Birds of Chicago have been riding a swell of good mojo in the Americana world since their inception in late 2012. With their new album, Love in Wartime, they are set to both confirm that roots world buzz, and break on through to a wider audience across the world. Having taken audiences by storm at the Cambridge Folk Festival this year having been invited to perform by the curator Rhiannon Giddens, they are destined to be the next great Americana band to visit this country
Critics have scrambled to find the right terminology to describe the deep lyricism, gut-punch singing and fevered musicality….“Secular gospel” was one phrase that caught some traction. That fervour is evident in their latest album, Love and Wartime as well: “Roll Away the heavy stone/roll away the heavy hours/roll on in the summer moon/who’s alive who’s alive who’s alive? “ The invitation is joyous, but urgent … call it “secular gospel,” or call it what they used to call poetry intoned over roots music mash-ups: rock n roll. The Birds consider themselves a rock and roll band first and foremost.
Built around the chemistry and fire between Allison Russell and JT Nero, the band has included a core band of empathetic assassins since it took to the road full time in 2013. Russell and Nero played with different bands in the mid-noughties (Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds) before finding their way to each other.
The Birds attract a mix of indy rockers, NPRists, jam-kids and folkies to their gigs, which alternate between moments of hushed attention and wild, rock and soul abandon. Says JT Nero, chief songwriter for the band, “A good show can send you back out into the night feeling — for at least a little while – that everything isn’t broken.. Right now, we wanna dose out as much of that feeling as we can. ”
“Birds of Chicago seduce us with their joyous, intimate, spare, rousing, soaring vocals and their hauntingly evocative lyrics.” No Depression.