North Carolina trio Bowerbirds began life as an austere roots-music trio that rarely implemented more than three instruments—acoustic guitar, accordion, a marching-band style bass drum—to get their melodic point across. Now six years into their evolution, Bowerbirds spread their wings wide and soar to new orchestral heights on The Clearing, their third album. Recorded primarily at Bon Iver's April Base studio in Eau Claire, the album finds Bowerbirds' once simple, homespun folk balladry dressed to the nines, fleshed out with the likes of trombone, violin, cello, vibraphone, clarinet, and organ. The newly super-sized sound works in part because group frontman Phil Moore sings with increased zeal, his always pleasant but previously restrained tenor belting out with newfound flair. Longtime fans needn't worry about a similar sea change lyrically, as Moore is still obsessed with chronicling environmental decay and contemplating mortality. The end result is a set of surprisingly airy and joyful-sounding songs on highly weighty and downbeat subject matter. With Dry the River. (Photo by D.L. Anderson)
Sat., March 31, 7 p.m., 2012
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