Words // Brian Hodge
A temperate past few days combined with Daylight Savings has hinted suggestively at the changing of seasons. The Clearing, the new album from North Carolina-based Bowerbirds, is a softly-lit album that blooms just in time for spring, an album inviting you to explore their rustic world.
The Bowerbirds’ reap their familiar pastoral territory, generally speaking, but the duo’s vision feels fully realized here. The scope - and production value - has increased on what is the group’s third record. Recorded in Wisconsin at the increasingly influential April Base studio (of Bon Iver, Bon Iver acclaim), there are lush, sweeping melodies pieced together beautifully with orchestral flourishes and latticework instrumentation.
The Clearing opens up with perhaps the record’s strongest track, “Tuck The Darkness In,” a song about bittersweet reminiscence. Phil Moore’s minor-keyed melody feels reliable and comforting in its familiarity. But by the time the orchestra swells behind his lamentations, it’s shimmeringly clear the duo have come a long way since 2009’s Upper Air.
Over the past three years, Moore and bandmate Beth Tacular ended their long romantic relationship, battled a mysterious illness that hospitalized Tacular, rescued a dog and subsequently rekindled their relationship.
While one can infer any number of influences these events may have had on the recording, the lasting impression here is one of acceptance. Accepting things in, accepting that some things go, and ultimately accepting that while life isn’t perfect, nature has a steady course and a way of keeping everything balanced.
On the album closer “Now We Hurry On,” there’s a passage where Moore sings “And what we miss, we miss, we miss. / And what we see under the sun is what we get.” Everything in between, both in life and on the album, is more than good enough.
Bowerbirds play the Paradise Rock Club on March 24. Tickets here