Murmurations Vol. 2, the new album from Birds of Play is quite possibly my new addiction. Capturing the heart and beauty of nature with the gregariousness of humanity, Birds of Play take flight where movies like Nomadland and even The Power of the Dog visuals end. Celebrating the freedom and the natural harmonies, Murmurations Vol. 2 quickly settles the listener into a spot right next to the guitar, across from the sometimes rugged, old timey lyrics and even more intimate with the lush violin strings. Featuring eight songs that crackle like the remaining embers from a campfire, one doesn’t have to be an outdoors enthusiast or glamper to appreciate the sonic blends that await.
Sewn into the mandolin, bass, acoustic guitar and violin rhythms are the friendships forged in Colorado. Like the Rocky Mountain state itself, the vibrancy and diverse sounds in these songs ebbs and flows from one to the next. In the opener “Tarab”, the tones are slightly smoky, but audaciously amber and bold. Do you feel it too, that wave of calm washing over you, and what was once a trickle, is now a tarab and its sweeping you away, a warm, male voice sings. Before he even got to the line about a trickle, the music bedrock reminded me of the way water meanders in a shallow stream; the liquid moves through the smooth rocks, pooling together. I was struck at the way this song immediately immersed me into a vibe, a calming sense of joy.
“One Foot Out The Door” has a bit more swagger. The plucking guitar (or perhaps mandolin) is more sprightly, ornery. The violin has a slight haunt to its arrangement. It’s almost nefarious. The vocalist is a mix between Phillip Phillips and The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz. By track three, “I’ll Be Good”, a different male voice is on lead. This song struck me as very cowboy-esque. Very outdoors.
“Sandhill Cranes”, another fine example of Birds of Play’s bright, Americana sonic pallet, flows into “Blues And Reds”. These were excellent songs, as are “As She Sees It” and “Clumsy Dreamer”. Overall, though, I found that the bookends, the first and last songs were my standouts. “Turn It To Gold” could easily be on a soundtrack to a Coen Brothers movie. All these songs lend themselves to strong visuals, but the charm in “Tune It To Gold” has moments of Randy Newman-esque whit. I loved the way this song could also be a small-town dancehall gem. The rolling mandolin escalades like a dreamy, starry sky. If these songs didn’t have that magic, that core Birds of Play sound, I think they would just sound swell. But, awe, the spark, is the way they twirl these instrumentations together. You can tell they like each other and the synergy is dynamite. Birds of a feather flock together.
Birds of Play you have yourself a brand new fan. I’m bespeckled by Murmurations Vol. 2. It’s whimsical and has those toe-tapping moments opportune for any time. No matter your musical tastes, Birds of Play have proved that great music doesn’t need to check just one box. It lives outside boundaries.