The Stray Birds – Magic Fire (2016) [Web FLAC]

Label/Cat#:Yep Roc Records
Year:19 August 2016

The Stray Birds experienced several firsts while recording their new album, Magic Fire, set to be released August 19 on Yep Roc. It was their first project with an outside producer, their first recording with venerable guest musicians, and first truly collaborative songwriting effort. It s also an album of mosts: the most exciting and engaging music they ve ever composed paired with their most outspoken and insightful lyrics yet. Another first for the album: NPR premiered the first single from the album, Shining In The Distance.

When it came time to record Magic Fire, The Stray Birds knew they were ready to take an ambitious step. They retreated to Milan Hill, New York, a small town outside of Woodstock in the Hudson River Valley, and teamed up with three-time GRAMMY Award-winning producer Larry Campbell (best known for his work with luminaries like Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, and Willie Nelson) and his preferred engineer, Justin Guip (another three-time GRAMMY Award-winner who worked with the late Helm), and the group spent ten days together exploring and creating the music that would become Magic Fire.

Magic Fire demonstrates the group s remarkable growth as songwriters and performers, with countless nights on the road across the US and Europe sharpening their senses and honing their keen understanding of each other s strengths. Third Day In A Row is a laid-back slice of infectious Americana that showcases the band s rich harmonies; while Hands Of Man is a dark, Appalachian-influenced tune completed during the recording sessions in Milan Hill. Where You Come From marks Charles Muench s first complete songwriting contribution to an album, while Shining In The Distance is a collaboration with fellow songwriter Lindsay Lou that grew out of Maya and Oliver s move to Nashville, and When I Die features a verse written by new collaborator Shane Leonard (live versions of the song include a variety of additional verses contributed by peers and tour-mates like Mandolin Orange, Miss Tess, Jordie Lane, and Cahalen Morrison & Eli West).

The album marks a new, more open approach to writing, but the songs are as focused and incisive as ever. All The News is a reminder of just how lucky so many of us are to live in relative comfort and safety, while the groovy Sunday Morning is a call to action, as Craven sings, You can shout for change and worry about the state of the world / But it s gonna take a little more than praying on a Sunday morning.

Magic Fire builds on the success of The Stray Birds 2014 Yep Roc debut, Best Medicine, which was hailed by NPR s World Caf for its strong harmonies and sharp songwriting and debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. Guitar World praised their heartfelt creativity, while the Philadelphia City Paper called the band stunning, and Mountain Stage applauded their singular ability to successfully draw on the rich traditions of American folk music while still sounding modern. It was that unique formula that first brought them national attention and fueled their breakout in 2012, when their self-titled/self-released debut landed amongst NPR s Top Ten Folk/Americana Albums of the Year and earned them major festival performances everywhere from MerleFest to Scotland s Celtic Connections.

01. Shining in the Distance (4:25)
02. Third Day in a Row (4:36)
03. Sabrina (3:44)
04. Radio (3:18)
05. Where You Come From (3:31)
06. Fossil (3:56)
07. Hands of Man (2:50)
08. Somehow (3:38)
09. Sunday Morning (2:30)
10. Mississippi Pearl (4:29)
11. All The News (3:34)
12. When I Die (4:40