CD Review – Birds of Chicago (Self-Titled)
Two of Alt-Country’s finest voices collaborate on a heavenly debut album
In early 2012 Jeremy Lindsay aka JT Nero and Allison Russell from Po’ Girl did a mini tour of the UK coupled with a handful of US Festivals together; promoting the latest JT and the Clouds album Mountains/Forests. As well as playing songs from that album they seamlessly slid in a few new songs ‘that they were working on’ and these have subsequently been fleshed out to become the duos debut album under the guise; Birds of Chicago.
I’ve been a fan of both singers for a few years now but could never have imagined how good they would be singing together; complimenting each other like gin and tonic.
To those out there who haven’t heard JT before, he has a voice often described as ‘broken Country-Soul’ but his songs are like Poetry set to some of the finest Roots melodies that you’ll ever hear in this lifetime.
On the peculiar love song Cannonball Lindsay makes passion sound effortless; but when you see him perform songs like this live you see him screw up his eyes and nervously tap out the beat with his bare feet on the stage as he desperately tries to convey the complicated message of love. None of the songs are ever literal or straightforward and it’s probably best that we don’t know what is going on inside his head when he’s writing them; but the result is never less than interesting and quite often spectacularly wonderful.
JT takes the lead on most songs but Allison’s harmonies and backing vocals have to be heard to be believed; and when she does get the opportunity to sing lead – on Galaxy Ballroom and Before She Goes she manages to sound like a Folk singing Diana Ross; with the results being as dreamy as a balmy night under the stars on the deck of a yacht bobbing about in the Mediterranean.
One of the fledgling songs that I remembered from the gig in Newcastle was Sugar Dumplin’ which appears in all it’s glory here. Now with an accordion, guitar and shaker backing we hear JT conveying his love in a way only he understands – ‘We are sunbeams/Jesus loves a sunbeam/Buddha loves a sunbeam/Allah loves a sunbeam baby’ but the hook is just that; a hook to drag you into his crazy world and it’s a world that is a lot more fun than the one we normally inhabit.
BIRDS OF CHICAGO is a silly name for a duo as good as these two; but the album is an extraordinary start to 2013 and will certainly be in my Final Top 10 at the end of the year.
UK release January 28th 2013