Emerging from difﬁcult times
By - Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, Mar. 16, 2012
A lot has happened to North Carolina indie-folk band Bowerbirds since the release of its last album in 2009. The duo, Philip Moore and Beth Tacular, ended their romantic relationship, eventually reconciled, and then Tacular had to overcome a long illness. But the duo seems to have found solid ground again on its third and latest album, "The Clearing."
That stability comes across in the album's tone, which has a fullness and warmth that sounds much more glossy than the group's other releases, probably because it was recorded at Bon Iver's Wisconsin studio, April Base. The polish of this recording makes the arrangements that much more poignant. The beginning of "Hush" features a quivering drone that swells behind Tacular's delicate voice, and the lush, momentum-inducing instrumentation on "Stitch the Hem" sounds like a less chaotic Arcade Fire.
Beneath the polished recording, though, Bowerbirds' songs still hinge on nature-infused lyrics, always with a sense of restraint. Despite its optimistic lyrics, "Overcome With Light" is cautiously joyous, and "This Year" touches on a long winter with a somber tone that stunningly evokes the band's rural environment. Therein lies the core of Bowerbirds' success: the ability to channel the simplicity of their rustic surroundings into charmingly orchestrated folk songs.