Glasgow welcomed the Pennsylvania roots trio The Stray Birds last night with the band riding high on the news that they’ve been signed onto the roster at Yep Roc records who will release their second full length album, Best Medicine, in October. Their appearance at Celtic Connections earlier this year was one of CC’s highlights and tonight they basically repeated their set from back then but as the old adage goes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They’ve obviously racked up some serious fans with song requests galore throughout the set and had it not been for the auditorium set up I’m sure there would have been some serious jigging going on. If nothing else their simple set up, Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven on various instruments (banjo, fiddle and guitar) with Charles Muench the anchor on double bass works beautifully with all three well attuned to each other and well capable of kicking up a veritable shitstorm when required. Lead vocals revolved throughout the night with each taking the spotlight in turn as the others offered their harmonies leaning into a single voice mic. A veritable holy trinity of string band excellence.
While their stirring instrumentals such as Give That Wildman a Knife/Bellow’s Falls/Waiting on a Hannah fired up the crowd and Muench’s sly delivery of Make Me A Pallet On The Floor and Blue Yodel No. 7 where expertly staged the band showed that they have the song writing chops to distinguish them from the many other string band revivalists around these days. Dream In Blue and Harlem showcased de Vitry, sultry and down-home while Craven’s tribute to The Stanley Brothers and the loam of his land, My Brother’s Hill was somewhat breathtaking while he cod confessed to murky misdemeanours on No Part Of Nothing, a fine slice of old time bravado. Best Medicine, the title song from the forthcoming album bodes well for the band as de Vita commanded attention on a paean to old-fashioned record stores that could be seen as a musical equivalent to the loss of Sam The Lion in The Last Picture Show. Despite the sense of loss in the song it seems that the new album will be available on vinyl so there’s some hope therefore that at the very least The stray Birds might have a Technicolor moment.
The new album is availabe to preorder here