ones. Catch them while you can.
By Joshua Kloke[Rating: 4.5/5]