The Odd Birds
Charming Country Rock That Could Be From Townes Van Zandt’s Front Porch.
During some pre-Christmas correspondence on Social Media, our friend Bobbo Byrnes asked (subtly) if I’d ever received the latest album by The Odd Birds that he’d produced. I checked all of my files and couldn’t find it; so he hastily re-sent it and it became my soundtrack on the daily trip to work ….. but sadly coincided with my annual two week rest from reviewing; so I’m starting 2022 with a release from 2021!
Since I reviewed theIr previous EP, Californian double act Ron Grigsby and the effervescent Jennifer Moraca appear to have matured their Folk Rock/Americana ‘sound’ ever so slightly and gone for a more Classic Country Rock stance; and wowza does it work!
Initially I was intrigued by the title of opening track Alright Now; as I hoped it would be a cover version of the Free song of the same name; but sadly/thankfully it’s not …. as Ron takes the lead on a charming and slightly dark and jangly soft rocker that simply oozes Californ I-A on a sultry twilight.
The mood drops slightly for track #2 Another One Like You, when Jennifer takes the lead with her pearlescent and quivering voice on a tale of unrequited and lost love that will make you sit silently hoping and praying for a happy ending.
Mrs Magpie and myself often discuss (aregue) about why some acts ‘make it’ while others are destined to languish in the shadows playing half full bars and clubs across the world on a Tuesday and Wednesday night.
The Odd Birds certainly have the talent to move on from the latter course; as they show in Long Long Ride, Lie To Me and the sparkling Drowning Rain, which are all very well constructed songs and produced in such a way that each instrument can be heard in all their glory; but never in a way that overshadows the singers voices.
It’s a brave man who takes on a Classic song like Wichita Lineman; but The Odd Birds pay homage to Glen Campbell in the finest of fashions; and to some extent Grigsby’s voice isn’t a million miles away from Glen’s but the addition of Jennifer Moraca is a stroke of genius, especially when the pair take the chorus into the stratosphere and back again.
As with most Country Music of whatever shade most, if not all of these songs are about relationships, and these particular stories are all easily accessible to the likes of me and you.
Which brings me to the tough choice of selecting a single Favourite Song.
I can easily imagine someone like Judy Collins or Joan Baez melting hearts with a rendition of the tale of a woman sitting at home ‘waiting on her man’ on the starkly beautiful Lie To Me; but I’d also prefer it if it became a hit via The Odd Birds themselves.
When reviewing Country duos of this ilk I always try to avoid lazy comparisons with Gram and Emmylou; then The Odd Birds drop in A Song For You; and that’s the only direction I can point you in as the Californian duo pay homage to Country’s golden couple and come out the other side honours even.
Better At War sounds like the duo had been listening to a lot of Tom Petty and Eric Burdon in the days before entering the studio; as the song certainly has the cutting edge that both had in their prime; and the crazy electric guitar interplay gives this powerful song a rocky edge that I’d like to hear more of in the future.
Then there’s the nod to the Texas Troubadours when the couple sound like they’re singing on Townes Van Zandt’s front porch on the tear inducing and heart breaking Drowning Rain; but there’s one other that has captivated my since that first afternoon in the car; and that’s Jennifer’s Today I Started Loving You Again where she turns and twists the words and melody into something approaching a Southern Gothic heartbreaker without the death knell.
The way Jennifer puts her broken heart and soul into the song I wasn’t even sure it was the same song; but it is and it’s fair to say that sung by a woman, and particularly Jennifer Moraca, it now takes on a whole new meaning and direction.
Especially the way Jennifer sings a couple of songs means the couple haven’t totally strayed away from their Folk roots; but the welcome addition of occasional electric guitar and buoyant melodies means to me that the finished article is genuinely genre-bending as the couple and their enigmatic producer Bobbo Byrnes, add smidgens of Country, Americana and especially Country Rock to the recipe and the end result is very easy on the ear.
Released September 2021
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